Written by Andrew Williams
The world’s most influential scientists have proven, unequivocally, that Mother Earth is under severe threat. The planet’s rich atmosphere, the requisite element of our existence, is going through an unprecedented period of carbon dioxide warming. This heating of our essential protective layer is jeopardizing human existence, and both the animal and plant kingdoms we cherish so much.
The threat is gut-wrenchingly real. American linguist, cognitive scientist, and political scientist, Noam Chomsky, highlights our responsibility. He says “climate change and nuclear war are the two biggest existential threats to planet earth.”
Scientists believe global warming will cause sea levels to rise, and the displacement of millions of refugees will disrupt food supply chains and shrink habitats. The socio-economic effects will hit communities badly, in ways we can only imagine.
But is anyone foolish enough to ignore these stark warnings, especially from prominent intellectuals? Regretfully, yes. Many people in fact. The reality is unquestionably disturbing. World leaders, like the climate change skeptics making up the core of the Trump administration, are quashing progressive policies and opposing grass-roots activism. In the age of misinformation and “post-truth”, they’re inciting hatred and burying their heads in the sand; ignoring sustainability, chasing short-term corporate profits, and lobbying against the wider interests of the world community.
In doing so, they are harming the long-term prosperity of humankind. Rather than embracing positive action, they’re imposing devastation upon an environment many of us have brought innocent children into. This is stoking an ethical debate in the West about whether, while we’re damaging our environment beyond repair, we should even be bringing more children into the world at all.
It’s a nightmare scenario. It’s a choice we just shouldn’t have to make. But, sadly, some are considering their options. Yes, bringing another life into the world may be costly when animals are facing extinction and the oceans are filling with plastic. On the other hand, as humanity has made these mistakes, shouldn’t it be up to us to rectify them?
For every Gina Rinehart, a billionaire Australian mining magnate who has donated millions to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and is a major pusher of climate science denial, there are young progressives who, with great effort on both a micro and macro level, are changing our increasingly messy planet for the better and shifting public consensus.
Young Progressives Making a Stand
It’s these young people for which we must fight. People like Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, the CEO of Ocean Cleanup, who has invented a device to clear the ocean’s plastic, including the millions of tons making up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and Malala Yousafzai, perhaps the most famous activist of our time, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
There are yet more young people making waves. “What’s at stake right now is the existence of my generation,” were the words of young activist Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez during a speech at the United Nations in 2015. Only 17-years-old, along with 21 others, he has already sued the U.S. Government for failing to act on climate change.
“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”
— Noam Chomsky
We Must Hope: Now Is The Time To Act
Undeniably, the future our children will experience will be much messier than what we have experienced. This means now, not in 5, 10, or 15 years, is the time for us to make progressive personal choices. We must support responsible organizations, larger nonprofit charities, and political entities serious about sustainability and making conscious choices to aid our communities.
Think about your own future, but consider that of the planet too. What if your baby, an inquisitive and pure-minded human being, were to grow up and work on community policies that benefited a handful of people? You’d be proud and the world would be a better place. What if your child discovered a method of stopping global warming, bringing world peace, or softening harmful politics? In 2018, we must be hopeful of this.
We are the guardians of our planet. Hope, along with organized activism and a vision for a better world, is what we must garner. Because, if global leaders across generations, from baby boomers, to millennials, and Generation-Z, don’t think of the consequences, the eleventh hour will be upon us. Irreversible damage will leave a planet that’s without the richness and purities we have known, and to some dwindling extent, still know today.