We Do Not Inherit The Earth

We Do Not Inherit The Earth
photo © Romolo Tavani | Fotolia

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

This famous quote is attributed to Native American sages of the old days. It’s a reminder that our actions have long term consequences and that these will not only influence our lifetimes but will affect those who come after us. It’s our responsibility to “pay into” that account rather than continue to draw from it.

This saying is also in a similar vein to the famous belief that our actions will influence the next seven generations. It encourages us to resist “short-termism” and to consider far into the future what the effects of our choices and acts will be.

In 2009, the biggest single report on the future of the planet served us a warning to humanity. Back by Unesco, the World Bank, the US Army, and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 6,700 pages draws the conclusion that “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of the civilisation will collapse.”

With the contributions of 2,700 experts worldwide, the report focuses on the dire effects of the global recession to the future of mankind. Researchers warn that global clean energy, food availability, poverty, and the growth of democracy worldwide will grow worse in the face of global recession. The emerging environmental security issues produced by climate change are also brought into attention, as “changes in weather patterns to loss of livelihood and disappearing states—has unprecedented implications for political and social stability.” Despite the grim vision of shortages and violence, it serves as a wake-up call to humanity “to move from its often selfish, self-centered adolescence to a more globally responsible adulthood.”

To quote Bertrand Russell: “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” But in the 2014 article by Robert Savio, founder and president of the Inter Press Service, he expressed frustration on the unwillingness of some countries to invest in clean energy. Despite IPCC’s conclusive report that climate change is due to the action of man, to compromise is far too costly and unpractical for some. To paraphrase Savio, governments are still unable or unwilling to consider the future of mankind despite the evident threats of climate change.

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