Open Letter Indiegogo Campaign

Woohoo! 308 heroic humans contributed $34,853 to get the Open Letter published in the LA Times on Sunday, November 10th. The remainder went to the Alliance on Climate Education.

The Letter

Dear Xi Jinping (China), Barack Obama (USA), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Indonesia), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Manmohan Singh (India), Angela Merkel (Germany), Stephen Harper (Canada), Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia), David Cameron (UK), & Enrique Peña Nieto (Mexico)1

Dear Rex Tillerson (Exxon Mobil), Peter Voser (Royal Dutch Shell), Bob Dudley (BP), John Watson (Chevron), Ryan Lance (ConocoPhillips), Christophe de Margerie (Total), Maria das Graças Silva Foster (Petrobras), Paolo Scaroni (Eni), Vagit Alekperov (Lukoil), & Bill Klesse (Valero)2

Dear Peter Horrocks (BBC World Service), Brian Williams (NBC News), Ben Sherwood (ABC News), Jeff Fager (CBS News), Gary Knell (NPR), Gerard Baker (The Wall Street Journal.), David Callaway (USA Today), Roger Ailes (Fox News), Jill Abramson (The New York Times), & Jeff Zucker (CNN)3

Dear Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Charles Koch, David H. Koch, Li Ka-shing, Liliane Bettencourt, & Bernard Arnault4

This letter is addressed to you because you are influential, you have children, and you are not taking sufficient action on climate change.

Climate change has presented all of us with an enormous moral challenge, but the level of our personal responsibility is commensurate with the sphere of our influence. You have the resources to make a huge impact, and nothing less than a huge impact will be able to change the course we’re on. The rest of us can only hope to use our meager influence to influence you.

This letter is not going to make the case for the reality of climate change. Whatever you might say in public, you clearly accept its reality; your governments, organizations, and companies are already strategizing around how to cope with it. The purpose of this letter is to express moral outrage.

Generations before you faced challenges similar in scale and moral weight: fascism, genocide, epidemics, inequality. They are rightly remembered for bravely confronting the quandaries history presented to them. Unlike them, you dally in the face of this challenge and so, unlike them, you will be remembered as the generation who knew better but did nothing out of selfish shortsightedness.

Whether or not your place in history matters to you, you have children. Some of you even have grandchildren. They are the ones you love most dearly in this life and they stand to suffer terribly from the effects of climate change; yet you are effectively doing nothing to avert it.

The only reasonable explanation for your inaction is that you assume you’ll be able to protect your children and grandchildren because you are wealthy or powerful (or both). Unfortunately for all of us, you are wrong.

Money and influence will not save them because you will have ensured the destruction of the very systems giving money and influence any meaning. You have failed to prioritize your children’s most basic needs over your own profit and comfort by knowingly purchasing your prosperity with their future. Continuing on this path guarantees them a worse life than the one you have enjoyed.

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicates that now may be the eleventh hour for our climate. It’s clear we don’t have the luxury of our usual three-steps-forward, two-steps-back approach to solving large problems. Profound action must be taken immediately.

If you feel any gratitude whatsoever toward the generations before you, and if you in any way value your children’s future, it should be clear what needs to happen:

If you are a world leader, make climate change legislation your number one priority. Tax carbon. Close your public lands to fossil fuel extraction. Block any new infrastructure for the extraction, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels. Refuse to trade with countries doing anything less.

If you are the head of an energy company, stop extracting fossil fuels from the ground and stop selling them. Use your vast wealth to develop and promote renewable sources of energy. Refuse to do business with companies doing anything less.

If you are a member of the news media, start covering climate change like the crisis that it is. Make it front-page news every day. Keep it on everyone’s radar.

If you are extremely wealthy, stop investing in companies that extract and burn fossil fuels; fund initiatives that cut greenhouse gas emissions and foster carbon-free energy sources; and lobby lawmakers to pass legislation taxing carbon. Insist that your peers do the same and hold them accountable if they don’t.

As the powerful and wealthy, your influence can make an enormous difference—probably the difference—in halting climate change. Act now. Stop worrying about what’s possible and start doing what’s necessary. Earn your children’s respect. Redeem humanity.

Supporters of the Open Letter »

1 Parents who are head of a top-ten country ranked by greenhouse gas emissions. [source]
Note: This group is actually 11 people; it was a copy editing error in the ad layouts that we’re preserving here for consistency.

2 Parents who are head of a top-ten oil/gas company ranked by revenue, excluding state-owned companies. [source]

3 Parents who are editor-in-chief of a top-ten news outlet ranked by audience size. [sources: one two three]

4 Parents who are one of the top-ten wealthiest people in the world. [source]