Climate Change and the Conveyor Belt of Responsibility
By Sergey Grankin
“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” – Obama at the State of the Union.
Climate Change is a hot topic everywhere we look – scientists caution us with the critical urgency, Hollywood transforms it into blockbuster hits, and politicians quarrel over the facts as if they could be disagreed upon. Yet when faced with the daunting task of lessening or even reversing its effects, all we get is a few infographics and a study telling us “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Of course the only thing recycled after a few statistics is that three word alliteration. We underestimate how much waste we humans are capable of producing, and we’ve forgotten how to make less of the mess. The rest of this piece could be filled with facts, opinions and stats about climate change, deforestation, pollution, etc., but that’s not really what I’m here to write about. There’s really only one thing that frustrates me more than our inability to bring our own bags to the grocery store – our lack of responsibility for it.
I’ve heard legions of prominent figures exclaim how “Climate Change is going to ruin this planet of our kids,” “Our children won’t have clean air,” “Unless our next generations find out how to live on Mars, the human species won’t survive,” and on and on it goes. While these baby boomers and Generation X leaders fail to address climate issues in full, they go on unapologetically about how much the future children will suffer because of their mistakes or ignorance.
“The bullet is out of the gun, there’s little we can do now,” they’ll say, defending their lack of accountability. Listening to their piercing words about future generations, it hits me like the symbolic bullet out of the gun of disaster – I am the generation they’re talking about. I am part of those affected children. Now, this isn’t just about the science, it just got personal.
As a young adult of the millennial generation, I have more responsibility than generations before me. In fact, all millennials do. Not because we have more technology, options, jobs, and opportunities than before. Not at all. It’s because the side effects from policies and social habits of the past century are finally kicking in. It’s those things that happened years before our conception that now bear their heftiest tolls on us. The industrial revolution was the golden ticket of the late 1800s but almost 200 years later, we could be turning violet form suffocation on heavy smog. The automobile – an invention to transform how people move throughout the world, yet the bigger transformation has been to the world we live in. Social Security was the solution in the 1930s but as we progress into the new millennium, these funds have become a burden we carry without any payout. Though our ancestors were merely looking for the best solution of their time, their lack of knowledge is now catching up and affecting us all. So are they to blame? Or does it even matter?
The blame game is similar to the classic family board game of Monopoly; it can go on forever, most people will quit before it’s finished, and even if someone does win, you’re all still sitting at your dining room table upset with each other. Basically it’s pointless. Just as pointless as shoving responsibility onto future generations for actions you could help change or reverse. We can’t undo history, but we can change what we do in the present to advance the hopeful reality for the future. For starters, let’s take responsibility for what we do and how it affects others. Generation X. Why not utilize your strong influence in power, leadership and media, and finally set forward a plan to deal with all the repercussions? Baby Boomers. While the freeway system you all managed to build works right now, it’s not perfect, and its usefulness will soon be exhausted. So maybe don’t keep hammering in “traditional values” and promoting methods that “have always worked for this country.” Times are changing, and we have to change with them.
We’ve mostly agreed that all the change we want to see has to be made by our neighbor, and not ourselves. Someone else will always do it, and just like that, nothing really changes. Well it’s time to put an end to such madness. We have to own up to our mistakes and wield the power of change for the betterment of humankind.