Hi. It's midsummer, 2009. August first. Do you all even use the Julian calendar? Or is it the year 14 or 28 or 112 of some new calendar? What might you be dating from? The fall of the American Empire, perhaps?
Okay. Here's where I'm coming from. Right now, the world political structure is pretty much intact. My name is Aimee. I was born in 1972, an optimistic year. The American Empire was more or less at it's apex, unless I'm totally mistaken. We were bestride the world, one of the two superpowers, along with the Soviet Union. My personal historical consciousness doesn't really come into being until about 1984, when Reagan was elected for the second time. The kinds of things my parents were concerned about were nuclear war, communism, abortion rights, and ... well, that's about all I can think of. I know from my own personal research that global climate change had already been identified as a threat, but only in rarified scientific circles. My own mother, for example, would not have heard of it at all.
Here's the weird thing - you might have a hard time even believing me. Climate change is currently considered - in 2009! - to be a topic of only moderate concern, sort of like acid rain or illiteracy. I live in a strange time: the scientific community is totally aware of the seriousness of climate change. There is almost complete consensus among scientists that climate change is happening and that it threatens human civilization. In fact, the current state of scientific consensus, as accessible via the internet, is that climate change will likely obliterate all human societies within the century - yet there is little or no political action to address the problem.
According to my personal research - which I admit and fervently hope may be mistaken - the population of the Earth may be reduced by 90% within the century. There's a book out called "the vanishing face of Gaia" which I am so far too chicken to read. The author, a respected climatologist, believes that by the year 2100 there will be only approximately 500,000 people on earth, "clinging to the circumpolar regions." I have often wished that people might voluntarily decide on negative population growth... if every woman were to bear only one child, the human population would halve itself in every generation. That would go a long way toward solving our ecological problems... though not all the way.
I, of course, have three children. My oldest is fifteen. When I got pregnant with her, I was a child myself. Global warming was a tiny blip on the horizon that I think I MAY have heard of once or twice... not that I would have paid any attention, at that age. Even my more recent children - two beautiful daughters ages almost six and four and a half - were born at a time that climate change was a subject unknown to all but those few involved in the science.
I swear to God, if I were starting over now, if I were twenty years old instead 0f thirty-seven, I wouldn't have any children at all. It's too early to tell if I'm merely paranoid or prescient, but I feel pessimistic enough about the future that I wish I were not responsible for the lives of young children. My god, friends, if you are in a similar situation, if the future looks to you as though it might be a lot worse than the past - if you can't see any way that you can provide for the security of your descendants - for God's sake, don't have any. If you already have children, you know exactly what I mean; and if you don't, there's no way I can explain. To have a child is to become a hostage to the future. Your hear, your very soul is forever forfeit.
You, who are reading this, already know if my worry and my planning was legitimate or not. You know what I do not: was I a nut-case, or was I a prudent planner? I have small children, and so I have no choice. I must try as best I can to plan for their future. Believing, as I do, that they will not be able to rely on a centralized government for basic needs, I must try to provide for those basic needs as best I can. I don't know if it is obvious or incredulous to you, the reader, what I myself was able to count on. I took for granted:
- Clean drinking water. Right now, in 2009, I pay $18/month (a very nominal sum) for as much clean water as a family of five needs. If I go over my five thousand gallons, I pay something like $2 per thousand gallons extra. It's completely ridiculously cheap.
- Affordable electricity. For approximately $100/month, I can keep the lights on all night. I can run the computer all night. I can cook, I can run a compact air conditioner, I can pretty much run whatever appliances I feel like without concern.
- Health insurance. Although it's expensive - perhaps 20% of my income - I can more pr less count on receiving whatever care I need. Maybe I'll go into debt, but nobody is going to repossess my home over health care.
Okay, my kids have called me. They are concerned about the air conditioning. Ha! I assume that if you have kids they are concerned about filling their empty bellies. Gotta go. My half hour is up.