Dear Mother Nature,
It’s time to come clean and admit that I have failed. I’m sorry, Mother Nature, you deserve better.
We talked about climate change in high school. We saw pictures of smokestacks and smog, of miles-long traffic jams and mountains of trash in landfills. I’m aware. I’m supposed to be a part of an aware generation; we Millenials who are changing everything for the better and undoing the damage of past generations and all that.
I mean, I grew up watching Fern Gully. I was scared shitless of the Tim Curry-voiced gas monster that was destroying the pure and beautiful forest and the pure and beautiful fairies who lived there.
But I haven’t really done anything about it.
You’re sick, and I’ve failed at making you better.
I vote for the people and policies I think (hope, pray) will make things better, so I don’t really have to do anything myself. I “like” articles from Mother Jones and my progressive friends on Facebook. I tell people how important the environment is. I’m conscious that climate change exists. I know that the Paris Agreement might actually enact some real change. Or at least I hope so. Reading about it makes me feel better at least.
And then I continue on my way.
I check email. I go to work. I have lunch. I look at my Instagram to see how many people liked a picture I took of the green leaves turning red and orange for autumn because they’re there and pretty, and even if I know that someday they won’t be I don’t really know what to do except appreciate them today.
I don’t actually do anything to make this world a better place. I point my finger at the climate change deniers, the alt-right, the corporations trashing rivers and forests in the name of profit. But when it comes down to it, I’m not really doing much better.
(I often still buy the products from those corporations, especially if they’re on sale.)
I Google-searched what I could do to help combat climate change:
- Reduce energy use. Adopt energy-saving habits.
- Change the way you think about transportation. Walk or bike whenever possible.
- Insulate your home. Insulate yourself and your home.
- Make every drop count.
- Cool wash and hang to dry.
- High efficiency appliances.
- Switch to “green power”
(This comes from climatechange.gc.ca, which gives much more information on how to accomplish these goals.)
So I recycle. I take public transit. I’m conscious about how much time I spend in the shower, and to turn off the lights when I leave a room. I cool wash and I hang to dry. I buy local when I can. I use a sweater instead of turning up the heat.
Some days I throw away packaging. I buy the cheaper, imported products and then throw away the packaging from them because they’re marked #6 and you can’t recycle a #6 in Minnesota. Some days, especially in Minnesota, it’s too cold outside to be conscious of how long I’ve stood in the shower, and too cold to wait for the bus. So I stand shrouded in steam for 30 minutes and then drive my car, alone, to work. And when I’m short on time and need an outfit, that dryer looks pretty damn sexy.
I’m sorry. I’ve failed.
I try and make a difference, but I still find it hard to address a problem that doesn’t affect me today. If I have to choose between doing the right thing for you, Mother Nature, and wearing the shirt I want to wear or getting somewhere quicker and more comfortably, I choose me. I quickly forget that you’re very sick.
I really only think about you when it’s convenient.
I want to be better, but I’m weak. Especially when it’s cold outside. And in Minnesota, it gets pretty fucking cold. I want to be the change I wish to see in the world, but the comforts of modern society are just so appealing.
I’ve failed so far. But I’ll keep trying.
I know it’s too late to go back to the beautiful blue planet, rich and overflowing with life, that earth once was. I know that we’ve passed the carbon tipping point for good. But maybe there is still hope. The dire outlook for our future hopefully will spur some real change. I know it has for me. Maybe we can save what is still here.
Maybe you can still get better.
I’ll try to be tougher come winter. I’ll make time. I’ll do a better job planning so I don’t have to cut corners. I’ll try. Because you’re really all we have. And I don’t want to lose you.
Your daughter, who is finally learning to appreciate you