The daily routine is affected by angry adolescents that manifest in defense of nature, with a renewed idealism.
I share both the anger and the idealism and that is why I think it’s important to reflect upon this subject.
Thirty years ago, we were fighting to protect the environment and we’ve achieved small progresses, insufficient, but important. Not only in the field of science, but also in constitutions, laws and rulings.
Five years ago, this progressive tendency has transformed into a regression. Important leaders of the world have declared that it is okay that artic glaciers melt enhancing commercial navigation or that the fires in the Amazon are not what they seem to be or that climate change is a mere rhetoric without fundaments. Others declare they protect the environment, but are uninterested in making the necessary transformations.
These attitudes contrast with the daily experience because we all go through the increasing environmental collapse. The floods are creating panic, the droughts are increasing, the resources are getting contaminated and sees are filled with plastic. The biodiversity is deteriorating because of animal and plant species disappearing, replaced by an unsustainable homogeneity. Nature has lost its resilience, its capacity to maintain its own identity and the system’s balance is collapsing. That is why we see hurricanes that astonish us, freezing winters, hot summers. There are places where there is too much water causing floods and others where there is so little water that is insufficient for survival. Whether it’s because of excess or shortage, it is evident there has been an alteration in natural harmony.
We all perceive nature’s increasing weakness as a result of human inherence.
Shakespeare once wrote that it is a calamity when the crazy guide the sick. Denying the facts is being blind, not acting is insane and that explains the anger from a great deal of citizens.
The generational conflict
Why do youngsters complain?
Recently, we trusted in the great tales about progressive development, which used words to describe a utopia that future generations would enjoy. Today, on the contrary, the social prognosis is different. The future is not promising and the world we are leaving to our future generations resembles pretty much to the actual meaning of the word utopia: no place.
The conflict between generations is evident.
Those who are adults during the 21st century are adopting decisions that will seriously affect the way of living of those who will live during the next half of the century or the next one. It’s highly probable that they won’t be capable of enjoying the resources that we have or won’t see the landscapes that we have seen.
This problem has already taken place. For instance, many European countries arrived to different African regions during the 18th and 19th centuries, where they found resources that they ended up exploiting. The African continent became poor. That poverty was suffered by the generation that lived during the 20th century. Today, we see how those people are migrating to Europe as a result of this intromission. Evidently, they are claiming the debt of the previous generation because they don’t have any possible future in their own lands.
Examples abound all around the world.
The core issue is that public policies are not taking into consideration the medium and long term possibilities and future generations cannot defend themselves from the current conducts that will eventually affect them.
Hence, it is important to legitimize future generations in judicial processes and incorporate a long term vision in our decisions.
Development and environment
The contrast between development and environmental protection generates a polarized debate. However, there is an unquestionable fact: if we all lived like the richest sectors of developed countries, we would need more than one planet earth.
This conflict exposes a serious issue about equality among citizens, generations, development models and the necessity of a real paradigm shift.
We urgently need to change the direction of our political, economic and environmental system because it will end up in catastrophe.
The idea of sustainable development and sustainable consumption is based on the necessity of evaluating the need of richness versus the limits that need to be pondered.
There is a very important field of opportunities within the economy that are consistent with the protection of the environment, which can generate positive external effects. Renewable energies, sustainable tourism, organic foods, ecological architecture, efficient use of water and all the new technologies that enable us to start opening a closed gate between development and environment.
Human behavior can destroy the planet, but it can also shift the direction we are heading to. While it can generate poverty and inequality, it can also generate a better future for all of us.
Like in many other subjects, there is no immediate solution for the existent polarization.
The lack of interaction among opposite opinions lead us to the possibility of falling into extreme positons, losing sight of the bigger picture.
Consensus doesn’t mean that we all need to think the same way, but that the final result should be an encounter between different opinions, opinions that meet halfway. For that to happen, an imaginary space is needed, where we can all expose our issues and we can all hear each other.
It is also necessary to have criterions within our most basic procedures that serve as a common language. For instance, let’s imagine that animals in the middle of the jungle had to choose a pageant queen. The lion would choose the one with the biggest set of hair, the giraffe would choose the one with the longest neck, the zebra would choose the one who had the most amount of stripes and the bird would choose the one who could fly better. If a common ground isn’t settled, the competition can’t take place.
This practice generates conflict between different visions, an increase in the involved parts’ flexibility and an increase in the amount of possible solutions.
The defense of our planet, which implies big social, economic and political transformations as well as the implementation of sustainable development and equality, is a new type of idealism.
It has well rooted origins that can be tracked down to ancient indigenous populations or like when Ibsen wrote “an enemy of the people” in the 19th century.
Examples are sufficient. What we need is a new conscious.