No, our Blog has not spawned offspring.
Over the past week, my son (younger, good looking guy standing next to me) announced to his parents that he was leaning heavily towards declaring as an “Environmental Analysis” major at Pomona College.
This news triggers the emotions one would expect as a parent – pride that he’s expressing more than a passing interest in my career path (even knowing that declared majors and career paths change, sometimes frequently), or melancholy in recognizing that your children really can replace you.
In my case, perhaps the strongest reaction is envy. Hearing David describe the range of courses he’ll be able to take as an upper classman, the options for study abroad to get a close-up look at how environmental policy impacts communities and sensitive resources, and even some of the internships he is exploring, makes me more jealous than ever of the opportunities awaiting my son.
My latter Baby Boom generation was the first following the roots of the environmental movement. We grew up watching the iconic “Indian Tear” commercial on TV. Laws passed in the late 1960s and early 1970s had very visible and tangible benefits, even for those of us growing up in Brooklyn, New York, who viewed a car ride to Staten Island as a trip to “the country.” It was pretty obvious to a kid who endured countless summer smog days and got used to trash clogging up street corner sewers when things improved as a result of collective action.
For my future “EA” major, the challenges are greater and far more complex. Benefits from decisions we make today may not be enjoyed for years to come. Perhaps as a result, the political will to address even the most threatening environmental problems has virtually disappeared. The debate over what constitutes “sound science” and how to interpret what would otherwise appear to be scientific consensus, clouds every policy discussion.
In the face of this disheartening status quo, his enthusiastic reactions to class readings and lectures are heartwarming. “Dad, did you realize that the melting of the polar caps tends to accelerate warming trends? I have got to send you this article.” I almost didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was indeed aware of that reality, but his parents’ generation hasn’t arrived at even one policy solution to convince the general population that addressing this worsening problem is worth the time or money.
Declaring a major (even if it doesn’t stick) is a memorable moment in a college career. You announce to your friends and family that “this is what I care about – this is what I’d like to do.” For David, his decision was made for all the right reasons. Here’s hoping he contributes to the solutions his Dad can only dream about.