Sustainable Missoula: A Mother’s Day wish for our future

Winona Bateman and daughter Ellis

Sometimes in the amber light of evening, I carry my daughter around our backyard observing and dreaming: spotting birds or insects, pointing out Missoula’s natural landmarks and how to use them to navigate, discussing our plans for the summer.

Sometimes, in these sweet connected moments, her future on earth flashes before my eyes, poetically transmitted through her small, vulnerable body.

What hangs in the balance for my daughter—for us all—at this moment in history—as we teeter on the brink of a climate catastrophe, and the loss of more than a million species over the next few decades?

Here in Montana, my daughter’s physical and mental wellbeing will be threatened by increased smoke from wildfires and by spending more of her days in temperatures over 90 degrees, not to mention extreme weather events. Globally, the loss of animal and plant species means not only the spiritually devastating loss of the beauty, mystery, and wonder these creatures and their habitats offer, but it means quite literally the loss of species that support human life.

My daughter’s access to food may be complicated at some point by supply-chain disruptions due to extreme weather, and as extreme weather events destabilize our seasons, agriculture and gardening will be impacted.

Her access to water may become more stressful as diminished snowpack at low elevations may eventually impact availability of fresh water from our aquifer.

Her ability to enjoy her Montana outdoor heritage will be greatly impacted. With our earth warming rapidly, and western Montana facing more flooding in the spring, and very hot and dry summers, opportunities for camping, fishing, quiet hikes, and hunting, will be reduced by floodwaters, wildfire, smoke, and heat. The survival of Montana’s iconic creatures and plants that depend on particular, stable conditions will be challenged by these new conditions, and loss of habitat.

When my mind makes these direct connections between global warming and my daughter’s future, my heart breaks.

These moments, coupled with the mounting, urgent warnings from the world’s scientists that we are on the verge of a climate catastrophe, with just a short 10 years to turn things around, have pushed me to become an activist for my child’s future, for the future of all families.

For Mother’s Day, my wish for my daughter, for every family, for our shared future, is that we come together to avoid a full-blown climate emergency, and build a future where all of us, and the earth upon which we depend, thrive.

This means connecting deeply to our own personal values and passions: love of animals and plants, passion for hiking, fishing, hunting, gardening, camping, biking, any outdoor activity; our commitment to clean air and water; love of a vibrant community; love of our neighbors and families; love of God’s creation.

This means talking with one another on the street, in coffee shops or over the back fence to connect as people with a shared concern for our future, resisting the forces of distraction and indifference, to forge connections.

This means attuning ourselves to our common enemy: carbon emissions, and taking concrete action to make sure we eliminate them. This means pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone to engage in civic activities, perhaps things we thought weren’t for us, such as writing an op-ed, calling and writing to companies and politicians to demand they take action, or joining a protest. This means supporting our local government as it works to make real change, showing up for public comments, and voting to support candidates who are committed to a livable future.

This means envisioning an informed, compassionate and just transition to a green economy and a thriving planet.  

We can do it.

If we don’t eliminate carbon emissions and win the battle for a livable climate, we will lose all battles, leaving as our legacy a diminished, dying world. There is no time to put it off. This is our moment in history to stand up and fight.

We can do it.

Let’s come together and create a thriving future for all.  

Winona Bateman spearheads Families for A Livable Climate, an ad-hoc group of citizens in western Montana that is organizing families to advocate for their future in the face of climate change.

This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events:

May 11. Green New Deal Town Hall. Learn about the Green New Deal and hear from a panel of local leaders about how it connects to Missoula. Missoula Public Library large meeting room, 2pm.

May 11. Missoula Bike and Pedestrian Count. Counts help inform infrastructure planning. Volunteers needed. Sign up here. 12-2 pm.

May 16. Climate Resiliency Open House. Drop-in style public open house to discuss the recently released draft Vulnerabilities Assessment for Missoula County. Missoula County Courthouse, Sophie Moiese Room, noon – 1:30pm.

May 23. ZERO by FIFTY Community Series: Food & Organics. The next event in this new series on different topics related to zero waste in Missoula. Free Cycles, 5-7pm.

View more climate and energy events via Climate Smart Missoula’s Calendar.

There are many more conservation events for 2019 HERE.