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To Caitlin, the granddaughter of my friend Maria,
2030 doesn’t seem very far off to me, but seven years will make a lot of difference to you: by then you will be in your mid-teens, thinking about which subjects you want to continue studying at school, and perhaps looking forwards towards your future career. Life won’t be all work, though, and I hope you’ll be enjoying spending time with your family, and perhaps making some of the friendships which will last you a lifetime.
Here in 2023, it feels like a difficult time for so many people, and I feel frustrated by how slow people of my generation have been to understand the damage we have been doing to the ecosystems on which we rely, and how little we have done to address the mess we’re making. I haven’t given up hope, though: in my role as a highway engineer, I’m starting to see carbon emissions factored into our decision-making processes, and I’m sure this is the same for people working in other fields as well. On a personal level, too, I and people around me are making changes: considering how we travel, how we heat our houses, what we eat, and what we buy - or indeed, whether we need to buy anything at all.
So, what would I wish for you, future-Caitlin who lives in 2030? Confidence in the future: the knowledge that you will be able to study, to build a career, to travel, to find love and friendship. To live in a place where you can feel relaxed and comfortable. To have children, if you wish. To engage with and enjoy the natural world, whether that’s by planting trees or writing poems, watching birds in the garden or trekking in the mountains. And all this in the context of a world where human-caused climate change has been taken seriously and effective measures put in place to minimise the damage that it is doing across the world. Where politicians and other decision-makers have realised that our problems can’t be solved by more growth at any cost, because that cost is too high, and the people called upon to pay most of it are usually those least able to do so. Where the animals and plants with which we share our planet-home are valued, and where their needs are considered alongside our own. Where we value cooperation more highly than competition, and are using our ingenuity and creativity to solve the problems that in the past we unintentionally created.
So, I wish you the purr of turtle doves, and the buzzing of bees in the lavender… the song of a nightingale and the fluttering flight of a bat at twilight … the blue flash of a kingfisher, and the sudden splash as a frog leaps into a pond. Adventures close to home, and adventures far away, with people you already know and love, and with people you have yet to meet. Oh yes, and a hedgehog, like the one who came to call on me yesterday evening! It was quite small and very hungry, and I hope that in seven years’ time it’s descendants will still be here with me.
With love and best wishes,
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