By Anika Molesworth
To my dear friend,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know you are weary, and I’m not surprised. You have started your days early and finished late. You have sat out on things that you would have much rather have been doing in order to get the work done. It is no surprise you are tired.
Even though you feel drained of energy and perhaps confused with the world, I want to tell you something important.
You did it.
You have made progress beyond your wildest imagination.
And I want to thank you for that.
Even though you might not see it all just yet, the changes you have made are extraordinary. You not only have changed yourself, your family and friends, your colleagues and neighbours, you have changed the world.
We who work on the climate issue tend to naturally look at the big picture. We see clearly planet Earth in our minds-eye. That beautiful blue orb with swirls of green and white. We understand the links between people, landscapes, oceans, plants, animals, rainfall, temperature and climate. And when we talk about change, we are talking about big change, planet-scale change, and that’s where we set our ambition and mark our achievements.
But I want you to look a bit closer to home. Zoom in even more than that. Right to where you are standing at this very moment. Now look beside you. I am standing right there next to you.
I am standing right at your side. Shoulder to shoulder, holding your hand. Now look to your other side. There you find another person, standing at your shoulder, holding your other hand. And next to each of our sides is someone else. Shoulder next to shoulder next to shoulder for as long as you can see. A line of people with no end, holding hands and looking forward. Someone is holding both of mine and both of yours, and these people have been inspired by us, look up to us, believe in us, and back us.
When you thought your voice wasn’t heard. It was.
When you thought your message wasn’t seen. It was.
When you worried that your energy was draining, your strength in the fight was weakening, and that you were left standing alone. You weren’t.
You are a champion for so many.
People who respect your voice and seek out what you are saying. People who believe your truth and act in a way they think you would act. People who share your message and in turn amplify your impact.
You see, you were never doing this alone. We were by your side the whole time, and others were beside ours.
And have you stopped to check the difference you have made? My gosh, it is admirable!
Remember when you found the courage to have one of those difficult conversations with someone who didn’t see eye-to-eye with you, and perhaps you didn’t convert them, but the person who was silently listening in most definitely was. And maybe channelling your strength, they will decide to engage in one of those difficult conversations too one day. Have you noticed your recycling in the home has improved because your kids understand how important it is, the same bright faces that run out into the garden to check if the carrots in the veggie patch are ready for plucking from the rich soil and compost they made. Have you noticed how your co-worker is googling electric cars, the same co-worker who proudly told you that they had a great conversation with a producer at the local farmers market. Your neighbour has a new rainwater tank because they saw the one in your garden, and solar panels are basking in the sun on roofs up and down your street. Have you noticed the ‘Stop Adani’ red diamond signs everywhere these days, and how people can tell you what that stands for because people like you have made it a symbol of our time.
Have we really moved in the right direction you ask?
Of course we have! No longer do I hear sentences with “climate debate”, “climate believers” or “climate sceptics.”
We have moved past that.
Climate change and the environment have become the most important topics in our country, and our politicians no longer debate the science but debate who has the best policy.
No longer are we asked “so what are the impacts of climate change” without the follow up “well, what do we need to do about it?”
Because of people like you, awareness of the issues has improved immeasurably and the conversation has changed. And because we are now having the right conversation, we can now make meaningful action.
We have engagement on this issue like never before. Students in the street are following your lead. The media outlets are now sharing your message. More people are listening than ever before, so now is not the time to let your voice falter.
So what now you ask?
Well I’m glad your curiosity is coming back.
What now? You take a deep breath, fill out your chest, squeeze my hand tight, and we take another step forward, along with everyone else who stands at our side.
We spread our optimism and paint our vision for the future more brightly and vividly than ever before. No alternative future comes close in comparison to that future we see and we share, and that is how we continue to move in the right direction. A future for our country with ambitious and science-based climate and energy policies, national climate adaptation strategies for agriculture, electric vehicles powered by renewable energy that we generate, so much renewable energy in fact that we export it overseas! We paint a future of healthy natural landscapes that are full of life because we used our wisdom to plant trees, revegetate the countryside, and protect the ancient giants who stand in our forests and along our riverbanks. Our vision of using our skills and incredible technology that we have in the Lucky Country to capture carbon, design the most energy-efficient houses with recycled materials, use the best crop and livestock genetics so we are resilient and bring down CO2 levels. And we encourage others to be creative and use their imaginations to come up with even more solutions!
We know how urgent the need for addressing climate change is. We know how critical the situation is. We know there are big steps to be taken, but we’ve got this.
And if you happen to glance back over your shoulder, you will see just how far we have come.
But now, let’s look forward, and create that future that we will all be proud of.