The legacy we leave our kids

This snapshot practically shouts the central question of our time:

“What kind of a world are we leaving to our children and grandkids?”

It’s Moscow in August 2010, when record heat and drought parched the Russian countryside, fueling smoky wildfires that blanketed the city with smog.

The take-away:   Scrambling earth’s climate triggers unpredictable chains of events, few of them pleasant.     Today’s kids and grandkids will be hit hardest.

When you think about it, the Tea Party is profoundly right about one thing:     We should be thinking not only about our own comfort, but about the legacy we leave behind.    But our legacy is more than just the financial balance sheet.    We owe it to our kids to leave them a world as beautiful and bountiful as the world we inherited.  A world where children can breathe.

[For more on climate intergenerational justice, see ClimateMama.    Also the poem “My great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep” and other bites tagged children or justice.]


The photo accompanied Thomas Friedman’s column (3/4/12, NYT) that draws from two new books to make this point:      In a world headed for 9 billion people,  continued economic growth requires a clean energy revolution.

“We are going to go from green versus gold, to green equals gold,”  says [author James] Moody.   Because the only way to grow without consuming more resources is through systemic breakthroughs in efficiency.”

In the long run the Western growth paradigm is a dead end.    Nothing grows endlessly without destroying itself.    Just ask a cancer cell.

In the short run,  Friedman is surely right that the best bet for 9 billion consumers to thrive on a maxed-out planet is to harness private enterprise, profit and innovation to the wagon of clean energy.

At the same time, we can begin to move our standard of progress away from GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to something akin to Bhutan’s GNH (Gross National Happiness).    Toward, higher “quality of life” rather than greater “quantity of stuff.”   Ultimately, our only choice is whether to make this transition voluntarily or be driven there willy-nilly by the laws of physics.

2 thoughts on “The legacy we leave our kids

  1. Harriet Shugarman

    Thanks for showcasing!…we need to do something now… that picture represents Today’s reality. What will it mean to our children and grandchildren if we ignore what is in front of us…We can’t continue, business as usual, knowing what we know….

  2. climatechangecomedian

    I saw that same Thomas Friedman article and I wanted to make a Bite out of it. Something like: ‘Green vs. Gold: so old school. Green = Gold: The Future.’ I hope we can keep playing around with this because there is a potential for a good bite here. I almost put it in the ‘hopper’ for new climate bit ideas. However, hopefully, you will still see my comment here.

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