The CBCTV National News for Sunday, December 11th included a commentary on the results of the Durban Conference that had just concluded. One of the persons interviewed was a Calgary Professor whose opinion was that from a Canadian perspective the outcome was practical, moral issues aside.
Walter Pitman has reflected on moral issues as these are central to the Mission of For Our Grandchildren. Here are his reflections.
“The Association Forourgrandchildren is our vote of confidence in humankind’s capacity to care for its future.
The human species has been a form of life on this planet Earth for but a speck of the universe’s time span. Yet creativity and compassion have been characteristics of the species – as have unfortunately, violence and inhumanity.
Forourgrandchildren is based on the unspoken assumption that humankind can care deeply about the quality of life of future generations on the planet, a quality determined by the presence of clean air and water, sufficient food and shelter to provide for comfort and sustenance for the planet’s inhabitants. Unhappily, without a more equal sharing these elements are not even guaranteed today for many millions of people. The fact of severe climate change is very much upon us and threatens the very assurance of sustained human life. In short, the species is at risk.
We must understand that global warming is already with us…the statistics are present. We have already seen the results of climate destabilization, fierce and brutal hurricanes and tornados, the melting of the arctic ice caps, and the rising levels of the oceans threatening millions of people who live on their shores.
The most profound question is “Do we care about our own grandchildren’s quality of life?”
Do we care enough to change our present lifestyle to the extent that our own carbon footprint will be less devastatingly destructive? If not, short and brutish will be the nature of the lives of those who are about to succeed our generation unless some commitment to restraint and sharing replaces consumption and greed as the accepted behaviour of the human species.
The pressure to survive on a depleted planet will surely unleash the worst levels of selfishness and violence that the species is capable of reaching.
That is the moral dilemma facing our generation, one that has no comparison with any faced by the planet’s inhabitants throughout human history.
The irony is that those of our species who live in the developing world will face the crisis of extermination first – and they are the human beings who have made the least impact on Mother Earth’s well being. But ultimately, we must all become engaged in a campaign to achieve a balance of forces that will mean sustainability, one that will include the planet and the survival of its many forms of life.
Previous generations created societies that placed fewer demands on the planet…and some grandparents have good advice to give on the joys and delights of those earlier ages. Those eras brought forth great achievements in medicine, engineering and learning of all kinds.
And what losses threaten to destroy the mountaintops of great music, magnificent literature, wondrous invention that emerged from this simpler lifestyle. In contemplating the decimation of human civilization what richness, variety and compassion of humanity’s understandings of philosophy, psychology and theology would disappear in the disintegration of what the human race had gathered. And all these glorious realities will disappear in a sufficiently polluted, unhealthy environmental disaster on a planet no longer habitable by human and countless other species.
Our present generation filled with pride and arrogance may well be the last one with the responsibility placed in its hands of making a decision to keep the very elements of human behaviour – love, compassion, caring, decency, kindness that will allow countless millennia of future achievement upon which to build the very best of examples of human cooperation.
Recognition of this long road and its meaning for our grandchildren is the first logical step in a journey that promises so very much!”