Climate issues and the resultant discussions – especially with youth – continue to be on the rise as these issues critically affect natural systems and species. Calls to action, including the 2019 UN report on Climate Change, are also on the rise. Land Trust Alliance land and climate program manager Kelly Watkinson shares her thoughts on this important topic.
My position with the Land Trust Alliance’s Land and Climate Program affords me opportunities to talk about climate change with many different audiences. But even with all the experience under my belt, I struggle to discuss the issue with my children.
Admittedly, I feel a certain amount of guilt and shame because my generation largely avoided giving attention to or taking action on this looming threat. And it doesn’t help that my kids ask blunt questions. “If we know it’s happening and we know how to fix it, why don’t we?” Such a simple question. I struggle to provide a simple answer.
I take heart, though, that it is not just my children asking these types of questions. Kids around the world are increasingly taking a stand on this critical issue and asking tough questions of their parents, their governments and their community leaders.
Students such as 13-year old Alexandria Villasenor of New York, 12-year old Haven Coleman of Denver and 16-year old Isra Hirsi of Minneapolis helped inspire last month an estimated 1.4 million young people in 123 countries to skip school and demand stronger climate policies. It may go down as one of the largest environmental protests in history.
Other students are going even further. Recently, the youth-led climate advocacy group Minnesota Can’t Wait authored bold state legislation that was introduced by Rep. Frank Hornstein, Sen. Scott Dibble and 17 cosponsors.
In many ways, this issue resonates with land trusts because our community works for the benefit of future generations. We’re in the forever business. And I would argue that because of climate change, we have an obligation to future generations to do our work better.
We have an obligation to maximize the land’s ability to sequester and hold carbon. We need to understand how the impacts of climate change are making our conserved lands more vulnerable. And we have the ability — some might say an obligation — to prioritize actions that help our protected areas adapt as the natural world rearranges itself.
Time will tell how successful we are in our efforts. But the more we do now, the easier it will be for us to discuss climate change with our children. And that’s a conversation I desperately want to become easier.
Originally published on the LTA blog.