The Skywriter

A Note from No Impact Man on Mother's Day


A Note from No Impact Man on Mother's Day


The following is an open note from Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) on the occasion of Mother's Day, 2008. Colin joins hundreds of others in asking for strong action on global warming this Mother's Day. Sign up to join No Impact Man by starting or joining a Mother's Day event near you next weekend:

To my wife, my love, my partner, my Michelle (and to the House of Representatives, the Senate, the current President, and the soon-to-be 2008 candidates for all of those offices),

A year and a half ago, I was desperately worried about the declining health of our planetary habitat and its consequences for human health, happiness and security. I worried about the kids caught up in Katrina and the kids in our hometown of New York City who have asthma because of the number of garbage trucks driving through their neighborhoods and the kids all over the world, born and unborn, who will suffer from the damage we have done and continue to do to our climate, air, water, and earth.

Because I was worried about all these things I came up with this hair-brained scheme for our little family to try to live a no-impact lifestyle for a year. I bounded up to you, Michelle, in my 44-year-old puppy dog manner, with this idea to try living without creating carbon emissions or water toxins or trash. You had no idea what you were getting into (and to be fair, neither did I), but you agreed.

It was hard on you. Although we learned a lot and ultimately improved our lives in many ways, the lifestyle changes we had to make weren’t always easy. Yet when your friends would ask you why you continued to put up with me and my crazy idea, you said it was because of our daughter Isabella. You wanted a better world for her. I so admire you for that, for being able to reflect in your life what is most important to us.

And over the course of the year, we got emails from thousands of families who were also trying. People all over the United States are struggling to figure out how to live a green life, a sustainable life. People all over the USA recognize that our culture has taken a wrong turn and they want to do something about it. Americans, in what ways they can, are trying to take responsibility.

Which is wonderful to me. But it’s also intensely sad.

Because—and I hate to sound harsh—the people who could really make our whole country “No Impact,” the ones who could make us a carbon neutral society, the ones who should be taking responsibility—our politicians—aren’t doing the job. As Betsy Taylor, head of 1Sky, points out, when the politicians talk about fixing climate change, they limit themselves to what is “politically possible” instead of using their vision and imaginations to achieve what is scientifically necessary.

What’s particularly distressing is that what the politicians call “politically possible” may well be defined by, for example, the $14 million federal candidates took from the oil industry in the 2006 election cycle. That’s all the more sad on Mothers’ Day, when we are celebrating the incredible human impulse to care for and nurture children and all those who are weaker than us and who will follow us in generations to come.

What we urgently need from our politicians is an end to this business-as-usual catering to special interests. We need politicians who are willing to turn away from the gifts of money—the politics of the possible—and instead, this Mothers’ Day, to think of their children and ours—the politics of leadership.

Isabella is who you thought of, Michelle, when you persevered through the No Impact project. Our children are who thousands upon thousands of families throughout the United States are thinking of when they try to make an effort in sustainable living. And it’s the children who we must now demand our politicians think of.

So Happy Mother’s Day, Michelle (and don’t worry, this note isn’t the only gift you’ll be getting!).

Love Colin

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