I’m sorry if I’ve ever bent your ear about climate change. I’m sorry if I’ve consciously or unconsciously dismissed the important work that you are doing, thinking that you should turn your attention to climate change. I’m sorry if I’ve been arrogant, cavalier, pretentious or smug.
Sometimes I don’t have the best communication skills. Sometimes I can’t find the words, the tone of voice, or the soft heart, to say what it is I want to say. For the last seven or so years, I’ve felt as though I’ve been standing high on a mountain top with a bugle. A town crier of sorts. From where I was standing, I could see the sea rising, the hurricanes building momentum, the trees like kindling, waiting for a spark. I could see the air warming and the snow turning to rain. I kept sounding my bugle, but the screeching noise only made you put your hands over your ears.
You may have heard the story about the small town that discovered babies floating down the river. A team of people stood at the edge of the river, sinking their hands into the cold water to rescue the babies. Until someone said, “I’m going upstream to find out how it is that these babies are ending up in the river.”
I saw the droughts, fires, hurricanes and floods and from where I was standing I could see that they were intertwined, not disparate events. I saw the threads that wove them together. Too much fossil fuel being burned, heating things up by putting too much carbon in the atmosphere, changing all the weather patterns. Making hurricanes fiercer, fires hotter, floods more frequent.
I knew we, regular, ordinary people, could do something to make it stop. And if you happened to be standing at the edge of the water, pulling the babies out, you may not have been all that interested in what I had to say. I can hardly blame you. You had your hands full.
I didn’t know how to get your attention. To let you know that if you came upstream, saw the catastrophe from where I was standing, things would look different. I didn’t know how to tell you that, without making it sound like I was judging you, for focusing your attention on what was happening downstream.
Please accept my apology. I was scared. I was frustrated. Angry and upset. My intentions were good. I love this place we call earth. I love the trees, the butterflies, and the lakes. I was trying to get your attention and I didn’t always have the words.
I’m happy to say that in spite of, because of and independent of my ranting, people are listening. There is a bi-partisan climate solutions caucus in the United States House of Representatives. Two years ago, it was only an idea. Now there are 62 members; 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats. That means 62 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are having civil, productive conversations about climate solutions.
We all have our work to do. Upstream and downstream. Thank you for the work that you do, thank you for being the person who you are. This thing of being human—sometimes it’s hard and messy and I definitely don’t always get it right. I hope you will accept my apology.