Have you ever stopped smoking, started an exercise program or gone on a diet? At first, the task seems herculean, but with concerted effort, the task slowly gets easier. However, even as it gets easier, one must always be on guard of a relapse. When relapse occurs, one has to get back on the bike and try again. Certainly, coming to an agreement is a hurdle, but an agreement is not an impossible task. Grit is needed from all of us, to change our ways for the better of all. The big challenge is to see the need for each country, each city and each town to make changes to our daily lives that bring positive change for the future of our climate. Grit requires an ability to see the big picture, much like stopping smoking, beginning to exercise or starting to shed the fat. Will we all agree right out of the gate? Probably not. Voltaire was correct when he stated, “Men argue. Nature acts.” Certainly, the plan agreed upon at COP21 will require give and take, and will be marked by relapses in our resolve.
Despite the obstacles inherent in an international agreement on climate change, we must broaden our perspective for the sake of the next generation. If one looks back at the discourse of our founding fathers, they were well aware of the difficulty of the task confronting them, but at the same time, they individually and collected persisted in drafting an agreement that would not only be acceptable to all of the colonies, but also that would last for generations to come. In doing so, they have inspired generations of people with their grit and determination.
How does all of this impact our attendance at COP21 and what does it mean in my role as an Educational Ambassador?
For the past six weeks, my fifth graders have been learning about an environmental problem in a hypothetical area as a lead-in to our discussions of climate change and to prepare them for their remote participation in COP21. As they have worked through the problem, they have begun to see the potential for a climate problem to have multiple origination points coupled with a combination of solutions. They have had the opportunity to discuss the problem and to investigate possible causes. They are also learning to do the hard thinking – to develop the grit – needed to create solutions to difficult problems like climate change.
As they develop this persistence in the face of big obstacles, I hope that as Educational Ambassador, I will be able to share examples of grit that I see in people around the globe, and thus help them to envision strategies of their own to hand off a better planet to future generations.