I have a hypothesis: Ending slavery in the United States of America can be connected to the inevitable end of the world. Now that I have your attention, I will draw a distinct line from slavery the environmental crisis we are now faced with. Disclaimer: I do not blame the end of slavery with the world ending; only it started generations of people on a course toward the end.
A generation after slavery ended, arguably, the largest advancement in technology occurred, most refer this time as The Industrial Revolution. Innovation in industry and technology was needs for textile factories and farms to remain profitable after the free workforce of slaves was no longer viable. Unknown by the burgeoning economic strategy of trade, capitalism, and the global landscape was going to allow for competitors and winners. Although biofuel was available at the turn of the century, Rockefeller and others (who helped to create a world economy with the stock market) realized that they could make more money off oil than biofuel.
World War I, which was (at least partially) caused by the greed of commerce (Capitalism) and the feeling of unfairness in the distribution of wealth (Socialism) meant the need for industry. Tanks, airplanes, machine guns, all examples machines of death were created, in order to kill, crush, and destroy the enemy. After WWI a generation of livelihood, with lifelong jobs for most people working for the same company, the delight to not be at war, and the roaring ’20s. During this time there was little responsibility for actions, and thus the stock market crash of 1929. In an attempt to curtail irresponsible behaviors the government began to nearly impersonate fascist governments being seen globally. Eventually, due much to the leadership of FDR, the economic crisis was limited. During this time, much warning was ignored regarding things that were happening in Eastern Europe. This selfish and shortsightedness allowed the power of a corrupt government to take hold and thus, World War II. However, World War II meant an even larger economic upturn and after the end of the war, we had the baby boom generation.
The Baby Boom Generation still lived in an environment where they did not need to be burdened with the responsibility of their actions. The evidence of their spoils was not clear for years, even then it was obscured by the lack of understanding of how paramount the damage the Baby Boomers had done. Unfortunately, the damage was not only done to the environment and the global economy the Baby Boom Generation damaged their children by teaching them a lack of accountability and environmental irresponsibility.
It would be splendid to compliment this new generation by their progress toward civil rights; but being honest, the civil rights movement lost a lot of attention because their voices were silenced by the loss of its leaders. This generation, Generation X, advanced technology to race to the moon, maybe a greater advancement than the Industrial Revolution. The Space Age generation was also one that used a lot of drugs and thus didn’t bother with responsibility. Can you blame them, they saw the expense of their parents and, like children would do, pushed further than their parents. It wasn’t until the gas shortage that Americans began to see their damage to the environment was a problem. Litter in waterways, acid rain, smog, and wildfires are just a few examples of things that the irresponsibility of generations after the Industrial Revolution have begun to destroy the planet.
The New Generation, at least that’s what I remember it being called had parents who were aware of the damage. The Baby Boomers were not aware of the damage they were doing. The New Generation did. I grew up during this time. It was too easy to be appeased by technology. Color, cable and satellite TV, Nintendo, then the internet, it was so easy to ignore these issues. In fact, this technology grew to a point where mass media controlled the populace to the point where The Next Generation ignored the obvious abuse of the planet. The Next Generation only got worse. As technology got more intense the generations became more ignorant. As they were more ignorant they were less accountable.
At this point, “everyone gets a trophy” and we all need to walk on eggshells to not offend someone who we don’t even know about. The Millennials are more concerned with figuring a way to blame their failure on something or someone else than to work at learning from their mistakes and growing. Oh yes, at the same time worrying about themselves, they have only followed the generations before them and ignored the damage they continue to do with their floundering and wasteful ways. This lack of accountability makes the person feel good about themselves but does nothing to fix or even stop the bleeding of the world.
It took more than 30,000 years for the dinosaurs to be exterminated by the planet. They were a lot bigger and menacing than us, (they also took larger dumps than we, look into methane as a greenhouse gas). We have been burning coal for a few hundred years, and we have been burning oil for a bit more than 100 years; during this time we have created an environment where the environment will put an expiration tag on the human race and it will not be 30,000 years. Right now is the time for us to advance technology to heal the planet. The planet will not be forgiving and will hold us accountable. It doesn’t matter what your religion is your political affiliation is, your race is or your generation. Right now we all need to work together so that we can take a Generation Xers advice as he tried to influence the Next Generation and heal the world. Let’s begin planting trees and working toward solar and wind power for our personal homes. Let’s get on the phones, mail, and email and pressure our politicians to fund alternative power sources and move away from the damaging and finite resources. Don’t do this for the sake of your children or grandchildren; do it because it is the right thing to do, to be responsible for the planet we call home.