Sorry, Grandchildren, But Your Future Has Been Forfeited

The love of money is so compelling that those who suffer from this malady are willing to risk the lives and wellbeing of their own grandchildren for the sake of profit today. And, minor factor, everyone else in the future world.

How much is the future worth? It’s rather hard to place a dollar value on the future because we are talking about life itself. If we have no future, that may mean we have no life. At the least, it means that the value of the life we live will be a fraction of what it is now, however that value is measured. That’s already true in China, where thousands of early deaths are attributed to horrible air pollution. And that’s not the only place, by far.

The love of money is so compelling that those
who suffer from this malady risk their
own grandchildren for the sake of profit today.

There are always people who have seen too many Galactica episodes, and believe that we have options about where we will live. If we ruin this planet, just move to another. Those people need to understand something: no other planet in the solar system is habitable, not to mention that there are seven billion of us. We have to live here. Oh, they say, other stars have planets. Just go there. Take a lesson from Voyager I. The 1977 spaceship (carrying computer power vastly inferior to the smartphones in our pockets) just escaped the influence of our sun and is now sailing on for eternity in interstellar space. It will reach the vicinity of the next star in 40,000 years. Sorry, folks, we’re “lost out here in the stars”, as the 1949 song by Kurt Weill tells us. Too bad we have caused irreparable damage to our only home.

Fortunately, those of us in our latter years are unlikely to suffer from the worst effects of a badly compromised future. Isn’t it comforting to know that it is our children and grandchildren who will discover that the quality of their lives has become drastically compromised by the bad choices we have made? Particularly by those whose sole interest is profit.

Perhaps you don’t agree, but that hardly matters, because what matters in the US, and much of the rest of the world, is money. Nothing else. Why else would industry be contemplating the purchase of the right to pollute? Air that supports life seems to have little to do with it.

Carbon trading is the purchase
of the right to commit evil.

Carbon trading is the purchase of the right to commit evil. The fact is, the responsibility for the healthful maintenance of our life support system is one we all share, you and I as well as Shell Oil and every polluting utility in the world. None of us is doing remotely enough to help our little blue planet to endure what ten billion of us will inflict on her, but the industrial-strength polluters fail on an industrial scale.

It is amazing at this late date that there remain any climate change deniers. Evidence piles up around our ankles every day. We see horrible pictures of ugly air, air that billions of people have no choice but to breathe. Have you seen the surfer shots from inside the pipeline, with waves curling above full of nasty trash? Have you seen the pictures of coral bleached white from rising water temperature? Do you remember when bright orange coral was so abundant you could actually buy pieces to take home from your Florida vacation? Have you read about how so much rice we eat is poisoned with arsenic from pesticides used on cotton in the same fields, decades ago? Have you seen the pictures of glaciers retreating several hundred feet every year, which is happening to every glacier in the world? The stone-bald mountains that used to wear white hats? The places being eaten up by the encroaching sea?

The truly tragic thing is that the time to wake up has long past. It is far too late to avert the radical consequences of our environmental crimes. We could only help by taking radical steps right now—at this instant, which of course is physically impossible—to return our environmental destruction to a level nature could eventually repair. There is no chance of that happening.

The truly tragic thing is that
the time to wake up has long past.

When there are powerful people in control whose sole motives are money and power, there is virtually no chance of anything significant happening.

I’m so sorry, grandchildren. We were fools. I’m so sorry.

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