On Saturday morning I woke up just before 5 am to the sound of crying. It turned out that a slight fever and teething were responsible. After a few minutes of cuddling and reading books, all was well.
Since I was up, I checked my email. I found out that a few hours earlier, just after 1 am, the Senate had passed a bill saying it would be okay with them if US planes landing in Europe ignored Europe’s climate laws. The bill also gave a glimmer of hope. It implied that the FAA and State Department needed to ramp up their efforts to negotiate a global deal to reduce carbon pollution from planes at a meeting that only occurs every three years, and will happen next in September 2013, just before my son turns 3.
I looked up from reading about this obscure bill that had passed in the middle of the night, and watched my son play. He had a stuffed polar bear and a stuffed walrus on the floor facing each other, and he had placed a book in front of each of them. “Polah Bear! Wawus! Reading!,” he told me with a grin.
I smiled, but my mind was flicking through a sideshow of disturbing images from the past months. I pictured the image of the top of the world, showing half the polar ice cap missing- the home of the real polar bear and the real walrus. My mind flicked through all the weird weather images, from scorched crops, to larger wildfires, and unprecedented floods. When would it be enough to make politicians decide that it shouldn’t be free to pollute?
I wondered if anyone at the FAA or State Department was up before sunrise watching their kids play. Were there airline executives tending to their babies’ fevers at 5 am? I guessed there probably were.
I smiled again. My son was still being cute, and I liked the idea that we all want to protect the air for our babies, and leave them the legacy of a stable climate. I hoped that in a year I would be woken up a at 5 am with good news, and I imagined a headline: “Friendlier skies: airlines, countries agree to put a price on pollution”
About Keya Chatterjee
Keya Chatterjee is a Climate Change and Environment expert, and Director for International Climate Policy at World Wildlife Fund. Her work focuses on the environmental crisis facing the planet, and what policies and measures should be taken to ameliorate the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Keya’s commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets including USA Today, CNN, and NBC Nightly News. Keya resides in Washington, DC with her husband Andrew and her son Siddharth. She enjoys practicing yoga, biking, and spending time with her friends and family. She is working on a book about how to have a baby without raising your carbon footprint to be published in 2013 by Ig Publishing. Keep up with Keya’s writing on the nexus of climate change activism and motherhood at www.keyachatterjee.com.