In the measurable identity of human kind, we have no greater instrument than history. That which happened, was recorded and which we can look back on because by knowing what happened before we can partially anticipate what is to come. For instance; we saw what happened in the annals of history when massive swaths of influenza swept the across portions of the globe at the turn of the century and have an idea as to how that effects populations, what kinds of control and treatment worked and what didn’t.
Digging further back we have shadows of periods of time that are just dark whispers to modern human beings. The dark ages and the plague that swept Europe in the middle ages and carved away half it’s population; the somewhat better recorded epidemics that almost entirely annihilated the native population of the Americas after the arrival of Europeans. These things teach us about what it is like to live in an wide, vast and engulfing change in the expected nature of society as it is affected by something beyond human control.
When a disease sweeps across an area, we understand concepts like quarantine and isolation. We understand methods of treatment and examination of cause. Even dating back over a hundred years ago we know what has worked and what hasn’t and how to approach situations like this even if they aren’t 100 percent effective. Still, it’s a thing you can plan for and respond to. It is within human power.
What happens when the very environment transforms around centuries long assumed states of being? Whether you accept that it’s human caused or not, what do you do? How do you respond the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, the vanquishing of an entire way of life as it’s swallowed in the sudden transformation of an area from livable to not? Going into the next few centuries, this, more than anything else, may become the dominant question for those who are being born just now.
They will inherit an Earth that was irresponsibly possessed by an arrogant and self interested ancestry whose only concern was what amount of it could be controlled and what amount of wealth could be held with in that space of land. We’ll never truly know what kind of Earth will be passed to those that come after us, but evidence suggests it will not be the Earth we live on now.
Do we bare any responsibility for this? When one century passed into the next, do we worry that we won’t have to worry about a declining state of living for those that come after us, or is that the problem of a generation that is not ours? Is it responsible to simply say – we can’t change it, so why worry? Or is it responsible to say, we may have some influence on it, or some ability to prepare for it, so we should worry?
A parent thinking of their child would say that no matter how small the percentage that they could improve their child’s life would take every step to do so. But a human living on an Earth they have taken for granted will simply leave it as the next generation’s problem. I personally think sometimes a hundred or two hundred years in the future, about the generations living then and how they’ll have recorded this generation in history. Think of how today’s generation looks back on the turn of the century. The destitute and impoverished conditions of cities choked in uncontrolled sewage and smog. Or further back, to the middle age, of people barely above stone age human beings stretching out a pitiful existence in the short few decades they have before succumbing to incurable disease. In two hundred years will this century look just like that? Backwards and ignorant, reckless and irresponsible in it;s misuse of the environment until hundreds of thousands paid the price and the world change uncontrollably around the rest until it settled and took the shape that the new world would learn to live in.
The scariest part of this notion is that those of this generation that live today and deny that this will ever happen or at least take comfort in thinking it will happen long after they are dead may actually live to see it happen, because it’s already beginning to happen a small piece at a time now. One day, without warning and in the midst of an utterly normal day – the news will be broadcast of some tremendous and unthinkable transformation that just took place.
The loss of known marine life in a huge portion of the world’s oceans. The final and absolute flooding of regions of land once centers of commerce and community that can never again be populated or lived in. It will happen and it may happen sooner than later, and when that news comes out we may think back thirty, forty or fifty years and wonder why we didn’t try to prepare for it when everyone was warning us way back when. We may wonder where our leaders were; where our government was, and why this is happening.
No matter what, it will happen. Human caused or not, the world will change and human beings will have to live through it. What is material is to what level human kind will acknowledge and prepare for it; and determine that the world does not actually revolve around money.