Here are some facts. Today I am angry. I share this sentiment with many around the world. It is not a new anger. It has been festering for a long time.
Here is another fact. Today the United States has elected someone who believes climate change cannot exist because if it does it will negatively impact businesses.
They have elected someone who believes that the Chinese manufactured global warming. There is more. There is much, much more, but we do not need a laundry list of egregious statements right now. The past year and a half (has it been that long?) should have illustrated those enough.
Here are some more facts. COP21 is gone. The steps taken by the Environmental Protection Agency are gone. There are a thousand smaller deaths, too. We will not see them: they will be in frog species that may have had life-saving chemicals in their tongues gone extinct because of development that would not have been allowed otherwise. They will be in storms increasing in ferocity by incremental degrees. They will be in a food system gradually eroding. They will be in the loss of one more rainforest for a palm oil plantation, and then another. And then another, till the last Bornean orangutan clings to a lone tree in a desolate landscape.
Today I am angry because the environment is a niche issue. Because being concerned about the environment is seen as a purely liberal domain. Because believing in climate change makes you a “greenie”. Today I am angry because the decisions that are made in the next four years will affect the next million. Here is the problem: human rights laws can be repealed and then reinstituted. Technically so, too, can environmental laws. But while human rights, or lack thereof, will affect a generation, the lack of environmental protection – of the rights of the natural world to remain as it has – will affect millennia.
I feel jaded and pessimistic at sixteen and I should not. I went snorkelling this past weekend and the thought playing on loop was this: will I be able to see these coral reefs in fifty years? In twenty years? In ten?
I think what should shine through from this hellhole is love for the world. I hope that the increased fragility of our biosphere has reminded us how beautiful it is.
So here are some more facts which are just as important to remember.
Today, we have the chance to witness mountains in the state they have remained for eons, to see the scars of our world’s formation on their flanks and be reminded that we are universal seconds from the dinosaurs.
Just beneath the surface are worlds we have only just begin to understand, are organisms larger and more complex that we can even wrap our brains, are pure, simple colors we cannot comprehend or capture in a single image.
Above us soar creatures who travel distances we do not understand for reasons more primal than those for any of our selfish actions. They travel because they have to and are true and constant in their course. We can depend on their movements if not anything else, guided as they are by sun and stars.
And sun and stars and moon and planets: what have we ever done to deserve such a brilliant spectacle every night? To look upon the formation of galaxies simply by turning our heads upwards? To be able to see supernovas and nebulas and universal history in pieces of sky the width of our thumbs?
All the pieces of beauty, large and small – a cliff standing jagged and proud after centuries of weathering, a drongo dancing over a highway in the morning light, the sunset staining a skyscraper orange – they are all facts, too.
I am not saying anything will be okay. I cannot know that. But please, love our world. Love with all the furious might you can: its diverse cultures and peoples and natural habitats, the organisms, the complexity of its creation. Love with every stardust-birthed atom in your body. The fact of our love and our care and our passion for our home should not be in question. It should be truer than anything we have ever believed in.