14 October 2016

All the family I have known and met - lived through 250 years!

Talking about climate change, sea level rise, and their effects is easy. Getting folks, myself included, to actually act on this monumental challenge is the big obstacle.

One of the many challenges is getting a grasp on the long time horizons - if we don't reduce emissions now, the world will be flooded by 10 feet in 90 years.

After having a daughter I've thought a lot about what the world will look like in the year 2050 and 2100. I'll be alive in 2050, quite possibly, when I'll be 80 years old. However, my daughter will only be 38 years old. And in 2100, she'll be 88 years old. Three of my grandparents lived to 90 years or older, so there's a decent chance she might make it to then.

All this means that my daughter is very very likely to live in a VERY different world in 2100, or even in 2079 when she'll be eligible for Social Security benefits - assuming the program still exists.

Thinking further, I thought to myself, how can I and other people, better connect to the idea that the here an now affects the world in 25, 50, 100 and even 150 years from now. So I wondered, who in my family will I know and what years did they all live in.

As indicated in the chart below, my older grandfather was born in 1899, and my potential granddaughter will live to 2150 when she'll be 97.

The family I know will have spanned 251 years and five generations. 
Image: Brian Stokle/Urban Life Signs
So when we're talking about reducing emissions, and making tough decisions on how to get there - like eliminating all gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030, remember that your children and grandchildren will be living past the year 2100 and trying to cope with a hot world, with flooded historic cities, with international refugees fleeing flooded cities.


True 250 years is a long time. My great great great grandmother, Mary Anne Blue was born in 1822 in Ohio and died in Iowa in 1902, nearly 70 years before I was born. It would have been nearly impossible for her to help plan for a world 150 years into the future - to the year 2020. At the least, I would hope that she cared. I hope that she would make an effort to foster a world where her great great great grandson could breathe, drink water, eat food, and survive in this world.

So when we're going about our daily lives, getting to work, thinking of buying a car, and throwing out the garbage, let's think about the kids we'll know who will be born in the coming 20 to 40 years who will live past the year 2100 and quite possibly to the year 2150. Let's make sure our small and big decisions keep them in mind. Whether it's voting for a politician who believes in climate change, or just deciding on whether to drive somewhere that you could easily get to by transit. Your little decisions today will affect your "Marry Anne Future" you.



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