COMMENTARY: A gift for the future, for a child born today

Choosing a bright future for children by taking action for climate justice.

  • Wednesday, September 15, 2021 1:55pm
  • Opinion
(Courtesy Photo) Rivera Sun

(Courtesy Photo) Rivera Sun

Today, a child was born, tiny hands curling and unfurling with the startled shock of cool air on wet skin, oxygen flooding into newly-opened lungs as she cries upon entering this strange new world.

This child will likely live to see 2100. The date hangs, inconceivable, futuristic, but now within the span of a single lifetime. The child will be older by then, close to 80. She will have lived through every dire climate prediction modeled by modernity’s soothsayers, the scientists. She will have seen the full weight of our failures in the times she was too young to remember, these next few years when an immediate transition away from fossil fuels is an imperative for the survival of humanity.

I hope she remembers the story about to unfold, a story that began decades ago and is rapidly approaching the climax of its epic, the story in which billions of human beings rise up for their shared love of this Earth. Like thwarting monsters of old, we will wrestle fossil fuels back into the ground, dethrone the titans of industry, and stop the headlong plunge into the hell realms of the Sixth Mass Extinction. These times are the star-stuff of legends, if we survive long enough.

If we don’t turn this story around, the tiny newborn arriving today will grow up in the greatest tragedy ever to hit our species, the catastrophic collapse of all we know and love. As an 80-year-old grandmother, she will see the dawn of a new, bleak century, awash in the wreckage of nuclear waste, plastic pollution, ruined cities, dust bowls of barren farmlands. Hers will not be the Silent Spring of which Rachel Carson warned. It will be the Silent Century.

She will be tough, this old woman in 2100. She will have survived decades of horrors: heat waves roasting the corn on the stalk and melting the onions in the fields, superstorms that slam the coastlines and flatten cities, torrential flooding that sweeps whole towns away, vanishing ice caps, rising seas that swallow Florida in a gulp, early frosts that lead to crop failures and empty grocery store shelves, desperate wars fought for water amidst unrelenting droughts.

It reads like a Biblical curse. We are the ones hurling it in her fragile, newborn face. We are the wicked fairy godmothers hovering over her cradle, poised to ruin her life. But we don’t have to be.

In these next few years, as she learns to crawl, speak, count, walk, we still have time to change the story of her life. As an 80-year-old in 2100, she may be able to tell a vastly different tale than the apocalyptic tragedy that awaits. But, before she even learns to read, we must take immediate action. We must declare a climate emergency, demand a swift transition away from fossil fuels, defund polluting industries, invent in and deploy clean renewable energies, overhaul destructive agricultural practices, and more.

If we do all this with vision and conviction, as a grandmother in the new century, she will speak of our courage and sacrifice. She will tell her grandchildren how everything changed as she grew up. She will speak of her career in restoring ecosystems alongside so many of her generation. She will have seen upheavals, yes, and the lingering instability of our damage to the Earth, but she will be able to speak with hope and pride.

The newborn in her parents’ arms today will live to see the birds return in vast flocks. She will see the whales rebound in great proliferating pods that sing across the slowly cooling seas. The aerial photo maps of her world will change color as she supports global reforestation projects to reverse desertification. She will taste the harvest from her local farms and know the journey her water took to reach her. She will have a hope that seems impossible to us today. She will have hope because of us.

And that is what we can do with our lives, right here and right now, to bless this child and all the others entering the world today, tomorrow, and the next day. We can take action for climate justice and give the young ones a gift unparalleled by any fairy godmother.

We can lift the curse that sits upon them. We can give them cause for hope, instead.

Joy for this child or misery for this child. To choose joy is to commit to action.

Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns. Find out more about PeaceVoice, based in Portland, Oregon, at

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

COMMENTARY: Help is available for those facing eviction and foreclosure

Resources are available through the King County Dispute Resolution Center.

Editorial: Pick Your Battles

There’s no shortage of hard issues that need to be tackled these days—from COVID to ferry woes.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

COMMENTARY: New program addresses affordable housing crisis on Vashon

IFCH is developing a lottery program to ease rental burdens for some households.

Editorial: It’s time to step up to help the helpers on Vashon

We must not ever take these deeply community-minded experts and volunteers for granted.

Courtesy Photo
Vashon volunteers added to the contents of an ETAP (Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol) collection tent, during a beach cleanup in the spring at the north end of Quartermaster Harbor near Portage.
Green Briefs: Vashon gets state help with first official beach clean-up

More than 2,700 pieces of litter, weighing more than 400 pounds, were characterized and documented.

COMMENTARY: A poetic plea to support the work of Partners in Education

Marie Koltchak invokes the rhymes of Dr. Seuss to remind islanders of the upcoming PIE phonathon.

COMMENTARY: DOVE Project helps survivors of domestic violence find hope

The DOVE Project exists to provide support and hope to survivors of domestic violence.

Feel-good fall fundraisers

Help raise the roof for longtime islander, then cast your votes in VoV’s lip-synch battle

Editorial: Good governance means putting the people who are served first

During a crisis, we look to steady, consistent leadership at all levels of government.

Letters to the editor | Sept. 30 edition

Islanders write about Chief Krimmert’s vaccination, Fr. Tryphon’s religious exemption request & more.

COMMENTARY: Chief Krimmert: I Got the Shot

Fire Chief Charles Krimmert addresses the community regarding his recent COVID-19 vaccination.