Grandkids are the last thing on my mind. I’m sure they are for many of us entering the workforce.
Grandkids are what those older folk are thinking about. Grandkids are what Lord Nicolas Stern was thinking about when he gave this TED Talk. And they’re what members of the IPCC were thinking about when they released this report. It’s what Obama was thinking about when he declared the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. These are the people thinking about the future in the sense of what we are going to leave behind.
So if we don’t care about the future after we die, if we’re not invested in the future of our non-existent grandchildren, why do we care? Why have I, about to graduate college, dedicated over 4 years of my life to protecting and advocating for the environment?
It’s because, today, I don’t want the negative fate of the planet to be on my hands. We all want to be immortal, and as far as science has gotten today, the only part of us that remains immortal is our legacy. So what is the state of the planet whose fate is in our hands? So what is the legacy we are leaving behind? According to the IPCC’s most recently release report, as well as other expert understanding, it’s not one that I want to hold myself accountable for.
- increased temperature changes in the climate system are causing intense climate fluctuations
- climate change caused by human activity is negatively affecting the global food production for our increasing population
- sea level rise precipitates a loss of aesthetically and economically valuable beaches
- the budget to minimize global warming will be exhausted in 30 years at the current rate
- the demand for energy is going to rise by 40% in the next to decades
This is what we’ve been handed. We can’t change it, it is what we’ve been willed by those who came before us. But we can start to be better. And since when has anyone ever wanted to turn away an opportunity to do that?
You can’t make a peace treaty with the planet. You can’t negotiate with the laws of physics. You’re in there. You’re stuck. Those are the stakes we’re playing for, and that’s why we have to make this second transformation, the climate transformation, and move to a low-carbon economy.
–Lord Nicolas Stern
The need for a lot of luck looms larger and larger. Personally, I think it’s a slim reed to lean on for the fate of the planet.
–Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University climate scientist
This is the fate of the planet. We can do nothing, and watch it wither before our eyes. Or we could listen to those who have investments in the future, as we one day will. We can prepare ourselves for the day when all we have to leave behind to those and that which we love is what we’ve done, our legacy, and our history.
Why would we ever leave that up to luck?