Climate

Out of office: For the planet.

September 2019

BY

William Smith-Stubbs

I want to have kids.

I never thought that would be something I would feel. The responsibility, and life-changing effects of having children had always seemed overwhelming. This was an endeavour for someone else.

Besides, I’ve got five siblings and two step-siblings — I’d probably be eventually flooded with nieces and nephews. This familial offspring-adjacency would surely suffice.

That changed when my nephew was born just more than three years ago. His grubby, vaguely familiar newborn face triggered something in me I had never felt so strongly before — something deep inside of me said, with alarming clarity: ‘Protect this being at all costs.’

I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be a parent. And as scary as the thought was — I began to understand the desire to have children. And that, someday, I might want to be a parent, too.

A few months ago, my siblings and I had converged from across the globe to Hong Kong, to celebrate with our brother who was due to have their first kid.

One morning, while the rest of the family were slowly rousing, my eldest brother and I slipped out to a hole-in-the-wall espresso and cocktail bar in Sheung Wan. It was a stupidly hot and humid day, even in the morning. We sat by the window and watched as the street began to fill with cars and pedestrians, on a backdrop of apartments barnacled by air conditioners boxes.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had met with and listened to Al Gore at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps event in Brisbane, Australia. It was an equally existentially terrifying and inspiring experience.

As I sat with my brother, I couldn’t help but ask if he worried about his son’s future. Did he worry about the kind of planet he son would inherit?

The answer was yes, absolutely.

I worry, too. I worry for the future of my nephews and nieces, for any children I may yet have, and for the children of everyone else. What world will they inherit? Will it be ravaged by the ignorance of its previous tenants? Or will it have been transformed in an Age of Sustainability?

I am, by nature, an eternal optimist. Some might put this down to naivety, a lack of information, or pure arrogance. And they may be right — to all the above. But still, I believe that the human race is capable of incredible feats of change, both good and bad.

I acknowledge that climate change is the greatest threat to our existence we’ve ever faced. And yet, I do believe we will make it through. We have faced significant social change, industrial upheaval, economic ordeal in the past. All of which may have just been a warm up for this.

Renewable energy options continue their eventual takeover of fossil fuels, and new developments in carbon atmosphere reduction continue to arise. Our ingenuity — and mercantile motivations — will, in the end, turn our course.

I do believe we will make it through — and that there are better days still, that our children may enjoy.

But, this is not a given

We have a limited time to act to secure the future we want. We require effective policy change, strong leadership, rapid innovation, and significant social behavioural change.

We need everyone to play a part. From opting for better consumer choices, to lobbying their representatives, to making their voice heard as clearly as possible.

This is why on the 20th of September, 2019, the spur: office will be closed.

This is not just out of respect for the Climate Strike, but to facilitate anyone in the team to attend the event in their city, if they wish.

Personally, I’ll be there.

Because as much as I believe in the wonders of humanity, I worry too.

And when my nephew is grown up, in whatever world he finds himself, I want to be able to tell him that I was, at the very least, there.