Dear Maddie, Emily and James
I am writing this letter in 2013, when you are 7 years old, 4 and a baby respectively. You are too young to appreciate what I have to say at the moment, so I am writing the letter to your older selves, when you yourselves have children of your own.
I am sorry. I am so sorry.
I don’t know what has happened between 2013 and now, when you are reading this, but I have a pretty good idea.
We have already irreparably damaged the climate. It will not return to its natural state on human timescales. I dare not think about it, but fear that by the time you read this that what is known now as “catastrophic” climate change is locked in, unavoidable. People, animals and plants around the planet will be desperately trying to adapt to the violent and volatile weather, the loss of the regular weather patterns such as the monsoons, upon which our comfort and the survival of vast populations rely. I hope beyond hope that war has not been the result, that the people of the planet have pulled together to help each other and the natural world to cope. I am doing what I can to try to change this course, but I am not sure I will be able to.
I hope you are alright.
I am doing what I can for our family not to be part of the problem, but it is almost impossible to avoid, not without a general changing of attitudes and policies in the UK at least. We’ve got solar panels, I’m avoiding commuting, the car sits on the drive almost all the time, we’re getting our food locally as much as we can – you are only vaguely aware of this at the moment.
Whether I am right in my prediction of the future or I am wrong, I am sorry for all the jibes you will inevitably receive from your peers about your crazy father and for any disappointment you have felt due to the lack of flights abroad or new gadgets. I’m sorry for all the times over the years that we have fallen out as a result. Know that I have always acted for your future, out of the deepest love for all three of you.
As I write, the issue of the changing climate is on the backburner in the press and public opinion. Many of my friends and some of your family carry on with their carbon-intensive lives as if there were no tomorrow. They apologise to me for the worst of their excesses, knowing I am trying to make a difference. To avoid conflict with those with whom I care, I have resisted the temptation to tell them to not worry about apologising to me, but to go and find their own children and apologise to them.
At the same time there is a ground-swell of activity starting across the planet as we start to take on the vested interests and bloody mindedness that currently has the upper hand. I am part of that, and hope that we are successful to the point that my worst fears are not realised.
I love you very much, both as my little children and as the adults you have become (you’re “gwowm-ups” now).
Daddy (or Grandpa by now, I suppose),