Dear youngster sharing half my genes,

Should you be reading this, a magical night took place some years back. While I was admittedly hesitant, your mother decided it best that we ensure your earthly existence. Our home has been through an awful lot, though better days do seem to be ahead.

Not too long ago, we were speeding towards the irreversible collapse of all life-sustaining stuff.

I’m sure this may sound a bit shocking. But believe me, the previous status quo was so profitable that necessary fixes appeared almost impossible.

Our systems of producing, managing, and consuming energy had grown to benefit just a tiny ruling class. The non-rulers were meanwhile dealt unthinkable costs. In striking cases of injustice, those who contributed least to the crisis were the individuals experiencing its worst effects.

For decades of my life, elected officials and decision-makers attempted to remedy our dire circumstances. Yet year after year, our unprecedented situation only slid in the opposite direction. Divides along the so-called “developed” and “developing” world, intensified by differences between the Global North and Global South, continually impeded impactful diplomacy.

Then in 2015, the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference happened.

As delegatory discussions again sputtered, millions of concerned global citizens connected and collaborated, to ensure they were not fated with a fading future. Barriers across ages, ethnicities, and even religious beliefs soon became figments of the past. And the emerging people power grew ever stronger, constantly pushing towards a fairer and healthier world for all.

To be clear, much work remains. Inaction has indeed pushed our civilization to the brink. However, our ability to collectively rise during these pressing times offers me daily doses of hopeful confidence.


Your worn-out father

James Hartwell was a member of the #GulfSouthRising Climate Delegation.

As a native New Yorker now in New Orleans, he is learning and growing each and every day.


Title Photo courtesy of Dion van Huyssteen, via Flickr’s Creative Commons.