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A Promise to Posterity

In this blog, I would like to share a testimony that I gave at a public hearing in New Paltz on 2-28-2019 concerning the NY Climate and Community Protection Act. It has since been rebranded as the Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act. Here is the testimony:

I am Samrat Pathania, a US Citizen and resident of New Paltz. I have been living in my adopted country for over 13 years. I teach mathematics and physics for a living. I am not here to repeat the horrors predicted in IPCC’s special report from October last year. Nor will I talk about the dire warnings in the Fourth National Climate Assessment released right after last Thanksgiving. These resources all exist online for your perusal. I am also not here to list the specifics of the ramifications of the climate crisis on our communities. Other speakers have listed these and other pertinent facts succinctly. I stand here today as the father of a 13 year old American and native New Yorker. My daughter Annabella, who was born on Long Island, is a kind, compassionate and intelligent human being (the credit mostly goes to her mother). She will in all probability pursue higher education and be ready to start a career 12 years from now, which would be 2030. However, if we fail to rise up to the challenge of mitigating the climate crisis, I shudder to contemplate the kind of world she will inherit at the age of 25, the very moment when she is ready to step into the exciting world of adulthood. Our planet could pass the crucial 1.5°C threshold as early as 2030 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate. Does my daughter, and hundreds of millions of children like her, deserve the chance to live a life better than us? Or are we going to fail in fulfilling the fundamental promise that our constitution makes us? The preamble of the US constitution states that “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Please note that there is an emphasis on the word ‘Posterity’. Also make note of the phrase ‘a more perfect Union’. Though the specifics of what constitutes a more perfect union may have changed from the 18th century to the 21st century, the intention underlying those words remains clear. Our founding fathers established this nation so that they themselves and their future generations could be benefactors of the possibilities of living a better life. This is the foundation of all civilizations. No human being in their sane mind desires a worse world for their children than they themselves inherit. Yet, when I look around the world today, I am forced to come to the conclusion that most human beings have lost their minds. They are afflicted by a madness. Despite their repeated claims about how much they care about and love their children or their grandchildren, they constantly live in ways that are destroying the possibility of a better future for these children. And they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. I must warn you that these are not just those political conservatives who deny the scientific reality of climate change. Many progressives, who while acknowledging the truth of climate change, make little or no change to their way of life. This is a form of denialism too. I would like to end by making a humble plea to everyone in this room and anyone who might read this testimony. Given that climate change is an existential threat to our way of life and to that of our children, please, please educate yourself on this most crucial matter. Educate yourself and then take action, personal and political. But do not look at this challenge as an onerous one, for what can be more beautiful and rewarding than the project of building a more sustainable world for our children. Please join this project - now.

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