To the future President of the United States:
We write before the election has been decided. We write as our country reels, bucks, and falls under the weight of a monster hurricane, which sent us running home to our families, battered our homes, endangered our lives, and stole from us the first world comforts of electricity, hot water, clean roads and easy transit. This week, we were rocked by a storm. This week, we were rocked by climate change. It was “megastorm cake with climate frosting on top,” according to Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. We turn on our televisions, turn our computers, and before us are images of great destruction: flooded subways, ruined homes, walls of water.
And so, in the wake of Sandy, on the eve of this election, we would like to speak to you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, welcome to four years in charge, whether those be four more years or perhaps the first of eight. Welcome to tremendous power, welcome to tremendous responsibility. In many ways, you hold within your power the fate of our planet.
Mr. President, during this election you and your opponent have ignored the largest issue of this century. As Bill McKibben, the nation’s leading environmentalist puts it: “climate change is the biggest thing that’s ever happened, hence the silence about it is both odd and paralyzing. It keeps us from really talking about the scale of change that we need.” And, Mr. President, the changes we must make are simply immense.
As students of Cabrini, representatives of the youth of the United States, aware citizens, and caring hearts, we ask you: please stop ignoring climate change. As Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist, puts it: “the evidence is what the planet is telling us, these are not political opinions.” It is no longer an issue of contention, no longer an issue to be debated, no longer an issue that can be ignored.
Joe Romm, PhD., climate journalist, summarized the recent scientific literature into these key impacts we face in the coming decades (if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path): staggeringly high temperature rise, 10° F over the United States; permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest and many other regions around the globe; sea level rise of 1 foot by 2050, and continued thereafter; massive species loss on land and sea, perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity; increasingly extreme weather; extreme food insecurity; a myriad of direct health impacts; and countless unknown, unexpected, and unpredictable impacts.
Mr. President, this is our planet. We are spending our time in school, preparing ourselves to go out into the world, a world that seems to be crumbling at the seams. So, Mr. President, the question is: Do you stand for us? Will you act for our future and that of our posterity?
Students of Cabrini College