Friday, March 18, 2016

Letter to My Child about Climate Change

My dearest son,

At the time of writing you this letter, you just turned 3 year old few days back. I wrote many other mails to you to tell you how much I love you and how much your dad and your grandparents love you. What fun things we did together since when you were born. I am sure you must have read all those memories of you in our minds.
But my darling I am writing this special letter to let you know what world you are living in now, in 2016, and what it used to be long before you were born, hoping you are living in a better world. Now in 2016, just few days back here in UAE (where we are staying now), a storm came with heavy rains and washed out almost whole country. There was unimaginable water logging in our community, I got a call from your nursery to pick you up early and then we had to spend some time to avoid water on roads and reach home. It never happened before in this country at this scale. The fact is since few years everywhere around the world, the climate is changing visibly!

I hope, at the time you read this letter (when you are a young adult in 15 years time), things are back to what they used to be during my child hood. I hope, in these 15 years, governments and businesses around the world have given priority to environment instead of just short term financial goals. I hope, in these 15 years, people around the globe have realized, accepted and taken efforts to address the causes of climate change.

In case you are wondering how the world was during my child hood, let me tell you how it was when your dad and I were kids. I spent my childhood in a small city by the river and surrounded by one of the mountain ranges of India. We have many cozy winter memories from my childhood, when temperatures used to reach almost freezing, foggy mornings, soft woolen wears, bonfires, doctor's brandy as medicine for cold, to name a few. Three years back, when you were born, I was very excited to be back there in the winter after many years, and was hoping to revisit all those cozy chilled memories of childhood. But sadly, not only was it much warmer but it was hardly any colder than Dubai's winter. So I always get surprised when people question if climate change is real.

We used to have regular seasons, back in India, spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter. Seasonally predictable things used to happen during those seasons, but life was fun! Since few years, all the seasons are disturbed, there are lots of cyclones, storms and unpredictable rains everywhere. Because of this crops are getting spoiled, farming is getting affected, farmers are committing suicides in India, food prices are increasing all over the world. Significantly years are hotter or colder or wetter. larger numbers of people are going hungry, inequality in the society is increasing.

We didn't have electronics devices at our times for playing, so watching Peppa pig or Pocoyo, cartoons was not an option which you love to watch when I am writing this letter, Hope in your times our society is not wasting too much money, energy and time on electronic devices. Or even better, all your devices are made cradle to cradle and all their parts are inter-changeable. In short what we call now the new concept of circular economy, is the only way to produce things by then.

But if you wonder, if we didn't have electronic devices what we did? we used to play outdoors and yes there wasn't much traffic outside, so it used to be safer. We used to breathe much fresher air everyday, for which we now take you to remote rural parts of India or even as far as the alps in Switzerland or deep rain forest in Bali. Looking at it positively, you get to experience this great fresh air when we go close to nature.

Hope you have not opted for smoking and you have an electric car. I even hope in your time, buying cars is looked at negatively and that there is excellent public transport, and riding bike is a norm. In our childhood we used to ride a bicycle, owning a scooter before junior collage was a luxury. We used to have fresh source of water and enough water for everyone. I remember seeing river beds clearly and no waste mixed to it.

During my childhood, people were much closer, neighbors were extended families, people talked to strangers on buses and trains, instead of looking into screens. Relationships were valued much more than materialistic things. People were dependent on each other rather than technology. Currently google is our helper, if we need some help. During my childhood days, senior neighbor aunt was the Google for my mom.

Those times, we used to have fresh naturally grown food in my city, which is now termed as organic. People used be healthier and there used be fewer diseases. Now every year some new viruses are found around the globe, as a result of climate change. I even have less memories of natural disasters shown on TV news channels but unfortunately more news of wars and tensions between the countries and communities. Now unfortunately world is busy with both, so those governments are least bothered by climate change. At this time of course, people are talking about climate refugees and war refugees. Though it's great to have whole world as family, I hope few cultures are not forgotten by the time, you are reading it. I hope very strongly countries are co-operating each other more in your times.

We used to have wide variety of wild life almost a century back, you can find it in the encyclopedia. I grew up learning about extinct and endangered species. Many people are so selfish since some time now, that for their selfish monitory purpose they are poaching and creating great danger for some important animal species like elephants, rhinos, tigers. You know right now how much you love elephants and tigers! So we took you to show you these animals in their habitat and you have even fed elephants in a safari. Hope you can continue doing this after 15 years. Hope not all forests around the world are developed and cut down or even you have more forests reserves on planet after 15 years. And hope by that time people really love animals and their natural existence instead of things made out of their teeth or skin!

Those small joys of running behind butterflies, listening to singing birds, signs of season change from looking at trees around, fresh smells of nature, great tastes of fresh farm goodies, caring for lost baby animal, planting trees and gardening, collecting natural goodies like dry leaves or flowers or bird shed feathers or shells from beach and trading between friends. Dark skies full of twinkling stars at night. These are the memories of my childhood. These I try to give to you now, by searching places where tourism is not yet commercialized or Eco tourism is developed. I hope you can still enjoy them after 15 years. I believe these joys make us good human, we are supposed to live close to nature, it's not something we need to learn. Rather we need to unlearn attaching ourselves too much with artificial things and even attach our emotions and happiness with them. During my childhood, people were more connected and happiness was not counted in money as much as it is now.

My precious child, but if things are not as good as I hope, I AM SORRY! I want to apologize not only to you but all your friends and whole of your generations and the generations after yours. It is because of us, your parents and your grandparents and our ancestors from the last century, who didn't realize what we are doing with our environment. Our ancestors got too excited about industrialization and the more sophisticated life that came with it. The people got too used to the comforts they got out of this industrial culture being ignorant of environmental impacts. We continued harming our beautiful nature for years after years without thinking what we are passing on to you. Yes, we were foolish enough to think if we earn lots of wealth our next generations will be happier. Sadly we thought this wealth is money we are making out directly or indirectly harming the very planet, on which our existence is dependent. And even when some of us realized where things are going wrong, we didn't push our governments, businesses and even ourselves enough to take actions. Didn't change the way to make things, to demand things, to consume things, to throw things. We didn't make the change in our lifestyle and didn't push everyone around us to do that. Just because, we hesitated, or even thought what can one man can do to change the situation.

Remember, if you are suffering because of unpredictable weather, natural disasters, food scarcity or in the worst case, water scarcity, please don't blame our beautiful nature, just blame me! My darling I couldn't give you the better world!

Try to remember better things from your childhood. We also are doing the same, when it comes to climate and natural beauty. But in your case, I know you are suffering much more than us.

But please have the same sustainable lifestyle which I taught you, or even make it better. I know it's hard, when you are young, want to explore things, go little (hope only little) wild. But think what the effect is going to be on your kids or on your friends kids. I know at your age nobody thinks about kids. But please don't repeat the same mistake we did. Have faith!

I still hope, things would be better! We are going to celebrate Earth Hour today with millions of people around the world who care for environment. Many more people are going to be Eco aware if we keep on spreading word. I really hope you are living in better world, where air is fresh, water is clean and the land is adorned with natural beauty. I still hope, people in my generation can do something concrete now and let all you beautiful children enjoy planet earth, the way we enjoyed in our childhood.

Your's Loving,
Green Mama


Walck This Way said...

What a well written letter to your little man. I too worry about the world I'm leaving for my three year old!

Prashantk said...

Nice article Amruta..

Keep going..

Climate will change in a such a way that it will neutralize all bad effects human species done to this earth..
Its earths reaction to humans action.

Amruta Kshemkalyani- Tavkar said...

Prashant, Thank You! Glad you liked it!
I wish climate is just correcting, but we have already destroyed balance of this Eco system up to visible level and need to take actions now or things will go out of control within few years. Our society needs to be more aware about causes and effects of climate change, that was the whole point behind writing this letter!

My Yellow Bells said...

This is great Amruta, made me think of taking my kids to the place where I grew up in Philippines when we go for vacation soon, where I chase butterflies and dragonflies, where I climb trees and bath in the stream. We still have time to show them these things in the hope to instill and make them experience what a beautiful world they love in and that they must take care of it.

Thanks for sharing this letter to us all.

Amruta Kshemkalyani- Tavkar said...

Thank you Carla! I am so glad to see another mommy's positive reaction to my article!
Yes, once our children experience that joy of being close to nature, they will automatically inspired to conserve it.

Would love to visit your beautiful country someday!