What will we tell our kids?

By Celeste Meiffren-Swango
State Director

As House Bill 2020, the bill to cap and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, gets debated in the Oregon Legislature, I can’t help but think about my girls and their future.

We live in a pivotal time in human history—one where we, humans, collectively, have to decide our fate and the fate of all other life on earth. One where we have to stop inertia and fundamentally change the way we create and consume energy, get around and live our lives. One where the decisions we make today will determine the trajectory of human life as we know it.

Are we up for the challenge? I hope so.

If we don’t take bold action on climate change right now, what will I tell my kids? We couldn’t get it done because although the science is undeniable, some people didn’t “believe in it.” We couldn’t get it done because it may cost money. We couldn’t get it done because politicians with campaign coffers full of industry money decided this just wasn’t the right time. We couldn’t get it done because not enough people stood up and demanded that we get it done.

I like to imagine instead what it will be like if we do take action on climate change right now. What will I tell my kids? We got it done because a strong coalition came together, worked together with a shared vision and engaged Oregonians from all walks of life to call for change. We got it done because legislators put everything they had into creating a program that would reduce climate pollution, benefit Oregonians and serve as an example for other states to follow. I would tell them that this effort was the beginning—not the end—of our effort to tackle climate change. We got it done because their future matters more than anything.

Certainly, if we pass this bill right now, climate change will not be fixed—we will still have a lot of work to do. But in many ways, House Bill 2020 is a referendum on what our priorities are and the kind of future we want to build. I hope that we choose action.