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.