Hi. You don’t know me, but I’m your great-great grandchild.
I’m due to be born in the year 2108, which must really blow your mind but, hey—do the math. New technology lets us communicate with the past, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to let you know just how badly you screwed up.
You’ve probably heard that climate change is going to make things difficult for the likes of me, and I’m here to tell you that’s it’s completely true. Every day, we look at each other and go, Those assholes (meaning your generation), because you knew about the problem and you didn’t. Do. One. Thing.
Let me give you some facts about life on earth in 2133. I’m twenty-five. “Lucky” to have reached such an advanced age, by the way.
In North America (the United States doesn’t exist anymore per se), the average high temperature in the summer is 123℉. You don’t go outside without 400 SPF sunscreen and protective clothing, especially an infrared-blocking “sun wing” to keep your face shaded. Skin cancer is rampant. All outdoor manual labor happens at night. In fact, most of us sleep during the day and come out after sunset when the temperature drops to a delightful 99.
Most of the population has moved to the “northern interior,” we call it (your Canada), leaving huge swaths of land uninhabited throughout what you thought of as the Midwest and Great Plains. We call it the Asshole Desert. Thanks to climate change, it rains like a son of a bitch most of the winter, which carries away any topsoil you were oblivious enough to have left for us. The Mississippi River now meets the Gulf of Mexico just south of Memphis. Cities like New Orleans and Houston vanished decades ago. In fact, maybe you’ll be surprised to learn that treasure hunters now scuba dive into the underwater cities and raid bank vaults and cash registers for “old money,” which is useless as currency but quite valuable as museum curiosities—representing the thing you people seem to have lived and died for. Cold hard cash.
Florida is gone. New York City is a striking monument to your hubris, with only the tallest buildings sticking up over the surface of the Atlantic. Seattle is literally dead in the water.
More plant and animal species have gone extinct in the last one hundred years than in the entire history of life before that.
The Amazon rain forest is now thousands of square miles of wasteland. It turned out that developers, corporations, and the regional governments systematically destroyed it for profit. Any profit they might have gotten from it vaporized more than fifty years ago as they desperately tried to invest in measures to reverse global warming. Too late. The tipping point had been passed while you were still alive and kicking.
Water shortages (no, we still haven’t cracked the desalination fantasy you people thought would take care of everything) cause more deaths than skin cancer, infectious diseases, and suicide combined. And often the drinking water we can get our hands on is tainted. Many children die of plain old diarrhea.
I could go on.
Look, I know that you weren’t personally responsible for the climate catastrophe we find ourselves in now. I’m sure you recycled your trash and used organic light bulbs and eco-friendly toilet cleaner. I’m sure your heart was in the right place. But you—or people a lot like you—kept voting for politicians who denied that climate change was real. You postponed the inevitable. You didn’t think about us.
And so, as the planet grows more and more uninhabitable as time goes on (they say that human life will burn out within a hundred years), I just wanted to reach out and say, Hey, thanks. Thanks a lot.
And I’m not being facetious. Once humanity is gone, the earth stands a good chance of recovering. Forests will return. Species will rally. Equilibrium will be achieved, and it’s all because of you.
Here in the sunset of my own life, my only regret is that you didn’t accomplish it a little bit sooner.
Bailey McDermott is a graduate student and self-employed transportation facilitator (read: Lyft driver) from suburban Philadelphia. Says Bailey: “I refuse to reproduce until we solve this climate change thing.”