Editor's note: This story was sent to us by eighth grader Kian Tanner, who chases trout in Montana's Flathead Valley.
You probably live in a city, or in the suburb of a city. I don’t. I live in Montana. Geese honk as they fly overhead. Our dogs bark at the deer. We have bears in our yard. Every morning I walk outside and I look to the east, past our creek, where huge mountains rise up from the valley floor. I look to the west, where the sun shines on the valley’s farms and ranches. And I know that it’s all at risk. Why? Because adults can’t seem to take climate change seriously.
A few months ago, my dad and I left my mom and our two golden retrievers at home and drove down to the Henry’s Fork in Last Chance, Idaho. We stopped in Helena, Montana, where we picked up an Adipose drift boat. We met up with Jeremy Roberts, who was there to film my dad and me, along with Hilary Hutcheson and her two daughters, as we fished the river. The last day of filming was there in the blink of an eye and I was excited to float the Box Canyon one more time. We were almost finished with the float when a huge fish took my dry fly. I fought with her and she jumped five times before I was able to bring her to the boat. It was one of the biggest fish I have ever caught, a 21 inch rainbow trout. Right after we released her, it started to pour rain and our trip was finished.
Every time I am out on the water, I leave with great memories and I feel like I have been blessed. I don’t want to lose the amazing experiences I receive when I’m in nature. In July of this year I flew to Florida. While I was there I saw algae, but it wasn’t the kind I had seen before. I didn’t think that it looked like it was supposed to be there. I have heard it’s part of an algae bloom that is linked to pollution and warmer ocean temperatures, and that it is destroying aquatic life.
Even here in Montana I see problems affecting our landscapes, including algae blooms in ponds and rivers. We also depend on Spring runoff to sustain us through the summer, since we get very little rain during that time of year. It is sad, but we are having earlier run-offs. Sometimes in the summer our trout are stressed by the warm water. Montana has to close down rivers, making it harder to find good fishing spots.
Climate change is by far the most dangerous threat we face, yet for some reason adults seem to think it’s fine to leave my generation, and future generations, a world that is in trouble. You adults need to get your act together to fix this. It makes me very angry and, to be honest, very disappointed with your generation that you don’t take responsibility for your actions. Is it really that hard to cut down on CO2 emissions, and to use less energy from fossil fuels, and to move towards clean energy like solar panels and windmills?
I have been in two fishing films over the past five years. I have always loved the outdoors and I have made new friends each time I have been in a film. I have enjoyed fishing with incredible anglers like Craig Mathews and Yvon Chouinard, who helped me see all the bugs hatching from the river. It makes me so angry to think that the places I love to fish are in danger, and to think that we could do more to protect them, but that you adults aren’t helping.
The East Coast has been hit hard by hurricanes, which are more destructive because of climate change. Living out in Montana, I have never experienced a hurricane but I am sure that many of you have, and you have seen the effects climate change can create. Please don’t let climate change be passed on to my generation. Help to slow it, or bring it to a halt, so that we can save our planet. My generation should be able to spend time outdoors hunting and fishing without having to fear the future. The outdoors is something that should be protected and if you let climate change destroy it then you are letting my generation down.
My favorite places do not have smoke coming out of factory chimneys. They are mountains, rivers, streams, lakes, forests and oceans. Do you really want to destroy them and, in the end, destroy the whole planet? Please protect our country by getting rid of fossil fuels.
One of the greatest experiences in my young life was a few years back, when my dad and I headed down to the Missouri River. I had never fished there before, and I had never seen a river that was so big or so beautiful. We got our waders on and prepared to go out and fish. My dad’s friend Tim Linehan took us out on the river in his drift boat and helped me catch my first trout on the Missouri River. It was amazing.
Now I have a question for you. Do you really want to stay on this path, hurting the world and leaving future generations to deal with the climate change that you have created? Shouldn’t my generation be able to experience the same things as my parents' generation? The outdoors is something that should be protected. If you let climate change destroy it, then you are letting your children down.
Please protect our rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Protect the outdoors. Stop injecting CO2 into the atmosphere and stop over-heating our planet.
Rich Reid replied on Permalink
Sue Penner replied on Permalink
Nice work Kian!
This very topic came up when I was talking to my students about winter sports in 6th grade PE. I was explaining that our local ski hill opened much earlier in the season and received a higher average snowfall, when I was their age. We talked about global warming and like you my students were very concerned. I hope it's not too late and that more adults will step up!
Al replied on Permalink
Kian....there are indeed adults in the room they are just ignored by most fear mongers....do some research on Judith Curry and learn about "climate change"....truth is the United States is meeting all of our supposed assigned carbon emission targets under the ridiculous theoretical and feel good global document called the Paris Climate Accord....the adults recognize that we have a responsibility to provide clean air and water for our citizens and future generations...the infantile temper tantrums of the "children" in the room are ideological zealots looking to use this issue as a weapon to scare people into ceding control of their lives and livelihoods to advance a political agenda and secure their political power....
Jerry Kustich replied on Permalink
You are right, Kian. Us older folks have let the younger generations down by showing little to no regard to your futures...especially regarding the environment. It has always been my goal to leave a better planet than what I grew up in when I used to see dead fish floating by me on the Niagara River in the 1950s. I fear we have failed you. That said, it is an article like yours that may wake folks up. Hold on to your feeling about fishing and the vision for the world you want to live in. Continue to write about what you love...you have a great talent.
rita replied on Permalink
The Algae blooms were in Montana 53 years ago when I lived in Bozeman.
And please do not be sucked into the ignorant path.
Shanna Burchwell replied on Permalink
How very proud I am of not only your word choice and verbs here, but your topic, voice, and passion. You are an excellent writer and I can't wait to see what you do as you grow and become and adult in this world.
Lori Brower Osborne replied on Permalink
Great article! Now we need congress to listen!!!
Charles Cantella replied on Permalink
I guess I fall into the adult category. As such, I’ve read a lot of stuff and seen a lot of things. I can tell you that your article is pretty spot on.
For too long our administration (not just the current one) have kicked problems down the road to the next generation. It does my heart good to read that young people such as yourself see and understand what’s going on.
I don’t know if you’re a religious person, but I’m gonna say a prayer that you and your generation can do a better job at protecting our environment than we have. God bless
Lucas Tunkel replied on Permalink
Nicely said Kian
Bird replied on Permalink
Great job getting you passion for a clean earth across. I pray your generation can continue advocating for change and it makes a difference.Your examples in your article are spot on and drive your points home.
One day maybe you will be a leader of that change!
Sarah replied on Permalink
Very well said Kian. My heart breaks to think that we might not be able to fix this. However, we must keep on trying. Your generation and your children's generation depend on it.
Tim Linehan replied on Permalink
Great piece, Kian! You’re so right. I’m proud of you for being so insightful at this point in your life. Keep up the good work and I’ll try to as well.
Cathye Williams replied on Permalink
Thanks for writing this, and for caring. We need action now and I hope pressure from youth like you will bring it about. Please read about Energy innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and ask our leaders to pass it. It won't solve it all but it is a very necessary first REAL step.
Kirk replied on Permalink
I understand you’re upset with those of us using fossil fuels but you don’t seem to be all to worried about it traveling all over the states whether it be in a car or plane to go on your float trips. That’s whats wrong with everyone these days, they want everyone else to “save the planet” but they themselves keep using everything that ruins it!
Skip Alford replied on Permalink
Very nicely done Kian ! I look forward to more cold water adventures from your hand and your heart. Don't ever be discouraged by us old folks who can't seem to face what a mess we have created for you deal with .SHAME ON US!
your friend Skip
clean cold water and tight lines!
Jock Conyngham replied on Permalink
Kian, you did as nice a job refining these thoughts and writing them up well as you did on that 21 inch rainbow! Continue in this work, and I’ll guarantee that you will never be bored. I know your dad is burned out on fishing from boats, but I’d be happy to row for you if Tim is unavailable.
David replied on Permalink
Very true. We have let the next generation down. But this is bigger than climate change. This is the whole mind set of our government and the fact that our generation believe the stuff they were telling us. We didn't question anything. But you have to follow the money. That's how our government makes decisions now.
Karin Hilding replied on Permalink
Thanks for trying to wake up us adults. It is going to take all of us, but I have a feeling it will be the young who will lead us in turning this ship around. Unfortunately, we have left your generation no choice but to help create solutions to the mess that we have created. It shouldn’t be that way for kids. But we humans are amazingly creative and this is helping us find ways to reduce our carbon impacts. I also have hope that all over the world people are learning to slow down and better appreciate the amazing lakes, rivers, mountains.
Vince replied on Permalink
Always begin with your own glance in the mirror young man. I admire your passion, but a Honda Prius won't tow that Adipose. It won't get you anywhere near your first Bonefish in the Bahamas either. If you want change don't call on others, just model action on your own. Climate change is real, but not nearly as real as the United State's passion and greed for fossil fuels AND the huge, huge, huge sums of money associated with that greed. Don't hate. There isn't a climate change advocate on Earth who would turn down a 20 million dollar offer from Shell for the oil on their land. Not a single one. Yes something has to be done because we "adults" screwed it up. But us adults will sadly be long gone before anything substantial will be done most likely (and please leave politics out of climate change talk...climate change requires changing people not parties)..which brings me back to you: whether you like it or not, YOU and your generation are largely going to be stuck with fixing things. So get to work working on change (like we all hopefully are) and stop with the blame. If you really love fly fishing you will.
A Conklin replied on Permalink
As a science educator for over 30 yrs and a devoted environmentalist and fly fisherman for over 60 yrs, its always refreshing to see the enthusiasm generated by youth -especially when they have been provided with the concepts of of true scientific research.
My observation relative to the research is that many ,including most of the commenters on the blog have not paid attention to all of the available data. There are several Nobel laureate's and Earth Scientists that have data that is never seen by most.Take a look at this information.
Neil Gouett replied on Permalink
I feel your pain kid but the truth is we don't know the cause of climate change and we as just another animal on the block, don't know that we have the power to change it. You're young become a climate scientist and come up with the answer!