Present Generation is the Future Destiny

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Pandemic was successfully more sweeping the disparity of future unstable. Just like what we have already experienced today, climate change and environmental degradation were happening. We had seen weather patterns change, and streams dry up. We had seen waste being disposed of rivers. The low-quality air downtown would gross us out. We knew something needed to be done. However, I did not quite think about it, because that was fundamentally someone else’s job.

What I see now is a wave of destruction happening in my time that will be nearly impossible to recover from. That is why I feel a sense of duty to proclaim these truths:

We are exhausting our natural resources. We are stuffing our rivers with plastic waste. We are causing an increasing number of species to go extinct. We are adding harmful chemicals to the water and the air we live on. In some countries, air quality can get so bad. People have to walk with gas masks. In this pursuit of economic interests, we have wrecked our pristine nature.

We thought that nature is too strong to be controlled, too big to be affected by our harmful actions. However, here it is, jaded and sick. According to the Global Risks Report, 2018 by the World Economic Forum states that two of the 13 global trends, including environmental degradation and climate change issues. We are experiencing everything that’s egregious in record numbers. We have witnessed the most massive floods, the severest droughts, the hottest summers.

There is unequivocal scientific evidence of climate change. Global temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating, oceans are acidifying, sea levels are rising, extreme weather events are increasing in intensity. The prognosis is bad: The devastating weather patterns will continue, the Arctic will become ice-free, coastal cities will drown in sea water. People will continue dying from heatstroke. Floods will continue rampaging our lives and property. There will be smart cities with free wifi but there will be no water to drink. There wil be no food to eat. The end will come. These are morbid thoughts but aren’t we actually headed there? World hunger has risen in the last three years due to climate change. The world is already facing a water crisis.

This should hit us in our faces. We need to do something. Now after reading this we might start to imagine a dystopian future where there will be but no water, no food and ultimately no life. These, surely, are gleam possibilities. But we are intelligent animals. We can prevent this from happening. But this will take a radical change. It will simply be impossible to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation without involving everyone. No government, organization or group of people will be able to do this alone. The environment is our mutual interest. Cutting carbon emissions, switching to renewable energy, pressing for environment protection policies and adopting plant-based diet is a good place to start. I believe that today generation becomes future destiny. We need strategic generation to tackle the issues.

The Role of You(th)

“Let’s call this what it is: climate security, a life-and-death issue for our generation…Our economy is on the line, our future is on the line, lives are on the line.” So said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary who is closer to our age than that of the current president. As young people, we especially must acknowledge the prescience of Buttigieg’s message: in just a few years, our world will be unrecognizable due to the changing climate.

Here’s the problem: as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels grow, humans are facing rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, more severe natural disasters, greater precipitation, and desertification. These phenomena not only threaten ecosystems, but also create famine and flooding, strangle supplies of natural resources, vaporize jobs and aggravate conflict over scarce resources.

Elected officials have repeatedly failed to address the climate crisis, with each attempt devolving into endless politicking. Partisanship, industrial interests, the perception of climate change as an “abstract” issue, and a failure to build consensus are all culprits. Recently, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a millenial even closer to our age than Buttigieg, introduced the Green New Deal (GND), a wide-reaching proposal to address climate change. Its goals include creating zero-emissions energy, agriculture, and transportation systems; ending wage stagnation; generating more high-wage jobs, protecting labor rights, and ensuring retirement security.

We, as young people, have an important role to play in GND advocacy because our generation will be most severely affected by the changing climate. As the actions of young politicians like Buttigieg and Ocasio-Cortez illustrate, our perspective is also fresh; because we played no part in the years of inaction and industry lobbying that have exacerbated the climate crisis, we are less tarnished by cynicism.

The Rights of Future Generation

We owe the future. People who will be alive in the future can make ethical claims on us. We have duties to them. They have rights. Some people seem to have a hard time even understanding the concept of the rights of future generations. The idea that people who do not yet exist have the right to assert their needs in our lives is one that seems to be hard to fully grasp.

Think of this example: If someone sets a bomb to go off in a public square a year from now, is he committing a crime? Should he be stopped? Almost everyone would say yes. Should he be tried before a court of law and prevented from doing further harm? Most of us would agree that he should. What about ten years? What about 100? When does our obligation to avoid serious, predictable harm to others end?

Now, here’s the tricky part: climate emissions (and huge array of other unsustainable practices) are the bomb, and your grandkids and great-grandkids are the victims. By transgressing planetary boundaries, we are seriously (and in human timescales, permanently) undermining the ability of the planet to provide the kind of climate stability, natural bounty and renewable resources that future generations will need to maintain their own societies. If we continue business as usual, we are in fact dooming millions of them to extreme suffering and early death. Life on a hotter, dangerous and destabilized planet is not something we would wish to have inflicted on ourselves.

We don’t really have the ethical right to inflict it on our descendants. There is no legitimate basis for thinking that we have the right to use the planet up, that the property rights of current generations trump the human rights of the next 100 generations to come. Put it another way: ethically, with riches come responsibilities. Much of the wealth around us was handed down as a legacy by our ancestors, and we hold the planet itself in trust, as stewards.

As long as we don’t use more of the planet’s bounty than can be sustainably provided in perpetuity, we have the ethical right to enjoy the best lives we can create. But the minute we stray into unsustainable levels of consumption, we’re not in fact spending our own riches, but those of future people, by setting in motion disasters that will greatly diminish their possibilities. Unfortunately, nearly everyone living a middle class or wealthier lifestyle now enriches their lives at the cost of future generations. As Paul Hawken says, “We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present, and call it G.D.P.”

Now, obviously, most of us did not intend to find ourselves in this situation, and so for a couple decades we had a legitimate argument that we needed a reasonable amount of time to change our ecological impact. It’s become clear that many of our leaders’ definition of a reasonable amount of time, though, is for things to change sometime after they’re dead.

This is what I mean when I say that we have a politics of “predatory delay.” Many wealthy people understand that their profits are extracted through destructively unsustainable practices, and they’ve known it for decades. By and large, they no longer deny the need for change, they simply argue for delay, on the basis that to change too quickly would be unfair to them.

This allows them to been seen as responsible and caring. They want change, they claim; they just think we need prudent, appropriately paced change, mindful of economic trade-offs and judiciously studied — by which they mean cosmetic change for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, they fight like hell to delay change of any real magnitude, attacking not only the prospects of our kids and kin in the future, but increasingly of our society in the present. Their delay has real, serious human consequences, across generations. They’re taking, not creating; the harm they cause is measurable.

Tim O’Reilly, in 2012, turned this nice phrase: “Policy should protect the future from the past, not the past from the future.” Yet in every country on Earth, policies made at the top are still overwhelmingly designed not to meet our planetary crisis at the scale and speed it demands, but to protect the institutions, companies and systems causing that crisis from disruptive change. This is true at every scale, from large incumbent industries unfairly undermining newer, more sustainable competitors to wealthy NIMBY property owners blocking new housing in cities around the world so that they can benefit from the housing crisis by pushing real estate prices as high as possible before they sell.

From that substantial, we already know that today generation becomes key to secure the future. In another words, today generation becomes the future destiny.




The Climate Reality Leader and Author of 20 Books

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Moh Wahyu Syafi'ul Mubarok

Moh Wahyu Syafi'ul Mubarok

The Climate Reality Leader and Author of 20 Books

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