Sunday, September 4, 2011

Repost: The Future for Better or Worse

Hand and Universe
National Harbor, MD

An acquaintance of mine made a simple statement that troubled me. He stated that for the first time in our lives things were not going to be better for our children. He added that we needed to get rid of the debt burden this country faces. My friend is an intelligent man and by way of his vocation, a lawyer, has argued logically all his life.

Yes the future for our children does hold some legacy costs. There's no doubt about this fact. However, our children inherit a world that is no longer dominated by the threat of a nuclear war. Our children will not rehearse the fallout shelter drills we did as children. Nor will our children face the threat of global domination by either Russia or China. Their world could potentially be more peaceful, if we learn the lessons of consumption.

The period of change we now face is an opportunity to revisit how we consume and how we can reduce our consumption and reliance on non renewable energy. It's also about learning how to manage and recycle the resources which we have. One example that quickly comes to mind is the automobile. Since the '80's and after the energy crisis of the 70's, our vehicles have become larger and less efficient. The recent disruption of energy supplies served as an awakening to the automotive industry: change or lose business to competition. 

The overall weight of the automobile will have to come down in order to reduce fuel consumption. This means that manufactures will either have to use thinner gauge steel or use more aluminum parts to obtain energy efficiencies. This can be done now. This a lesson our children are learning right now. Aluminum by the way is one of the few metals that can be recycled indefinitely. High energy prices make this metal more attractive and a more viable substitute for steel. 

How we illuminate our homes, schools, work places, and highways is also changing. LED lighting like we are already using in our TV's and computer monitors, and smart phones will also reduce the amount of energy we consume. If what my friend means that his children wont have an 18,000 square ft home, then he is correct. He will be correct because it doesnot make sense to consume resources with disregard to the energy costs. The generation coming up will be very cognizant of their energy footprint. 

By changing how we consume now, we can in fact prepare ourselves and our children for a more efficient future. I would rather have both peace and a greener environment for our children. If this comes at the expense of reduced consumption and pollution so be it. As for the debt, think about what we have paid for and quietly start paying for it. In the process we need to wean ourselves from non renewable sources of energy. The costs are high but its time to use our ingenuity to conserve and look for ways to change our lifestyles and make productive living and cities our top priorities. We can and need to change. Our future depends on it. Insulate your home, check your thermostats, recycle, choose wisely your method of transportation, and protect your water. Our children can in fact have better futures by consuming less.

Since 9/11, few of us have sacrificed anything or anyone, for the sake of our future and our children we should reconsider consumption and growth. We cannot sustain nor afford our prior trajectory. The world has changed and requires that we share more of dwindling natural resources. This requires more ingenuity not less. It also requires the vision of sacrifice. That's a reasonable burden we should all be willing to share unless we choose to sacrifice more youth in wars that cannot be won.

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