I’m Speaking Up for My Kids — a #ClimateStory by Amazon Employee Elizabeth Whitmire

Elizabeth Whitmire, a Senior Technical Editor at Amazon, shares her #ClimateStory:

My personal motivation for getting involved in this effort is my kids, who are seven and four. My seven year old likes to tinker, which for most of his life has meant taking everything apart and sometimes rebuilding it, but differently. People meet him and within five minutes say things like, “he’s a little engineer” or “he’ll be a great innovator!”

He also knows about the climate crisis. We talk about the importance of stewardship and watch video clips of sixteen-year-old student climate activist @GretaThunberg speaking to world leaders about the climate emergency. We talk about the environmental and human impacts of our choices, about what science and our faith tradition teach us about interconnection: that the choices we make at home affect people on the other side of the world, and that what happens to other people is also, in a sense, happening to us.

A few weeks ago, as I talked to him about being here today, and why I think this is important, he asked me: “Are you going to stop climate change?”

Before getting involved in this campaign, my answer to that question would be have been a dodge: either “it’s complicated,” or “we’re doing everything we can to help. we recycle, we’re working to reduce waste, we’re figuring out new ways to do things that are less harmful to the environment.” And “one day, you may invent something that makes a big difference.”

But as I’ve gotten more involved and learned more, I understand that despite all the effort that many people are making, individual efforts are not enough to solve this crisis at the scale it demands and in time to ward off the worst of the ecological breakdown that is on the horizon. I’ve realized that “one day” is already here.

I just couldn’t look my son in the eyes, knowing what I know about the urgency of the climate crisis today, and continue to say: “We’re already doing enough. This is good enough.” If you have kids, think about saying that to your child. They are going to be living in the future that we create today.

So I said “Yes. We are going to stop climate change.” Because there really is no other choice for me right now. And even though climate change is already in motion, we can stop making it catastrophically worse.

I work at one of the most successful and innovative companies on this planet. I work at a company that has disrupted industry after industry, all over the world. If we work together and prioritize this issue, Amazon can disrupt the business-as-usual thinking that has put us on a fast track to a climate emergency. National and international policy makers not going to do it in time; in fact, many of them are running full speed in the other direction! We have to own this problem ourselves, in all its complexity, in its huge scope, and in its technical and organizational challenges. If we could be disrupters in all these other industries, we have to figure this out, because this is THE most important thing to figure out today.

As an Amazon employee and most importantly as a mother, I’m here today asking Amazon and Jeff Bezos to do more on climate, to be real leaders in moving us all away from climate disaster and toward a sustainable future for my children and their generation.