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CNN’s Bill Weir pens sad & depressing climate doom letter to his son: ‘I’m sorry we broke the sea and sky’…’A Letter to My Son About the Earth He’ll Inherit’

Weir is an Emmy Award-winning television journalist who has reported from all fifty states and over fifty countries on every continent. After covering sports in Green Bay, Chicago, and Los Angeles early in his career, he spent a decade as co-anchor of Good Morning America and Nightline at ABC before moving to CNN in 2013. After writing and hosting four seasons of The Wonder List with Bill Weir, he was named the first Chief Climate Correspondent in network news in 2019. He is the author of Life As We Know It (Can Be)


Dear River,

Against all odds, you were conceived in a lighthouse, born into a pandemic, learned to crawl amid democratic and industrial revolutions, and have tasted just enough of Life as We Know It to resent us when it’s gone.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry we broke the sea and sky and shortened the wings of the nightingale.

I’m sorry that the Great Barrier Reef is no longer great, that we value Amazon much more than the Amazon, and that the waterfront neighborhood where you are growing up could be condemned by rising seas before you’re old enough to apply for a mortgage.

The Earth I joined in 1967 is gone now, and no one knows what kind of planet will replace it.

The United States of America I knew and loved is gone now, too, eaten from the inside by metastasized lies fed to furious people in forgotten places.

Now, more than ever, human stories will be the difference between destruction and salvation. Old stories got us here, but new ones can get us out. They are the most powerful things we have, and they start with the stories we tell ourselves. For example, there is an old story that most Americans either don’t know that Earth is overheating or don’t care. This story was so sticky that if I’d asked my average countryman in 2022 to guess the percentage of fellow citizens concerned about climate change and supportive of action, they would have said between 37 and 43%.

Read More:Don’t Ignore Your Climate Anxiety

In reality, researchers at Princeton, Boston College, and the University of Indiana found it is 66 to 80%.

“Supporters of climate policies outnumber opponents two to one,” the authors of the study found, “while Americans falsely perceive nearly the opposite to be true.” They call this “pluralistic ignorance,” which means we are surrounded by allies we never knew we had. At the same time, while two-thirds of Americans say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming the same percentage says they talk about it with friends and family “rarely” or “never.”

River, this means that change for the better depends on the brave, lucky few born with the means and freedom to start conversations and a conviction to use that means and freedom, come what may.

The day I saw your scrunched little face for the first time, I went from the ultrasound to a climate march led by Greta Thunberg. By the time you read this, you’ll be able to find volumes written on how she was canonized and demonized, but back then I knew her as a young woman your sister’s age who had captured the world’s attention by leaving school every Friday to stage a lonely climate strike outside the Swedish parliament. When we met, she quietly entered the interview room with her hand-painted protest sign tucked under one thin arm, and she quickly showed a mind curious enough to digest the warnings from the scientists that others were ignoring, and honest enough to call out the arrogant ignorance and ignorant arrogance of all the grown-ups in charge. Her work has connected millions to the allies they didn’t know they had, and that post-ultrasound march was walking, breathing, traffic-stopping proof that the story might be changing.

After a century and a half of burning our fuel because it was cheap, the cheapest form of fuel man has ever known now comes from solar-powered batteries and onshore wind. And that is why, despite fierce partisan and industry resistance, Texas produces more of this clean energy than California.

It’s not the end of life.

It’s the end of “as we know it.”

And climate change on a degraded planet is not a problem created or solved by physics or technology. It is a problem created and solved by stories.

River, you have a good shot at seeing the 22nd  century!

And when you get there, I want you to tell them how we came together, sorted out our problems, and wrote a better story.

Excerpted from Life as We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing Worldby Bill Weir. Published by Chronicle Prism, an imprint of Chronicle Books. Copyright © 2024 by Bill Weir.



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