By Erica Dodds, Chief Operating Officer
Earth Day is always an opportunity to reflect on the sustainability of our individual and systemic actions and to think about what we’d like to see change in the coming year. This year, I’m feeling extra reflective as my 3-month-old, Ari, experiences his first Earth Day.
As a new parent, I find that I’m always imagining my baby’s future. What will it be like when Ari starts walking to school on his own? When he starts to have sleepovers with friends? When he gets his first job? Has his own family?
Working in the climate space, as I do, the backdrop of these daydreams is always the climate. Will there be days when Ari can’t walk to school safely because the air is toxic with wildfire smoke? Will those days be more frequent than they are now? Will he be worried about the future of our climate? And if so, will he choose a job — as I did — working for a safer future?
My work with F4CR has always been focused on creating a safe and healthy climate for “future generations,” but until this year that concept was never concrete to me. This year, as I imagine the next dozen Earth Days, I’m thinking about the future I’d like to see for Ari, his peers, and their future children. Here’s what I’m dreaming of:
When Ari is a small child, the world will look largely like it does now. We’ll continue seeing and fearing extreme weather events, reading alarming (and alarmist) headlines, and calculating our individual carbon footprints to try to do our parts. As parents, my partner and I will cultivate in Ari a love of nature. He will be aware of concepts like sustainability and mitigation and will feel a sense of personal responsibility for the world around him. He may absorb some of the fear about climate change that permeates the air we breathe. But things will shift.
As Ari gets older, I imagine that the tenor of climate news will change. Alarmist headlines will become hopeful. Personal responsibility will shift to collective responsibility. Ari will still feel that he must care for our earth, but he’ll also know that we must hold powerful industries and corporations accountable for doing their part. Eco-anxiety will lighten as our global community and decision makers work toward climate restoration. New fields of climate restoration solutions will be developed and will grow, bringing hope and inspiration to the next generation of workers.
By the time Ari is in high school (in 2036, for anyone counting), Earth Day will become a true celebration of the progress we’ve made towards climate restoration. There will be more and ongoing work to be done, but we will be on the path towards a safe and healthy climate by 2050 (which is, of course, F4CR’s mission). By the time Ari starts college, there will be a wealth of job opportunities in the climate solution space, but his decision about whether to work in that area won’t be driven by fear.
This Earth Day, I’m dreaming of a future where today’s children will be free to build their futures based on their passions rather than their concerns. I hope you’ll join me in working for a positive climate future for our children.