I woke this morning with a question in my mind about my great grand parents or even my grand parents. Or perhaps other ancestors who are now gone from this world. What would they have to say about the state of things today? In particular, what would they say about the climate emergency?
It’s increasingly clear that we have remain on the wrong course for too long and that we will continue along this path even longer. The most optimistic projections put us now at 2° of warming being close to locked in. And the more realistic scenarios based on the current state of our response and trajectory has us likely going to 3+ which is to say, run-away warming that won’t be stopped.
And so I think about previous generations and at the same time those who are yet to be born. I think about someone who, today is 5 years old. I know someone with a child of that age. I know someone who has a toddler of less than a year old. And I wonder, what will their lives be like in 25 years? 35 years?
As we move forward, today’s adults will continue to watch as the climate emergency unfolds. It will go from scary to something much worse. As the impacts worsen, becoming more intense and more widespread, how long will they go on insisting on “living their best lives”? Hey, you only live once! How long will the top 10% (likely anyone reading these words fits in this goup) continue to live for themselves with no thought for their own children or those yet to come?
The thinking seems to be, I’ve invested in this life. It’s the only life I know how to live. I’m stuck in it so just keep on keeping on. With great nonchalance the middle class of the world, certainly of the US, seems to have made its choice to shrug off any notion of altering their lives to face this emergency.
Which brings me back to my thoughts of our ancestors. Would they have been so selfish? I grew up hearing my grand parents' stories of poverty and the Great Depression. Of going off to a World War to fight. From those decades the modern vision of the American Dream was born. A dream of comfort in suburbia, of having the good things in life. They were there at the beginning of what would be the driving force of our future end. What would they say if they were alive today and could comprehend the full scope of where we would end up?
And I look it my parents and my siblings and their now-adult children, all of whom accepted the American Dream as the way to live life. They’re in it now. As we watch it begin to crumble, a way of life that was never going to last more than two hundred years, such a short span of time. The humans of today were born into the peak of a way of life based on fossil fuels and in 100 years it has wrought the ending story of many thousands of previous generations.
I suspect that our current nonchalance is at an end. Going forward there will be fewer vacations because as we’ve seen this past year, even vacation destinations burn. It is ironic that such destinations are often referred to as hotspots. Hot indeed when they burn into uncontrolled wildfires that burn cities and force the well-to-do vacationers literally into the ocean to survive. Be it Greece, Hawaii or any other destination, our future is now upon us and our delusion is ending whether we want it to or not.