San Jose, CA
2022, Senior, Creative Writing
An emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees for Christmas SantaTM Foundation was called.
“Santa, as the Board of Trustees for Christmas SantaTM, we must make sure that as CEO, you are making the correct and timely decisions for our Foundation’s direction and future endeavors. There are currently several issues of concern that we must address in response to rising climate change.
For the past few centuries, the Foundation has been paying for your residence in the North Pole. However, this has become increasingly challenging. The 2020 Climate Insights Synthesis Report predicts that the world is on course to warm up by five percent in the next 75 years, which can result in the sinking of your entire estate. As such, we have started looking into other potential residence options, particularly in mountainous regions, which have less risk of being flooded by the melting ice. One place that stands out as a potential opportunity for relocation is Mount Everest, a place that has heavy snow all year around, and happens to be the highest mountain on the planet.
In addition, we must reconsider travel options and re-evaluate the cost of reindeer transportation that we have endorsed for the past few centuries. Unfortunately, the population of reindeers has been decreasing due to dwindling food supplies. As temperatures continues to rise in the north, precipitation falls in the form of rain instead of snow and freezes into ice on the ground, thus preventing the reindeer from reaching their food, which is locked away by the ice. Reindeer in the north have been suffering from significant population loss. The 2018 Arctic Report Card has raised the alarm of reindeer population decrease by more than half in the past 20 years and has projected continuing exponential decrease for years to come. More than five herds of reindeer in the Alaska-Canada region have lost so much of their population to global warming that they will face eminent extinction in the next few years. The dwindling reindeer population has resulted in challenges in reindeer hires and significant cost increases. Alternative forms of transportation must be considered, such as electric carriages, which are cheaper and environmentally friendly.
Perhaps most importantly, we must ask you, Santa, to refrain from giving out coal to naughty children. Coal has ravaged our habitats and has been a significant cause for the rising temperatures. In addition to the greenhouse pollution resulting from coal consumption, burning coal emits toxic carcinogenic substances, which severely hinders human health across the globe. In 2020 alone, more than 3.1 million tons of soot and SO2 were released into the air by the U.S. coal industry, playing a significant role in cardiovascular problems and premature deaths across the country. Coal landed in naughty hands can further aggravate the worsening situation. As such, your gift package for naughty kids must be re-evaluated.”
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This sketch of Santa’s struggles with the environment merely reflects a small facet of the alarming situation we are facing today. While Santa and the Christmas SantaTM Foundation are fighting hard to address the significant challenges from looming environmental crises, humanity as a whole is at risk of a fate far worse than Santa relocating to Mount Everest. Polar ice caps have, since the early Pleistocene epoch, served as Earth’s means of balancing heat in other parts of the planet. However, the thickest and oldest polar ice caps have seen a mass decrease of 95 percent. Physics World predicts that by 2040, the Arctic will become ice-free in late summer, and become completely ice-free throughout the summer months by 2060. This poses significant risks to humanity, leading to a rise in global sea levels by 20 feet. Many islands have already sunken beneath the surface, swallowed by the heaving ocean in its inevitable rise upwards.
When it comes to climate change, everyone is affected, even a legend like Santa. We must take actions to address the issue head-on. There are inevitable, but healthy, sacrifices we can make in our daily lives to fight climate change. No effort is too small, each individual can make a difference: ride bikes to school or work, switch to bioplastics, install solar panels for green power, compost organic garbage, grow a small vegetable garden, buy fewer clothes… We can no longer afford the luxury of sitting back and hoping that others will do the work for us. It is the time to act now—not tomorrow, not in a week, but today. We must work together to do what we can to bring this planet to a greener future.
Santa’s job and the century-long tradition are at risk. Will Santa be forced to move to Mount Everest? Or maybe consider riding a Tesla? Or stop giving coal to naughty kids? The answers are in our hands.
I have been working on environmental research projects for four years, and I have been a science fair coach for younger kids in the neighborhood schools. In my coaching experience, I have found that for the general population, especially for younger kids, messages about environmental challenges with only depressing and horrific facts and predictions can often result in a sense of helplessness in the face of disasters. On the other hand, humor can be more powerful than serious preaching: galvanize people into action with a hint of laughter and a sense of hope for the future. That is exactly what I wanted to achieve by developing a funny narrative about Santa’s future residence and business plans, while at the same time highlighting the current dangers and upcoming disasters we are faced with. My intention is to create a sense of urgency and nurture a sense of hopefulness—that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if we all take action today.