A few years after Kelsey's birth, perhaps in 1990 or 1991, I became fully aware of global warming as a threat to modern civilization. I recall avidly reading Bill McKibben's book The End of Nature in the upstairs study/guest bedroom we had renovated ourselves -- new wood floor and moldings, walls plastered and painted, a mahogany rolltop desk bought at auction and polished to a gleaming brown. As I read, a cloud of doom wafted from the book's prophetic pages: climate change causing sea-level rise, wildfires, drought, crazy weather. It was awe-inspiring, too, the realization that mankind -- people just living their lives -- was capable of altering the planet's climate on such a grand scale. Of the more imminent disaster, the end of my marriage, the abandonment of the beautifully restored room, I had no clue.
What can our children reasonably demand of us? UV light treatments if they come out jaundiced, yes. Ongoing love and support, surely, but that's not enough anymore. They should also expect that we at least try to leave them a world that is not irrevocably damaged by a universal practice, the burning of fossil fuels, that we've known for all of my daughter's life is epically harmful. They should expect us to care not just about our own children, but about all of our children all over the world.
On this special day, am I a pessimist or an optimist? Hmmm, good question.
Happy Birthday, Kelsey!