Messages to the Future

trisha
Trisha Shrum at COP 21 in Paris

“You are not yet a year old. And I love you dearly. And I wanted to write you a letter to open in 50 years.” So begins a heartfelt letter from Trisha Shrum to her daughter Eleanor. The letter is more than a proclamation of love; it is an attempt to take climate change—an apathy inducing problem of unimaginable scale—and make it real, and personal, by relating it to her child.

As an academic studying environmental science and behavioral economics at Yale, Harvard and now the University of Colorado, Trisha has been investigating climate change issues and policy for over 10 years. Her academic background and the perspective that comes from being a new parent provided the tinder for an idea sparked by the words of Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Trisha writes of Figueres, “She said that future generations will look back on us and be shocked that we knew what climate change would likely entail and we didn’t do anything to stop it.”

The idea that emerged was to have people send messages to their descendants about the actions they were taking (or not) to address climate change. Trisha wrote to Eleanor, “If every person alive today wrote a letter to their children or grandchildren about their position and action on climate change, then we just might get somewhere. So I’m going to start with me and you.”

Trisha wrote that first letter and worked with co-founder Jill Kubit to build DearTomorrow, a project dedicated to making climate change personal by motivating people to write letters and create photo and video messages to loved ones in the future. They now have hundreds of letters and photos on their website. These are messages of love, concern and hope; messages meant to encourage action and help their authors and creators see climate change from a new perspective.

Trisha finished that first letter to her daughter with these words: “For you and for everyone else, I will try harder.”

And she has.

Explore existing letters and create your own message to the future by visiting www.deartomorrow.org.

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