Dear Decaturish: This is a key moment to take climate actionPhoto provided to Decaturish
This story has been updated.
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Below is a letter that I previously sent to our five Georgia Public Service Commissioners. I hope that it will inspire you to write to them today, as they will vote on our state’s energy future on Thursday, July 21st. It is the number of emails they receive that will make a difference, so quick, short emails are best at this point. If you go to this link, https://www.decaturclimate.
Dear Public Service Commission,
Can I speak to you all for a moment, as a mom?
I am so worried about my daughter, Melissa, and I would like to share why.
COVID was hard, in so many ways, on all children. For Melissa, it was hard because it killed the momentum that youth and others were gaining on securing rapid climate action. It prevented massive, worldwide Earth Day mobilizations that had been planned for years. It shifted media focus away from the increasingly intense and more frequent climate fueled weather disasters occurring around the world.
Melissa wore herself thin these past few years, pouring hundreds of hours into trying to communicate climate science, get climate leaders elected, and get that momentum and focus back.
Currently, Melissa is on a 30-day backcountry trip with no access to technology. I hope that she has been able to let her mind rest and relax. However, next weekend, when she hops on a plane home, she will have her phone back. With it, she’ll see all the devastating news we’ve received over the past few weeks. She will learn that 6 justices on the Supreme Court gutted the EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change and that Joe Manchin, along with every single Senate Republican, eliminated the chance for any effective climate legislation this session.
And, likely, she will also learn that the Georgia Public Service Commissioners took no action to require Georgia Power to rapidly move to clean energy and increase energy efficiency programs.
She will have dozens of emails, voicemails and texts from other youth that she has worked with across the country, all of them pouring out their frustration, anger, and overwhelming sadness about our leaders’ choices.
I hope that her heart doesn’t break into tiny pieces. She cares so much about others, and she knows the tragic implications of not taking climate action now.
I hope that she doesn’t become cynical and stop believing that she can make a difference. Her optimism and enthusiasm are two of her most winning and endearing qualities.
I hope that she doesn’t choose to give up. The world needs people like her. But I also fear that she will now feel compelled to sacrifice her senior year to intense climate activism, and it hurts me to think of all that she would miss and how that would again wear her down.
Honestly, how can we, as adults, place this burden on our children and grandchildren? Both the burden of convincing leaders to take climate action and the burden of suffering the disastrous consequences if we don’t. Not all children are climate activists like Melissa, but climate anxiety is rampant among them.
We encourage our children to become scientists and engineers, but then they watch as so many leaders ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus and urgent call to climate action.
We teach our kids that you should clean up your own mess. The United States has historically contributed more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than any other country. And still, we are the number two carbon producer, but fossil fuel and utility companies are not held accountable. Instead, they are rewarded with licenses to continue polluting.
We teach our children to do the right thing, even if those around them are not. Politicians, on the other hand, use the excuse that India and China are not acting quickly on climate to ignore their own responsibility to rapidly decarbonize our economy.
We ask our children to care for those less fortunate and to be good stewards of the planet. Meanwhile, politicians stand to the side and watch, refusing to take necessary action as climate change fuels ravaging wildfires, extreme heat waves, droughts, and stronger hurricanes and flooding events.
I have to ask: when the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports came out over the last year, did the Commissioners ever discuss the findings among each other? In your position of such awesome power and responsibility regarding energy sourcing, did you ever once consider reaching out to IPCC scientists to discuss your skepticism about climate science and learn from the experts? The scientific consensus is clear, but are you listening?
Please do the right thing when you cast your vote on Thursday. Please consider Melissa and young people like her. Listen to the scientists. Vote to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy to protect a future for us all.