A recent trip to Grinnell Glacier in Montana was a stark reminder for me of the effects of climate change. But I have hope for the future and for our ability to leave a world for my children that is better than how my parents left it.
Recently, I went on a trip to Montana. We visited Glacier National Park, which was incredible. On the second day we were in the park, we hiked up to Grinnell Glacier. The hike was beautifully treacherous. The trail wound across the sides of mountains, with waterfalls spilling across the rocky trail. Berries grew plentifully, so if you got hungry, you need just reach down to pluck a bulging gem from beneath the leaves.
Grinnell Glacier in Montana; Photo credit: Adam Grambowski
At the top of the last stretch of trail, we got our first real view of the glacier. It was breathtaking. Imagine a huge expanse of purely white ice and snow sweeping down from the mountains into a lake that is light blue like the sea. From the lake, a beautiful waterfall tumbles down a cliff face into the valley below.
We climbed down so we were level with the glacier and some of us -- the braver ones -- took off our shoes and walked through the frigid glacier water. Man, was that cold!
Later, I sat on a rock on the shore of the lake with my feet in the water thinking how lucky I was to have the chance to see the glacier before it was gone. Sadly, because of climate change, the glacier was melting at an unnatural rate, and it was melting right before my eyes. I sat alone in the quiet of the melting, my feet turning blue in the crystal clear water. I felt heavy and melancholy.
My experience at Grinnell Glacier was a stark reminder that climate change is real and is impacting the world around us today.
So, on September 21st, I attended the People’s Climate March in New York City. It was by far the biggest climate rally in history - over 400,000 people came. At times, the march stretched more than four miles long. It was incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of people that care a great deal about climate change like me.
The march was organized because two days after it took place over 125 UN world leaders, including President Obama, met in New York to debate climate change action.
During that trip it really struck me how much of a turning point this moment in history is. I remember talking to a woman who had been a climate activist for almost her whole life. At one point in her life she had gotten so worn out that she gave up, but now that she has come back she is so relieved that she can finally glimpse the end of this fight. She seemed filled with hope, and as she spoke, tears spilled out of her eyes.
The future really is before us, I can see it. But we still have a long way to go before we get there. The movement among the people is growing to enormous sizes, but many world leaders have yet to join them.
I will be a part of the fight because I care about what happens to this planet, to our home. I care about the island communities who will be severely affected the rising sea levels, and the coastal cities who will be battling larger and more powerful hurricanes. I care about the forests that I grew up in, and all the natural places I have visited. I want my children and grandchildren to experience a world that is not worse than how my parents left it.
So if you care too, start a movement in your community, or join one that already exists. Educate your children, co-workers, classmates, anyone, and help them become stewards of the Earth. Every little thing counts, so join us, and be a part of the future.Caroline Petterson
Caroline is thirteen years old and lives in Lakewood, Colorado. She enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, beekeeping, gardening, photography, playing Ultimate, reading and writing. She’s a bit of a science geek and loves exploring the great outdoors. Right now, she is preparing for an October canoeing trip down Utah’s Green River.
Nature From a Kid's Point of View Time Out http://www.naturerocks.org/science-in-our-parks-and-public-lands.xml?ssSourceSiteId=nature A Classroom Without Walls: The Power of Outdoor Learning http://www.naturerocks.org/nature-rocks-2014-fall-nature-activity-guide-1.xml?ssSourceSiteId=nature 2014 Fall Nature Activity Guide