What Do We Owe The Future?


Elijah Cummings, Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, from Baltimore’s 7th District, died October 17, 2019. Many people in our country from various political points of view recognize his civil rights advocacy and senior statesman status. 

Cummings has an answer to our question about what we owe the future:

“Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see … will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No-we will not do that.”

This core question of what do we owe the future is at the heart of our ability to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing.  We cannot look to the economists, scientists, or other experts to answer this question.  Instead, we as citizens must express a collective voice about our values.

A scientific panel of the IPP, under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded that oceans are warming and ice sheets are shrinking because of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2006 and 2015, the Greenland Ice Sheet lost ice at an average rate of about 278 billion tons every year, while ice sheets in Antarctica during the same period melted at a rate of about 155 billion tons every year.

The result is disrupting global fisheries and threatening approximately 700 million people who live in the low-lying coastal communities higher flooding, storm surges, and acidification. Much of this change is attributed to man-made emissions.   

Aviva, an insurance company, concluded that gradual warming temperature throughout the world is changing the behavior of natural catastrophes. It raised its cusomters’ premiums as a result of these data.  Some areas are uninsurable because of potential extreme global warming impacts.

Additionally, the Economist reported that climate change touches everything they cover and report on. The poor and marginalized populations have the most to lose when the weather turns against them.  What may be less obvious is that the processes that force climate hange are built into the foundations of the world economy and of geopolitics.  Measures to check climate change have to be similarly wide-ranging and all encompassing.  To decarbonize an economy requires a near complete overhaul.

Back to our question. What do we owe the future? Seems to me that we owe them an authentic way of looking at what humans are doing to the environment. We owe them actions that make climate change a public policy priority. We owe our children, who are our messages to the future, the tools and support to make the necessary changes in our world’s economies and political structures.

So, pose this question to anyone who will listen. And, if you are so inclined, send your answers to me and I’ll report on them in future newsletters. 


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