Our government laments the high levels of debt and deficit, and, like governments all around the world, talks often and long about the irresponsibility of leaving that debt for our children to pay.
Everything we do has a cost
Surely they are right. It is immoral and irresponsible to pass national debt onto the next generation and the generation after that – unless, of course, that debt was amassed building infrastructure future generations will benefit from.
Surely this principle is equally true, and perhaps more important, for the environment.
When we use a resource, that resource will not be available to our children or theirs. When we pollute a river, the clean river will no longer be available to future generations. If we kill the Great Barrier Reef, the beauty of that reef will not be seen by future generations. When we burn coal and warm the planet as a result, the temperate environments around the world will not be available to our children or theirs.
As we have more children and over-populate the world, there is less scope for our children to have large families. The more flights we take in oil-dependent planes, the less flights future generations will be able to take. Every animal that becomes extinct in our lifetime will not be seen by our children and theirs. Every plant that is killed off will not be available for future scientists to study as a possible cure for disease. Every satellite we put into space is the space junk of the future, limiting the number and nature of satellites future generations can put into the atmosphere.
And so it goes on and on.
Most things are finite. What we take can rarely be replaced. What we damage can often not be repaired. What we kill cannot be brought back to life. What we destroy will not be available to out children or their children.
Everything we do has a cost?
Do we have a right to inflict that cost on our children and their children?
I came across this poem a couple of years ago. It says it all.
Without a name; an unseen face
A wise friend introduced us two,
Knowing you has changed my thinking,
Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son
Begin I will to weigh the cost