At the huge Climate March in New York City in September of 2014, I spotted a child—perhaps a girl, perhaps a boy—perched on her father’s shoulders. She stared straight ahead, at the multitude of people in the parade that filled the city street ahead of her. Never before had she seen such a crowd, and now she was right there in the middle of that crowd. And—she must have understood, despite her young age—all of these people had a purpose. As her father had told her, all of these people were demanding a clean and healthy world.
Her father, unshaven, with very tired eyes, has perhaps driven some long distance so that he and his daughter could be here together on this historic day in New York. He wants his daughter to see—to experience—this uprising of people who care about their world. She will soon inherit a battered planet, perhaps a dying planet, and he wants her to know that there are many good people in the world, some her own age, and that they have a powerful voice.
Her picture is in The Climate Classroom, Volume II, along with the pictures of many other young people who inherit a battered planet. The book is her book, about her special moment in our long human journey. We have a choice: unprecedented catastrophes, or unprecedented progress. She is ready to work for that progress, if we give her the chance.
Maybe one day she will carry a child on her shoulders in a parade, when the world celebrates, twenty years from now, the victory of clean energy over the black poisons of coal and oil. Yes, when the world celebrates, twenty years from now, the return of snowy winters and cool, rainy summers and vast fields of green wheat and corn. The return of coral reefs and leaping dolphins. The return of Arctic ice and a growing population of healthy polar bears. The return of the rainforest and the butterflies and the koala bears and the orangutans and . . . the return of hope.
Maybe one day she will give this extraordinary gift to her own child.
Maybe one day.