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Antoinette Wisbey's Letter
To my future grandchild,
I haven't met you yet as you are still inside your mother, tiny but growing. We hope you will enter the world safely, grow up and read this letter. I hope other children and humans will read this and similar letters which show the feelings of people of 2022.
I fear for your future. For the past 200 years scientists have known the effects of carbon, nitrogen and methane in our atmosphere heating up the world, potentially to a dangerous level for all life on earth. With modern industrial extraction of fossil fuels for materials and energy, the earth is not able to absorb (sequester) this now. Since the late 60s that this has become a reality for scientists, who passed this message through to the public via charity groups such as Friends of the Earth.
However, it also became a reality for powerful energy-producing companies, big oil and gas companies who were/are extracting these fossil fuels from deep in the earth. (Eg they attended conferences and meetings in the 70s when they discussed the situation.) So these companies were fully aware of the effects. Instead of planning ahead for a switch to renewable fuels and so ending this world-wide danger, they set up systems and bribed politicians, the media and some so-called scientists to deny this reality and convince people there was no danger. Meanwhile they continued to search for even more fossil fuels! Even though most of the people involved in this hoax had children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren, they denied and lied. Yet they had families to protect, as well as the whole world and everything living on it.
There is some hope, as renewable energy is all around us. We have energy from sea and tides, wind and solar energy. This is the irony of the situation. These are completely pollution-free ways of giving the world endless supplies of heat and light and energy for production. They are also a source of wealth for companies that develop them. Yet we are only just starting to get politicians to do something about using renewables in a serious way. Even so, this is not reducing the production of fossil fuels and there are even plans to increase gas and coal.....stupid, arrogant and greedy.
While I write, the Arctic is melting faster than predicted. We do not exactly know what feedbacks will occur. However, the world's supply of fresh water will drastically reduce and never recover to present day levels. At present we have ice on mountains as primary water supply but snow is thinner in a warming world. Glaciers are melting fast as the earth is heating. So those countries (including UK) which rely on mountain ice, and glaciers for aquifers, lakes, rivers (under and over ground) and reservoirs, will be without these sources. Oceans could be desalinated but this is difficult for inland countries. It would require a lot of energy to make enough fresh water from the sea. I imagine a world without water. People (and animals) will die in a week. Crops will not grow. Trees and grassland will die. Deserts will become vaster and increase the heat and dryness of the world....feedback from lost rainforests will exacerbate the process, etc. The once-frozen Steppes are melting now and releasing billions of tons of methane, the most pernicious greenhouse gas.....
But to add to this, the seas are warming (and absorbing and producing methane). All marine life could die. Plankton on the sea acts as a major absorber of carbon. When plankton dies, not only will the marine food chain die off, but even more carbon will remain in the atmosphere, heating up the world even more.
The irony is, no one is safe. Not even the the fossil fuel companies and their associates.
No matter how wealthy, they rely on the same basic sources and resources that poor people rely on to live. Even if they stockpiled water, their quality of life before it ran out and they died would be very poor, the world an advancing desert.
I hope when you are reading this that you will laugh at my fears and say, but dear Late Great Nanny, no one produces fossil fuels any more! We only have renewables, even for steel-production! Plastics are made from natural materials too! You were worried for nothing. Well, I would love to be wrong. My dread for the future when I am gone is so strong that I feel hopeless, helpless and angry. The UK and all world governments should have moved 20, even 10, years ago to reverse the terrible world effects we see now. Millions of people are dying now as I write, from famine caused by drought or flood, for example. This will soon be happening in the richer countries, but politicians have not shown concern and clever, powerful climate change leadership.
At time of writing we still have a chance to slow the process down. Let's hope we act now so you (and all my great grandchildren) will inherit an optimistic, fossil fuel free future, not one of dread.
My love to you,
Great Nanny Toni
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