One of humankind’s utmost priorities is to be able to provide for oneself. I would argue that this goes one step beyond merely being able to accrue resources to sustain life for a man and his family, but also to ensure that these resources are managed in such a way that this accrual can continue with reasonable expectation into the future. How can people be satisfied living unsustainably? It is completely outside our means. We cannot live in a linear system on a finite planet.
Extrapolation is an extremely important skill in this day and age. One of the most important, I would argue. We can imagine one man on an island alone with one palm tree. He may harvest the coconuts as quickly as they are produced, but no faster. If he attempts to chop down the tree for other uses, he will no longer have that sustainable food source. We understand that. Why can we not extrapolate that example to a scale more appropriate for our society, with billions of people and billions of palm trees? Is it because we cannot see the effects in front of our eyes? How collectively unimaginative of us. Our society is the giant who slew the geese that lays the golden eggs. The golden egg is our sustenance, the goose Mother Nature, and we are depriving her of her ability to sustain us. Can we not see the mistakes we are making?
How can we be so short sighted? Are we not evolved to think that far in advance, to think of those that come after us? Perhaps we are not. We have never in our past had such an impact on our environment on such a scale as to have to deal with these problems individually or collectively before. Certain isolated societies have come up against problems of sustainability and either perished or changed their ways, but now this problem faces humanity at large, and we are woefully underwhelmed at the problem. It is not in our genetic nature because it has never directly affected our survival. I say it is time to change that. Our social conscience needs to evolve to consider the future of this planet, for all of its future inhabitants. Think of it as if they are our sons and daughters, alive today, only their faces cannot be seen and their personalities cannot be known for years to come. The tragedy is no less.
We’re here for a good time, not for a long time. I get that. All I’m pointing out to you is this: Let’s give future generations their own chance at that decision as well.