The 100 Year Letter Project: Simon Donner

The 100 Year Letter Project: Simon Donner

We asked friends of DeSmogBlog to write a letter to their great, great grandchildren about their vision and hopes for their world in 100 years, in the context of global warming. Here's what climate scientist Simon Donner said:

Greetings from the year 2007,
I want to share a story of an old tradition among my family – your ancestors. At the end of December, we gather at the cottage on Muldrew Lake for a few days to mourn the year that has passed and celebrate the year that is to come. Ok, that’s what I’m supposed to say. Between you and me? The holiday is about converting the frozen lake into a hockey rink.

The process begins with shoveling all the snow off a huge area of the lake near the shore. With bold dreams of creating a NHL-sized rink, and only two decent shovels, this alone can take a day! The underlying ice surface is always too bumpy for skating. So we cut a hole in the ice with a hand auger – an old-fashioned tool even in our day – and bring up buckets of water to smooth the ice. We take turns sloshing the cold, cold water around the rink and running inside to dry our gloves and ourselves. It isn’t pretty, but it works.

When we are done, if we have any energy left, we put on our skates, grab our sticks and play; I hesitate to use the word hockey to describe what happens out on that ice. At midnight on December 31st, we all gather on the rink to clink glasses full of slushy champagne and sing of old acquaintances.

I’m telling you this story, because this year was different. We had the warmest November and December in history, thanks in part to that mischievous little boy, El Nino. There was no snow, no rink building and no skating.

Drinking my champagne, staring out as the rain poured down on the lake, I thought of you, the future Donners. Are you still shoveling snow off the lake and playing hockey at the cottage? Do you have to wait an extra month for the lake to freeze? Or does the lake not freeze at all?

I may be a climate scientist but I can’t know the answer to those questions. The grand experiment with the climate is still running. Your climate, your world, will be shaped in large part by the choices my generation is about to make. Maybe to you, we are famous. Maybe we are infamous. I hope for neither. I hope the history books – do you still have books? – say only that we made some obvious, necessary changes, and that you are out there cleaning the ice.

Your great, great grandfather,
Simon