Human beings (Homo sapiens) are a relatively young species compared to others on the planet. Some species of crocodiles and sharks have been around for millions of years remaining relatively unchanged from an evolutionary perspective, while primitive Homo sapiens appeared in Africa only 195,000 years ago just to provide some context of scale. However in the short time humans have been walking the Earth we have accomplished many wonders and made huge leaps towards advancing ourselves as a species. We have harnessed the power of fire, domesticated plants and animals, built complex machines such as the printing press and the automobile, discovered electricity, landed on the moon, created an instantaneous global communication and information system (or more commonly known as the internet), and we have even unlocked the secrets of molecular science including mapping our own genome. We are studying objects out in space that have never been seen before but we can measure and calculate them. We have come quite a long way from that original primitive ape who dared to leave the safety of the trees in order to find scarce food on the African plains so long ago. Indeed it seems we sprang into action as a species and ushered in a new age of global human dominance. We invented better and faster ways to benefit ourselves and support our growing population, but in doing so we lost touch with the ancient knowledge our ancestors possessed about living in harmony with the land. The knowledge that if we do not respect the environment in which we live and do not preserve and protect it, then it will degrade and resources will become scarcer due to our actions. However, for our African ancestors and essentially every generation that has followed, until the last few hundred years, this was not as big of a problem because it was always an option to simply pick up their things and move to a new pristine location to start over again. The problem for us that has arisen within the last few hundred years is that we have become a global species and are beginning to fill more and more remote locations of the Earth, the result of this being that we are running out of places to move to start over again in a new untouched location. So would it not make more sense for us humans to live in balance with the land we rely on to survive? From a survival perspective this behaviour seems necessary for any global species, or else they will soon find themselves extinct. Sadly, sustainable practices are still seen as something that can be debated, or factored into an equation instead of a consistent truth by which we all must live by. To some this idea of sustainability seems evident but for others some convincing is needed. Perhaps by understanding what challenges and difficulties future generations will encounter, this will help to paint a clearer image of what must be done and why a revolution of the human spirit is needed now more than ever.
The millennial generation, the next generation to inherit the responsibility of taking care of the planet, faces the greatest challenges ever encountered by humankind. The collective advancement of humanity since our species arrival has led to our current predicament. Modern environmental destruction, biodiversity loss, social and political unrest, and wealth inequality are all issues that have been building up and unfolding for generations but now seem to plague our everyday lives. It is the responsibility of a generation to recognize the faults of their elders and correct them for the present, and to do so in a way that does not compromise future generations to come. That is the basis of a sustainable generation.
In recent history the advancement of the human race has been exponentially increasing towards a future that is not only unstable environmentally, but socially and politically as well. Our air, water and soils are more polluted than ever, species all around the globe are disappearing, the wealth gap between the poor and the rich is getting larger and larger, prisons and war are considered business opportunities, and democratic political systems are more of a bidding war for the mega-rich than a platform for the people to elect the best suited leader with new and innovative ideas. It is only recently that the idea has been suggested that this trend may not be in our best interest. But as the signs become clearer and clearer about how constant growth is affecting the natural world and the balance between nations, many people are realizing the drastic harms a society based on limitless growth can have on their host which is finite.
I truly believe that in the not so distant future the human race will be in one of two scenarios. In the first I see that we continue to indulge upon our desires and lead with ignorance and impulsiveness. I see that we fail to recognize the significance of our effects and stop them from getting worse, and because of this, parents would need to explain to their children that it was partially due to their inaction that led to the current state of the planet. We would need to apologize to them for the failure of our generation and ourselves to preserve a world fit for them to live and thrive in. Now I must ask the question, can you imagine having the same conversation with your children? Telling them that they cannot go fishing because there are no fish to catch, that they cannot go for a walk in the woods because they are all cut down, that they must wear a mask to breathe or that they cannot drink from a mountain stream because it is polluted. It seems unthinkable for most, yet billions of people may have to have this conversation as this becomes their reality.
The second alternative for humanity is a much more positive one, and that is having the privilege to explain to younger generations that it was in part due to your actions that the world was saved from a dangerous and uncertain future. You could explain how you were a part of one of the most exciting moments in human history and that it was because of one revolution that the outlook for the future of the entire human race and even the planet shifted. This seems to be a time that will test the true resilience of humanity and see if we can manage to put our differences aside and unite as a planet and as the human race.
The time has come to no longer overlook the effects our actions have on the planet but rather to embrace this knowledge and make informed decisions about what kind of changes we need to consider and what kind of future we want for ourselves and generations to come. This needs to be a serious discussion in today’s mainstream society. As of right now we do not currently possess the ability or option to leave planet Earth and inhabit another planet so Earth is all we have to call home. Therefore, contentment with ignorance in the face of knowledge is never justified, no matter what your allegiance. Where ignorance over-looks, knowledge sees all, where ignorance denies, knowledge accepts, and where ignorance forgets, knowledge remembers. Knowledge is a double edged sword that has the power to do great evils, but also to free anyone who embraces its power with reason and responsibility.
Ahead of us we have the greatest opportunity any person could ever hope to be living through. We are currently witnessing one of the greatest moments in human history and don’t even realize it! Generations from now will talk about these years being the turning point in our existence, the generation that saved us. An example of human triumph on a scale never seen before, our indomitable spirit that always finds the correct course even amidst the darkest times. The climax of global unity, dawning a new age to a promising and prosperous future, leaving our past behind us as history but never forgetting the lessons learned. We must take responsibility for our actions and take the necessary steps to correct them, a sure sign of maturity for us as a species. A billion whispers are easy to ignore, but one unanimous cry for change can never be over-looked. Now is the time to decide what kind of world we will pass on to future generations, now is the time for change, now is the time for revolution.