Do you think the future is your responsibility?
I don’t have children and there are none in my immediate family. Logically, and unemotionally, there is no reason why I should be particularly bothered about what happens to, or on our planet in the future as I probably won’t be around to be affected by it. However, I am bothered.
You can’t change the past but we have done so much as a species to exploit and ravage the natural resources of earth without much attention being given to the long-term effect it might be having or the fact that these resources are ultimately finite.
Even now, when evidence of the detrimental effect we are having is showing itself the will to change or alter our behaviour seems an elusive goal. Those that are elected to run our lives and dictate what happens appear to be compounding the problem with short-sighted attitudes and policies.
I know we have made some progress and I applaud each step. We recycle a lot more than we ever did and we eat more organic food. So, we are reducing the chemicals we add to our planet but the real change must take place at a global level.
Why do we have such a short-term view about everything?
It may well be that there are still streams of coal, gas and oil left under the crust that could give a short term boost to economies but at what ultimate price? They will eventually run out and what alternative do we have ready? When burning and using them for our immediate comfort and gain, what happens to our protective ozone layer that we have no idea of how to fix?
Alternative sustainable energy is in its infancy and, yes, it costs money to develop but can we afford not to?
Our leaders seem focussed entirely inward only paying lip service to the need for alternatives. The continued exploitation may well boost their countries growth and ensure their re-election to power in the short term but do they really care about what might be left in hundreds, thousands, millions of years ahead.
There is a glimmer of hope among the young. Children study the environment at school and are passionate advocates of green approaches. Perhaps it seems more real to them as they feel it will affect them? I can only hope that as they grow into positions of influence that they carry that passion in their hearts and implement better policies than the current generation of politicians.
Short term goals, long term damage
This attitude also seems prevalent in those running our big companies now. Do they really believe that the profits they make now are the only thing that is important? Are their eyes firmly closed to what might need to change or how they need to adapt to ensure their future longevity? I am not surprised when companies collapse because of cashflow issues. Greedy expansion always has a price and keeping shareholders happy is a poor substitute for satisfied customers and quality products.
Interestingly, I see a rise in corporate social responsibility policies among corporations but some of this is again just lip service. Large corporations wield influence. Some of them choose to use that influence in a positive way for our planet, Marks and Spencer’s come to mind in that arena. They see the economic benefits too; smart energy consumption saves them money in the long run.
I do feel that many businesses and people too, are so worried about their immediate future that they cannot lift their heads up and look further forward. However, in all things, if you don’t have a foundation of long term strategy then all your quick fixes will come to nothing. Your house needs to be built on rock, not the shifting sands of immediate opportunism.
Both with the planet and with our smaller everyday concerns we should be considering the wider and larger picture. We should be considering what we will leave behind once we are dead, buried and forgotten and we should be working on leaving things in a better state then when we appeared if we are to ensure a future for the coming generations. Life is not just about earning money and paying bills. We are better than that.
If we don’t think about the future for all and the planet we inhabit, eventually the human race, government, commerce, business will become as extinct as the dinosaurs and then who will need to worry about money, power or status.