These holidays brought me in touch with young people who have made the difficult decision not to bring children into a world teetering on the brink of ecological collapse.

The dramatically warming waters of the Gulf of Maine are just one sign of the connection between escalating fossil fuel consumption and the destruction of our natural environment. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer, File

My sister mourns the lack of grandchildren from her own two daughters, now 38 and 40. And, like many of us, I visited grandchildren whose uncertain future on this planet is deeply troublesome.

But my love for all earthly life makes me aware that I care about the fate of more than my grandchildren. We are one planet, a brilliant, radiant globe in the dark expanse of our universe, unique – as far as we know – in its ability to sustain life. I believe a holy being I call God created this experiment and has tenderly kept watch over it and within it for the past 13.8 billion years. I know of no religion that does not task the human species with stewardship and peaceful co-existence with all the rest of creation. Such a charge is very explicit in the Judeo-Christian canon. But as indigenous author Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley notes: “We must realize that the industrial age has written a check to our world that has insufficient funds.”

I never thought of myself as a bad-check writer, but I see my complicity in this.

I am part of the generation that has created the continent of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean, that has polluted the water of cities like Flint, Michigan, and continues to pump millions of particles into the atmosphere with the consequences of rising temperatures and colossal climate change worldwide. Living in Maine, in close connection to nature, we understand the connection between our flagrant fossil fuel consumption and the destruction of our natural environment, from the dramatically warming waters of our Gulf of Maine to the warm winters and dry summers that could have our pine forests bursting into flame like the American Southwest.

I am part of the generation that holds up to 70% of the disposable income in our country and as I think of my legacy and what I will pass on to the next generation, I want that wealth and what I have left of energy and vision for system change to go to reversing the damage we have done, toward putting funds behind that check. I know I don’t have a lot of time left – I certainly am in my “third act” – and we are told daily that there is not a lot of time left for us to shift the course of destruction.

Woodley goes on to write: “Only a worldview encompassing the interconnectedness between Creator, human beings and the rest of creation will sustain abundant life.”

That’s the kind of worldview I want to have. There are many organizations working tirelessly toward divestment in fossil fuels and conversion to green energy. It is in these organizations that I find hope. I want to be willing to work to the very end and not give up. Small community groups like and Third Act are joining Sierra Club and Audubon and Nature Conservancy in making their voices heard. I have joined Third Act Maine. I urge you to join one of these organizations as well.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

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