Living as though the future mattered
I write this in 2023 when our climate emergency has become increasingly obvious to everyone. No longer is it just climate scientists and activists that are taking note. But we’re all aware now aren’t we? Those of us that agree with science and who are observing nature are living in a state of constant climate anxiety. Personally, I can say it’s on my mind all of the time as a sort of background dread.
It’s hard to be honest and also find hope as our current trajectory is very much in the wrong direction and there are no signs that our political, cultural or economic systems are prepared to move us in the opposite direction. Truthfully, we’ve given up before we ever really started. Most of us see that our political systems have failed and we have no hope that they’ll suddenly shift course. But we ourselves are a part of that problem. We accusingly point our fingers at politicians, corrupted political processes, corporations and then we throw up our hands proclaiming there’s nothing we can possibly do. We put on a show of being frustrated and angry but then we go along with the convenient way of life we’re used to. We let ourselves off the hook. We take no responsibility.
We are dooming not just ourselves but future humans. It’s deferred violence. Imagine stepping outside with an all powerful gun, aiming it up into the sky and sending a spray of bullets up into the sky. With this particular gun though we can be certain that every bullet will come down and every bullet will find a target. That’s our inaction. That’s our convenience. Our way of life is causing current and future destruction, misery and death.
And it’s long past the time that we stare into that deep, dark truth. It’s time we squarely face our role in it and stop making excuses about how we’re powerless. Our action has been to doom others. Children, grandchildren, other species-to not just suffering, but in some cases, to extinction.
We’ve already committed ourselves to 1.5 degrees of warming and all evidence is that we’ve likely committed to something much worse. The burning truth of our relatively near future will be human, ecological and planetary catastrophe.
All that said if 300 million US citizens lived as though the future actually mattered, if we would commit to real and yes, drastic changes to our lives, we could at least begin to turn the ship. We can begin the process of adapting and getting used to new realties. We, the people, must lead because waiting for the political process to fix THIS problem is folly.
I can see no higher purpose than to live as though the future mattered. To do otherwise, is to be complicit in the worst possible crimes. We can begin now. Our everyday choices can be choices based on restraint. We can do with far less and we can commit to being uncomfortable now, to begin to offset the worst case futures. We don’t do this alone. We encourage one another. We share resources. We talk and comfort one another. We can build a better world starting today by doing less, consuming less, driving less, flying less. Far, far, far less. Our goal and our commitment is to get to zero emissions. ZERO. Think about that. Really let it settle in. Reconcile with it. That is the necessity.
But even that isn’t enough. Frankly, those of us that live in the US, those of us that live in the “developed world”, we also owe the future, our fellow species and our neighboring humans in developing nations an apology and our humility. For all of our finger pointing at the rich, the politicians, the corporations, many millions of us have continued to insist on a convenient life as a right. And that’s a part of the crime we’ve committed.
Let’s take a step back from the brink. Pause in our lives and confront what we’ve done, what we’re doing.
Now let’s live as though our future matters.
Note about this post: Not surprisingly I recently shared a climate-related article and in the discussion that followed something I wrote resonated with folks. Patrick suggested I share in a stand alone blog post so, this is me doing that.