- It’s immoral to saddle today’s young people with an inheritance of environmental catastrophe
I’ve never known an Earth that wasn’t on fire.
I’m 23 years old, and I’m not alone. My entire generation has come of age in a world so defined by climate change and human destruction — by forests burning and glaciers melting, by extinguished species and rising seas — that it’s sometimes been hard to fathom what an even more dismal future might look like.
That is, until the pandemic reared its ugly head, bringing about the kind of worldwide lockdowns and upheavals of daily life that have given terrifying prescience to the term “global emergency” while still falling far short of what scientists say will be the worst environmental catastrophes that await us. The fate of nature, like so much else, has been an agonizing side-story to the virus — a real-time plot that is being followed most closely, I think, by those of us young enough to one day see the worst of it.
Here in the U.S., though, the chorus is louder now than it’s ever been — as some of the worst wildfires on record tear through the American West, painting the sky orange, and as hurricanes ravage the South, leaving behind apocalyptic fields of ruin. In today’s pandemic moment, nature’s storyline has reached a low point. It’s unfathomable to me that some people can still so easily shrug it off — especially if they have kids, or love anyone who is younger than them — while for so many in my generation, it is such a constant, excruciating worry. Apathy, let alone denial, can no longer be an acceptable option, because we know that if we stay on this course, the destruction will inevitably come for us, too.
But I like to think that the research and reckoning of resilience from the original “anthropause” still gives some hope — perhaps if we all live a little lighter, if we listen to those who are in harmony with the land, and if we take solace in all that there is to love in the world — that nature might meet us halfway. That if we start by turning things around in November and following it up with the most drastic action possible, we could still harness that final, fleeting opportunity to build a cleaner and greener future for us all. The planet, and our fate on it, hang in the balance.
Source: Jordan Salama, Scientific American