We are honored to share with you the thoughts, fears and hopes of Julianna Fischer in the form of a letter she has written to her unborn child. Julianna is a student at Western University in Bellingham, Washington. Eloquently and passionately, through her letter to her unborn child, Julianna shares her love for the special place where she has grown up, and her desire and passion to make sure that this special place will be there for her unborn child to cherish and enjoy too. This post first appeared on Julianne’s blog, The Climate is Calling and I Must Go, on June 8, 2015. We are thrilled to repost her letter on ClimateMama, in it’s entirety.
A letter to my Unborn Child
What if I were to tell you, we could have stopped this? You never had to live in a world like you do my love. So many lives lost, ecosystems destroyed, and hardships faced… all for what? My baby, my unborn child, I tried. I tried to make sure you lived in a world that is as beautiful as when I was your age. But you will probably never see half of the beauty I see in the world today.
When I was a little girl, I lived right off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean; I could smell the salt in the air while I waited for the school bus each morning. My brother, my sister, and I would ride our bikes down to the beach with your grandmother all the time. We would pick out the prettiest shells to take home and line our walkway with. We would overturn the rocks in the shallow water on a hunt for little crabs burrowing in the shade. The gulls would caw overhead always ready to eat the crust from my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I wish the shells would still be as beautiful for you to see, as I know them to be. Over the past century the oceans have absorbed a lot of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas is partly responsible for the changing climate you are faced with. With more carbon dioxide, the pH level of the ocean water drops, resulting in acidic ocean waters. The water becomes corrosive to the shells of the clams, scallops, and they will wither away to nothing. I’ll try to save you some of my shells so you can see what they used to be.
Your uncle and I, when we were very young, would play behind the restaurant your grandparents owned. We would tie a rock and a shrimp to a long rope, and let it rest on the seafloor. We would be entertained for hours waiting for a crab to pinch on to the snack and then haul up our prize giggling with excitement. As I grew up, I began to work at this very same restaurant. I lived off of the lobster, crab, and fried clams. People would come far and wide for Maine fried clams. By the time you read this, they will likely be nonexistent or endangered and protected. Without a shell, they are like a knight without his armor.
I fear you will not be able to enjoy the oceans I have lived alongside and loved for my entire life. I wonder if you will ever be able to hunt and catch crabs, to swim in the ocean currents, or to taste the seafood I have grown up on.
I wish you could see the mountains with their majestic glaciers, the running rivers abundant with salmon, and the beaches I now take for granted. I wish you could hear the sound of the birds singing every morning.
I wish you could walk the boardwalks lining the East coast that have surely been wiped away by the storms.
But the changes occurring in Earth’s climate will not let you experience these things my child. The glaciers will have melted away, as they already are doing today. The rivers will not run with the fervor that they always have. The lack of snow and glaciers will starve your rivers, your lakes – your source of fresh water. The one thing that is completely essential to life could be rationed or banned. The cold winters are harsh for the birds and as some places like Maine get harsher winters, they may have to find new homes. The rising sea level means the beaches I sit on will not be the same beaches you sit on. You will never be able to hunt for crabs under the same rocks I once did.
I am sorry my generation and my parent’s generation couldn’t control our impulses. We had such lavish lifestyles, and were determined to keep these at any cost. We couldn’t find a sustainable balance between our commercial wants and our basic needs. We cannot even be completely to blame for it. The power was never in our hands, our democratic system broken by the power of money and a media that bowed to this very power. The power of economic growth and the need to feed our capitalistic society runs through the veins of decision makers like the river ran through the valleys.
You can’t understand these things yet little one, but you will, and if you’re anything like me, you will grow to hate it. You will realize, in the country I have raised you in, people don’t understand how they were making decisions that wouldn’t be confronted until generations later. For the lack of a decision, is a decision in itself.
Baby I’m sorry you will never get to see the elephants, the tigers, the polar bears. I am so sorry you will only know what many animals are like from the old pictures you see. The droughts have affected the wildlife the most. They just couldn’t adapt fast enough to their changing environment. By the time you are reading this extinction is probably an everyday occurrence; I’ve heard scientists predict one-fourth of species to be extinct by 2050. I hope you are healthy and happy young one.
I can only imagine the health of the world you are living in. The strain on the food system caused by the heat, drought, and increasing population could be a terrible combination. The chemicals they spray the food with are probably getting stronger at the same time the pests are becoming more resistant to their effects. I hope the air is okay; emissions were bad when I was young, and I’m sure they have only gotten worse. Plus I’m sure the longer growing season makes for some pretty bad allergies. I have quite a few years until you will be reading this. I really hope we make some progress before then.
At this point, we may develop a healthier and happier planet, or we may send it spiraling into an uncontrollable downfall. I hope, when you get to read this, you will think I am crazy. You will say your mom thought the Earth could not be saved, but it was. That is for my generation to decide. Decades of institutionalized destruction are difficult to overturn.
It will take radical changes, and a whole lot of people caring enough to change the way they are living. I just hope for your sake, we can do something in time. I cannot wait to meet you,
Julianna Fischer is a student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. She is studying Environmental Policy, Energy Policy, and Economics with a focus on transitioning the world’s energy systems. In the fall of 2015 she will be President of Students for Renewable Energy, a campus club leading the campaign to urge Western Washington University to divest from fossil fuels.