Letter: Greta Thunberg or Veruca Salt?

As I stood on my balcony watching my panoramic ocean view expand as the magnificent Torrey pine at Cardiff School — the last remaining Torrey pine planted more than 70 years ago by students— was reduced to sawdust and splinters, whatever empathy I may have felt for parents bemoaning the school’s construction delays faded.

Why? Because their myopic self-interest fails to recognize that the Cardiff School District’s defiance of conservation obligations and environmental laws directly impacts their children’s futures — not just for the 2-3 years these children might attend Cardiff School, which they will scarcely remember, but for their entire lives. These parents may take their kids to climate marches and encourage them to chant “save the planet,” but it’s all empty talk when they close their eyes to a district that admits “significant environmental impact,” then claims exemptions from having to do anything about it. They accuse a Superior Court judge of bias for finding the district violated the California Environmental Quality Act while declaring undying devotion to school officials who refuse to even acknowledge, much less correct, that violation. They mock community members who decry the removal of 40 mature trees to make way for buildings and parking lots — trees that were key defenses against climate change, sequestering over 3 tons of carbon dioxide every year, to be replaced with dwarf trees with a tiny fraction of the sequestration capacity.

Scientists warn that the planet is facing a climate crisis. Today’s children will bear the brunt of that crisis — forced to deal with severe droughts, extreme weather events, and global conflicts arising from rising sea levels and food and water shortages. Attention to environmental issues, large and small, should be everyone’s priority now, yet Cardiff parents live in their bubbles, more worried about their child attending a shiny new school than the fact that the same school has, with impunity, inflicted environmental damage that will endure long into the future.

Those familiar with Willie Wonka may remember Veruca Salt, the spoiled, rich brat whose signature line was “I WANT IT NOW!” Parents — consider your child’s entire future, not just the next year or two. The world doesn’t need any more Veruca Salts. It needs more Greta Thunbergs with environmental consciousness to look beyond the now and into the future.

Eleanor Musick
June 20, 2020

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