About that global warming - Sorry kids

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Sorry kids.

Please forgive our mess.

We taught you to clean up your messes and not cry over spilled milk.  And now it looks like we made a mess that affects us all.

Global warming is starting to get very uncomfortable - and will get much worse.  It was years ago that your mom and I apologized on behalf of our generation.   “Eat your salmon,” we would say, “because when you kids grow up, it’ll probably be extinct.  Sorry about that.  Ha, ha, ha.”   It was a blend of joke and off-hand apology.


But now that I see the projections and learn more about looming climate changes, I feel deeply ashamed.   Most all climate models and scientific studies plot out their grim scenarios up to the year 2100The closer we get to that century-mark, the more radical the change we will experience.  Much of that is in your lifetime.  Sorry about that.   And increasing warming and destabilization will continue into the next century - well into the lifetimes of your children.  Sorry about that, too.

Honest, we want to march together into a better world.  Parents want to pass along happiness and an improved life for their children.  But the minimum requirement was that we protect you and keep you safe.   When it comes to atmosphere and oceans, it looks like we made it worse for everybody.  Until recently, we really didn’t know the extent of the damage caused by our greenhouse gas emissions.   Some people purposefully ignored the problem and even directly promoted denying it.  Too many just didn’t want to stop the carbon party.  Many still don’t want to stop.   No matter how hard the world tries to stop and fix it, a persistent degradation of atmosphere and ocean will continue for decades.  It may take hundreds of years - even thousands, to get things back to a reasonably healthy condition.  


Unlike any other time we have experienced, this world will increasingly become a difficult and painful place in which to live.  We are sorry, we beg your forgiveness.  We didn’t want global warming.  We could have done better.  It was over a hundred years ago - in 1908 that publications told us that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that causes warming.  Scientists continually studied the issue, and Science Advisory Councils to Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Carter reported that human-caused CO2 emissions cause atmospheric heating  Ever since, we have tolerated lies about the cause of the problem.  It was us.  We failed to act then, and we are failing to react now.


Our failure burdens us with a sense of shame and regret that I no longer want to carry.   I want to  accept responsibility, look at the issue clearly and move forward together while we can.    The world was ours to protect, we broke the sacred promise that every parent carries.  The least we can do now is to stop making things worse.   We can learn to mitigate the damage, teach how to adapt to change, and discover our new future.

Please accept our apologies.  Please forgive us.  

Richard Pauli
April 2010


CopyCommons. Please feel free to re-post this essay non-commercially -while retaining links and author’s name.

   The writer, Richard Pauli, is age 60, a step-parent to three adult children (now in their mid 20’s).   He is a former high-tech worker in the Seattle area - and is currently unemployed.  His primary blogs are  http://theBoyWhoDeniedWolf.com - which discusses denial and  http://credoandscreed.com/ devoted to personal messages and rants.

++++++++++++++Addenda: related links - added 4-2010+++++++++

What did you do, once you knew? a video poem from Drew Dellinger:

Planetize the Movement from Drew Dellinger on Vimeo.

Time to man-up an essay on action

And what did you do daddy? essay by Steve Easterbrook:

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