The following post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Letters to the Future, in conjunction with the U.N.'s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11), aka the climate-change conference. Letters to the Future is a project produced by the Sacramento News & Review, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the Media Consortium, in which a variety of writers, scientists, artists, and others were asked "to predict the outcome of the Paris talks (the success or failure and what came subsequently) as if writing to their children's children, six generations hence." To view the entire series, visit here. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #LettersToTheFuture, and follow @ParisLetters. For more information on the project, visit here.
Good day, my beautiful bounty. It probably feels redundant to someone rockin' in 2070, a year that's gotta be wavy in ways I can't imagine, but. ...
Your great, great-grandpappy is old school.
And when my old-school ass thinks about how the backdrop to your existence changed when the Paris climate talks failed, it harkens to the late-20th century rap duo Eric B. & Rakim. Music is forever. Probably, it sounds crazy that the musical idiom best known in your time as the foundation of the worldwide cough-syrup industry could ever have imparted anything enlightening. You can look it up though -- before the Telecommunications Act of '96 such transformations happened not infrequently.
But that's another letter. MC Rakim had this scrap of lyric from "Teach the Children" -- a pro-environment slapper that hit the atmosphere closer to Valdez newspaper-headline days than when the Web gave us pictures of death smoke plumes taking rise above Iraq. For you, these are abstract epochs. Alaska still had permafrost, the formerly frozen soil that kept methane safely underground. The domino that fell, permafrost. And I could tell you that humans skied Earth's mountains. Yes, I know: Snow. An antique reference, no question.
That Rakim verse. It went:
Teach the children, save the nation
I see the destruction, the situation
They're corrupt, and their time's up soon
But they'll blow it up and prepare life on the moon
My bounty, it's easy to Monday morning quarterback* from my 2015 vantage point. But I did not do an adequate job of teaching the children about what our corporate overlords had in store for them. Didn't do it with Exxon or Volkswagen. Didn't do it when Rakim initially sold me on the premise. And to be honest I haven't done a bunch of it this year, as sinkholes form and trees fall in parts of the Arctic that Mother Earth could only ever imagined frozen solid.
Make no mistake, I want these words to function as much as a godspeed note as one of confession. Good luck with your new methane-dictated normal, and the sonic pollution and spiritual upset of those executive flights to colonized Mars. Or, as the President calls that planet, the Home Office. Conditions should have never come to this, though. And we'll always have Paris, to remind us of what might have been.
*The NFL will be around forever, like herpes.
A former staff writer for ESPN The Magazine, the LA Weekly and freelancer for other publications, Alexander wrote the memoir Ghetto Celebrity. His audio narratives have formed the basis of two documentaries.