For the modern, industrial, consumerist society in which we live to continue to survive, it must be sustained through the destruction of our planet’s natural wealth – the precious minerals and resources within it, and the life upon it. In our avaricious quest for greater development, increased capitol, and more possessions, we have ruthlessly and carelessly exploited our planet, causing irreversibly damage. Rather than tending to the natural wealth to which we are heir, we have instead squandered and spoiled it. We have pushed ourselves deeper and deeper into an abyss, from which we can now no longer climb out. The devastation wrought upon the natural environment, which continues at an increasing pace every day, will inevitably bring about horrific consequences.
Thus, in our arrogance, produced either from an ignorance or apathy of the damage we are causing to the Earth, we have sown the seeds of our own destruction. We recklessly continue to invest ourselves heavily in dirty, non-renewable sources of fuel, relying primarily upon them to power our energy-hungry society. Our attempts to divest are half-hearted at best, done to appease political and popular pressures instead of as a concentrated effort to preserve our environment, and are thus completely ineffectual. Though we now have the technologically and economic capacity to commit ourselves to a green revolution, we fail to do so because of an absence of will. Thus, we continue to pollute, and the environment continues to worsen.
Undoubtedly, future generations will view with displeasure our actions today. Indeed, they will see our generation as a selfish, immoral one – for the consequences of our actions will be more destructive for our progeny than ourselves, yet we continue to pollute for our own selfish, short-term benefit. Does not a parent have a responsibility to protect their child? Is it not the parent’s obligation to nurture them, so that the child has a greater opportunity for a successful life than their parent? We would view with disgust and anger a parent who willingly raises their child in an unsafe household, or who shirks on their parental responsibility. Yet, by spoiling the delicate environment and ecosystem, upon which our civilization relies, for the coming generations, we are doing just that! What sort of society are we, if we burden future generations with the debt of environmental catastrophe to pay off the break-neck pace of development and industry we attempt to sustain today? The answer does not bode well for those of us who seek to uphold a higher moral standard.
Clearly, the knowledge of our actions and their inevitable consequences exists, and touches the ears of those who could make action to fix this desperate situation. The technology needed to sustain society in a clean, responsible, renewable manner exists, or is near completion. Already we are beginning to see the damaging effects of an unbalanced and unhealthy environment. So what is to be done? If the individuals who have the power to amend our wrongdoings fail to do so out of ignorance, apathy, or a lack of will, how can we impede an inevitable catastrophe? The answer to this is not easy, and the struggle will not resolve the issue immediately. We must educate the people, instilling in them knowledge of the consequences which will come from our actions. We must make them realize that this issue is not simply a matter of protecting the environment, but upholding higher moral standards so that future generations will be heir to the same security and prosperity that we were. We must teach people, and politicians, that the short-term losses of creating a renewable, responsible economy and society are greatly outweighed by the long-term benefits of a clean environment. We must develop a widespread, popular will for change; not one which comes and passes when convenient like some fashion fad, but rather one which is pervades deeply into our society’s character and our popular consciousness.
Yet the status quo is deeply entrenched, for, in this destructive system of capitol, wealth can buy off any position or prevent any movement against it. The agents of this natural devastation will stop at no end to see that their profits continue being realized, that their products continue being produced. The individual’s contribution to preserving the environment is negligible compared to the mass pollution produced by major industries and corporations, entities whose leaders have an interest in preserving the status quo. In such a system, even a concerted effort by society at large will likely be incapable of rolling back the continuing destruction. Ultimately, if we wish to save and preserve the Earth, a fundamental change in the nature of our economic system will be necessary. We will need to change our expectations, norms, and behaviors in order to live responsibly and sustainably. Our current lifestyle is the product of a destructive exploitation and pollution of our environment; we must fundamentally rethink the way we live our lives, and the way we structure ourselves in the economy, in order to bring about the change that must desperately occur.
Only time will tell whether we as a species can uphold the responsibility demanded of us. Hopefully, we will make the necessary changes before it is too late.