What Will Our Children Make of This

It’s hard to stay positive right now. Everything seems to be coming apart at this most critical time for the future well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. Indeed, we seem to be causing the next great extinction event in our little world’s multi-billion-year history: Most species but ours will go extinct in the next few hundred years.

People feel disconnected from the political process. The forces of hate are stronger than they’ve been in this millennium, fueled by a ratings-obsessed media that has lost all sense of what it meant to be the Fourth Estate that kept the government in check for the benefit of the populace. Unrestrained corporate greed has defeated healthy political discourse, and indeed objectivity, at least for now. The medium that was supposed to solve the problem, the Internet, has unintentionally exacerbated it in the pursuit of advertising revenues.

The historical parallels to the populist uprisings currently happening around the world are striking and terrifying. We have been here before. Now, we have nuclear weapons and the threat of a changing climate more imminent than ever.

The question is not whether the world will change, but by how much. How many hundreds of millions of people will die or be forced from the places they call home?

What is one to do other than place blame and feel depressed?

It just seems so hopeless.

An abnormally high number of climate scientists are now taking anti-depressants. Their whole lives revolve around seeing a future that ranges from “mild hell” to “blazing inferno,” and nobody is listening, or their opinion is only as valid as that of a high school dropout who spent a few minutes taking a cursory glance at the ‘climate change’ Wikipedia page–if that.

What’s clear is that this trend isn’t going to reverse itself any time soon. Truth, science, and reason are no longer morally important to large segments of the world’s population. The climate will get warmer. Much warmer. We in the West cheerfully celebrate sitting outside to eat at a restaurant in November, without sparing more than a few thoughts to what that means.

What will our children make of this? Will they understand when we tell them we all felt incapable of effecting change? That the pressures of a few massive corporations were simply too great to even try to defend the planet? That the only thing we could collectively come up with was a return to our most tribal, basic and ugly. To everyone having their own definition of truth, and their own facts. To everyone hating anyone who isn’t the same as them.

Can we make it to the other planets before Earth becomes more like Venus?

The only way for us to save ourselves within our current framework, it seems, is to play the same game as the rich and powerful: to make expansion into space a financially obvious thing to do even over short periods of time. To demonstrate that tapping into the practically limitless power supply that is our Sun makes better business sense right now. That people can live a decent life without needing to work a job that destroys the planet.

Those who want to fight must operate within the system, and engage the power centers they revile without being themselves corrupted or controlled.

In the immortal words of Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

The world needs you more than ever for this most challenging and important task. We, the eyes and ears and feelings of the cosmos, have spent 13.7 billion years in the making, and our fate now hangs by a thread. We must not go silently into the night.