Welcome to a regular day in my neighborhood. (Photo by Ali Claypoole)
Just this month, much of the western US went up in flames and hurricane Sally ripped through the neighborhood of some of our relatives in Alabama, killing trees and filling streets with wreckage. Meanwhile, after walking through our yard which was strewn with the fronds the hurricane ripped from the palm trees, we headed out for a walk. What we found was no surprise, the neighborhood was flooded, as usual. Most days now we have to wade to our grandma’s house or loop around the higher parts of the neighborhood to get there. Sometimes there is so much water in the street that I have trouble biking through it. The neighbors put up a no wake sign, facing not the bay, but the road.
At the moment, the floods our inconvenient and worrisome. But they are just the beginning, our island is sinking. Well, actually the water is rising and swallowing it up. The beaches are crumbling into the sea, water is coming out of the storm drains, and trees are losing their footing and tumbling into the water and onto the remaining sand. This morning the bench that sat facing the water, behind many feet of sand had waves lapping at its feet.
This bench used to sit at the back of the beach. The high tide line is around 20 feet behind the bench on the other side of the street. (Photo by Brice Claypoole)
Hmmm, something isn’t right here. Oh, that’s it, grandma didn’t buy waterfront property! (Photo by Brice Claypoole)
Another part of our neighborhood. (Photo by Ali Claypoole)
The canal breached the seawall again. (Photo by Brice Claypoole)
Whenever the tide is coming in, water comes out of the storm drains. (Photo by Brice Claypoole)
Why is this happening? Because of climate change. We need to be fighting for the environment, not pretending this isn’t happening. But that is exactly what we are doing; just the other day our president said, “I don't think science knows”. He has also called climate change "mythical", "nonexistent", or "an expensive hoax”. I guess my neighborhood flooding and my island sinking is a “hoax”. We can take the president’s advice and pretend climate change is a fraud, but if we do that, then we will end up underwater. And we won’t be the only ones, many of the animals who share the Earth with us will also die.
So, how did we get here? We got here by pumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere for decades.
At first, this was forgivable. How were we supposed to know it would destroy the planet? But for quite a while now we have known and we have not changed. We have ignored the facts because they make us scared and uncomfortable. And we will regret it, when it is our house that goes up in flames, when it is our house that ends up in the sea.
Soon, us kids will inherit the Earth and if you adults have not taken action, we will be handed a sad, unfixable mess. We will be given an uninhabitable, futureless planet. Our future depends on you. It may well be too late for my island; it may be flooded before I get a chance to bring my kids here. But it is not too late to save much of the world. You must act NOW, or our future is bleak. The first thing you can do is elect government officials who believe in the facts, instead of hiding from the truth while their nation burns around them. Also, vote for laws and taxes that will help the environment. We will get so much more out of them then we pay; which is more important, money or your kid’s future? You can also help by consuming less. Just about every product you buy impacts the environment, so only buy what you really need. When you do need to buy something, then whenever possible, buy the environmentally friendly version.
Please leave us kids a future.