Are We Responsible Caretakers of this Planet?


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Are We Responsible Caretakers of this Planet?

I am inclined to think that each human generation must consider itself as the steward of the earth and therefore must make available to the succeeding generations an inheritance undiminished to that received.

In this context what does "careful and responsible management" mean? I would say that there are two things that must be begun to make the whole process feasible. The first is that the public must be convinced that it is a responsible caretaker and not an owner and secondly the public must be provided with an acceptable standard whereby it can judge how each major issue affects the accomplishment of the overall task. This is an ongoing forever responsibility for every nation but for the purpose of discussion I am going to speak about it as localized to the US.

Selfishness and greed are fundamental components of human nature as we squander ours and all succeeding generations’ inheritance. How does a nation convince its people to temper this nature when the payoff goes not to the generation presently in charge but to generations yet to come in the very distant future? Generations too far removed to be encompassed by the evolved biological impulse to care for ones kin.

How is it possible to convince a man or woman to have the same concern for a generation five times removed as that man or woman has for their own progeny? I suspect it is not possible, but it does seem to me to be necessary to accomplish the task of stewardship.

Would it be possible to convince the American people to reject completely the use of air-conditioning so that generations five times removed could survive? Is it possible to create in a person a rational response strong enough to overcome the evolved nature of greed and selfishness? I cannot imagine any rational motivation of sufficient strength to divert the natural instincts of an unsophisticated people for an extended time. Therefore, the motivation force must be emotionally based or the people must become more sophisticated quickly.

Perhaps a compelling sense of stewardship must come through religion. Rationality appears to be insufficient for creating a compulsion to sacrifice immediate gratification for such remote ends.

Are you a good steward of this planet?