WHAT WORLD ARE WE LEAVING OUR CHILDREN?
By Vincent Lyn
Less Fish in the Oceans
Fewer Old Forests
Fewer Species of Animals and Plants
A Poorer Natural World
A Dangerously Warming World
Is This Progress?
The earth is a living, breathing organism, and when we abuse Mother Nature, we will suffocate in our own waste. Reversing regulations has allowed us to damage our ecosystems and led to a mass extinction of hundreds of species of animals. Are we seeing the results of this? Are the increasing intensity of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, food contamination, etc., just her getting sick?
What kind of world are we leaving our children and their children? Will it be one brought about because of greed, hate, selfishness, or will it be one filled with kindness, compassion, empathy for Mother Nature and all of humanity? The only way this is accomplished is if we all stick together and do what is best for Mother Earth and, therefore, ourselves.
I and my colleagues know that if action is not taken immediately to stop and reverse current climate trends, our grandchildren will live in a world where the average global temperature could be several degrees higher than when I was a child. The earth will no longer be sustainable not to mention livable.
“This brings to mind what Nikita Khrushchev said when reflecting on the impact of a potential nuclear war: “the living will envy the dead”. We are close to reaching the tipping point beyond which man-made climate change risks denying our grandchildren and their generation the right to a healthy and sustainable planet. This is not science fiction. But it is not too late to take action.” — Former U.N. Secretary General James Kofi Annan
Take a moment. Close your eyes. Think about the people in your life — your family and loved ones, your classmates, your neighbors, your friends and co-workers. Now think about some of the other people you have known over the years, from the lost loves, deceased relatives, trusted mentors, and complete strangers who affected the course of your life.
Guess what? They all have something in common.
Whether they’re young or old, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, from small towns or big cities, or from the different ethnicities, beliefs, genders, and orientations that make up our diverse society, they all want a better future for their children. So do you. So do I. So did our parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. In fact, we all share that fundamental, human desire: We want our children and the generation that comes after us to be happy, healthy, safe, and secure. That instinct is baked inside of us. It’s part of what makes us human.
But for our children to truly thrive, we must stop damaging the planet we live on, the world that nourishes us, protects us, and sustains our lives. We need to protect the environmental systems we all depend on — to provide clean air, clean water, safe food, a safe climate, and so many other essentials. We need to protect and sustain the planet, because it protects and sustains us.
The alternative is simply unthinkable. If we end up critically damaging Earth’s environment, we will leave future generations with a radically altered climate, broken ecosystems, and vanishing natural resources. It would be a dangerous world, difficult to thrive in. Environmental disasters would become the norm, dominating the human condition for generations — all because we didn’t act wisely today.
And no one wants this. No matter one’s political leanings, income level, ethnicity, or upbringing, no one wants to leave a wrecked planet — a world that is depleted, damaged, and dangerous — to their children. None of us want to be the first people in history to knowingly imperil their children’s future. But that’s exactly what we’re doing, even if we’re not willing to admit it. However, we know, deep in our gut, that we need to do better. We know that we need to act, quickly and boldly, and turn things around. But, instead, we delay. We indulge in self-denial. And, day by day, year by year, we let things get worse. Unfortunately, after decades of these delays, we can’t wait any more. There is no time left to waste.
The Earth’s environment is already starting to experience irreversible damage — to its climate, to its biological diversity and ecosystems, and to its natural resources — and much more is coming soon if we don’t quickly change our ways. In fact, the long-term fate of Earth’s key environmental systems will be largely determined by the actions we take, or don’t take, during the coming years. In other words, it will happen on our watch. Whether we like it or not, we now stand at a critical juncture in human history. We didn’t choose this, of course. We didn’t sign up for it. We didn’t ask to be here. But we have inherited one of the most important moments in all of human history.
So, what are we going to do with it?
What we do will decide the future of our planet, our civilization, and our species for millennia to come. What we do will determine whether we profoundly change Earth’s climate for thousands of years, or not. What we do will determine how much sea levels will rise, and which cities will vanish under rising tides. What we do will determine which species, and which ecosystems, will survive into the future. What we do will determine whether we have sufficient natural resources — including the crops and soils, forests and fisheries, clean air and freshwater we all depend on. What we do will ultimately determine who thrives, and who dies, on a rapidly changing planet.
Perhaps no other moment in human existence has been as crucial as this one. The destiny of our planet and our civilization now rests on our shoulders.
So, like it or not, it’s up to us.
Building this better world and this better future — one that is healthy, safe, and secure for the long term — is going to be the biggest opportunity any generation has ever seen. There’s really nothing stopping us. So why aren’t we? What’s keeping us from building a better future right now? It’s simple: We haven’t decided to. We have yet to make our choice as a society, as a civilization, as a people. We haven’t stepped up to the plate. But now it’s time. Basically, it comes down to this: We have to choose between two versions of ourselves.
Are we going to be the people we have been? Selfish. Greedy. Fearful. Divided. More concerned with trivial issues than solving real problems. Or are we going to be the people we could be? People like our parents and grandparents — people who were courageous and selfless, who defeated fascism, raced to the moon, cured diseases, fought for moral causes, and gave us a better world? Are we going to accept the world as it is? A world divided by fear and hate. A world that ignores science and truth when it’s uncomfortable. A world that doesn’t care about the future. A world more concerned with getting rich quick, from instant fame or easy bitcoins, rather than meaningful work that contributes to society.
Or are we going to build the world that should be? A world where we set aside our greed and petty differences and are kind, generous, and just with each other. A world where we listen to science, and act on what we know to be true. A world where we are guided by ethics and a strong moral compass. A world where we leave our children a better future, just as our ancestors did for us. A world that we can be proud of.
The choice we make will not only define who we are, in this crucial moment in history, but it will also define the fate of our planet and the countless generations that come after us. Fortunately, that choice is still up to us. It hasn’t yet slipped from our fingers. We still have a little — not much! — time left to make it, if we don’t squander it completely by delaying too long.
So, what’s it going to be? Will we be a noble people, or a shallow one? Will we build a good future, or a bad one? That’s up to you. And me. And all of us. We will need to look deep within ourselves, and at the society and systems around us, and make our choice. I just hope that all we make a thoughtful choice. I hope it is guided equally by our heart and our head. I hope we have a clear moral vision of the world we want to build, and develop the knowledge and wisdom we need to build it in a safe, secure, and sustainable way.
No matter what, the future will be determined by the choices we make?
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts