What Will Our Legacy Be?
I spent some time on the couch this weekend reading Hot, Flat, & Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution- And How it Can Renew America, a book written by Thomas Friedman in 2008 and then expanded by him in 2009. It was dense, full of economic terms and events that sit outside of the things I normally read. I think my time with it was important though- Friedman made conclusions that I knew to be true- essentially that we've overvalued financial gain and grossly undervalued our greatest resource- the environment. This explains I believe, in least in part, why we continue to borrow & steal from it, why we continue to squander its limited resources.
Dear, dear neighbors, this single planet is all we have. And it is the only planet our children & their children will have. For their sake, we must do much, much better. If we don’t examine our consumption- our purchases big & small nothing will change, and even that is only one part of a much larger “treatment” plan. But it’s one of the things we can control. We’ve got to start thinking about where the things we buy actually come from, how they’re made, how long we’ll use them, and what will happen to them when they have lost their usefulness for us. Our fate and that of our immensely beautiful oceans, our fertile soils, our air- is tied directly to these kinds of really inconvenient choices.
We must choose to become more conscious consumers, which means we gotta think bigger. If we are to outlive the elephants, and the rhinos, and the polar bears, whose fate are signs of our own- if we are to survive as a species, we must restrain ourselves from buying so many of those things that don’t hold value: things on sale, things built to be discarded, things built to be quickly replaced. We must pause before we make a purchase. And there is nothing easy or cheap or fast about it.
We face an incredibly high stakes challenge on that gets more difficult with each passing day, but like it or not, if we don’t start making consistently, thoughtful choices about what we buy, the fate of elephants, and rhinos, and polar bears will quickly become ours as well.
This is our planet, our inheritance, and its health is the most important legacy we’ll pass along to generations of humans we’ll never meet. This musing is dedicated to them.