The King said, “The third question is, how many seconds of time are there in eternity.” Then said the shepherd boy, “In Lower Pomerania is the Diamond Mountain, which is two miles and a half high, two miles and a half wide, and two miles and a half in depth; every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over.”
-The Shepherd’s Boy (Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Our Tiny Place in Eternity
The Universe is 13.8 billion years old. The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Life on Earth is 3.5 billion years old. The earliest record of human homo sapiens was carbon dated to 200,000 years ago. The first industrial revolution began 250 years ago.
This is a snapshot of our second in eternity.
In our second of eternity, we have done many things. We have built great feats that are to be marveled at. We have conquered the art of flight and intercontinental travel. We have waged wars. We have created vast empires and a civilization that spans the earth.
We have also managed to destroy our home in a shorter period of time than any event in the Earth’s history. 250 years ago our industrial revolution started and it needed fuel. It was a beast and it needed fuel to feed it. Today, industry and greed are destroying the place that we live.
We burned coal until the sky turned black. We cut down trees until we had enough paper to line our wallets with. We threw waste into the rivers until the water turned to acid. The world is burning. The problem is many people would be happy to count their money as they watch it turn to ash.
“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”
-Old Cree Indian Proverb
Our Responsibility as Citizens of the Earth
It is our responsibility to actually do something about climate change and the effects we are having on our home. I am 21 years old. My parents’ generation and my grandparents’ generation knew about climate change and looked the other way. They did nothing.
Our leaders and scientists knew about global warming and climate change in the 1960s. It became an increasingly public issue in the 70s and 80s. They did nothing. They decided it “wasn’t their problem.” Unfortunately, now it’s our generation’s problem because it is increasingly clear that the United States government has no interest in doing anything about it. They will do nothing.
If the government won’t protect us, The People have to step up to the plate. If you are reading this, it is likely you are already concerned with the condition of this earth. Many people don’t believe there is a problem with the climate. They choose to deny science and live in a fairytale. This article probably won’t change their minds.
They don’t believe the earth may be unhabitable by the end of the century, but people they know do. Our responsibility as citizens is to create a world for the generations to come. We should want our children and our grandchildren to have a world worth living in. If you don’t fully believe it yourself, believe it for them. They need somewhere to live after you are gone.
We need to make this our problem because we may not get another two generations to decide that it’s not. We don’t have another 60 years to debate and argue amongst ourselves. It will be too late. The science is there. The evidence is there. We are living unsustainably.
We Need to Build a Sustainable Tomorrow
Our reliance on fossil fuels needs to stop as soon as possible. Recently, the Trump Administration has rolled back many protections that kept the use of fossil fuels at bay. They have inserted open climate deniers into the Environmental Protection Agency. They have taken every action they could to cast doubt on science and climate change.
There is no progress possible with the Trump Administration in power. The Republican Party as a whole also takes up many of the same beliefs. They favor siding with large companies for some extra pocket money instead of protecting the environment.
I am being blunt but this issue can no longer afford the politeness of normal political discourse. If the Republican Party does not change its views on climate change, it will be the single most dangerous political organization in existence today. We can no longer afford the luxury of time.
A candidate or government official that refuses to take steps to remedy climate change is a threat. They must be removed from office. Achieving renewable, sustainable energy is not as difficult as the government may have you believe. Many countries are now taking quick steps away from fossil fuels.
We need to start the transition towards a completely sustainable future today. It is not only good for everyone, but it is financially viable as well. Today, clean energy materials and technologies are cheaper than they ever have been. Renewables are driving our energy sector with the single highest growth in 2018. In the meantime, fossil fuels are continuing to lag behind.
Trump can yell and tweet about jobs and “clean coal” as much as he would like. Saying something loudly doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, as President, Trump has the loudest voice out of anyone. In reality, jobs in renewables triple the number of jobs in fossil fuels.
Not only are we killing the planet, but we are also subsidizing a dying industry in favor of the few who want to keep it alive.
We, The People
It is now our job to save the planet. Our government, in its current form, has shown time after time that it has no interest in doing so. The earth is being destroyed by greed and we have to take it back ourselves.
Many states have defied federal policy and created their own climate resolutions. California is among one of those states. We must take steps to vote out anyone that doesn’t believe in proactive climate solutions. There is no room for them anymore in public office.
We need to stop thinking along party lines and think about what’s best for our future children, grandchildren, and the generations that come after. Republicans have been the party of denial, but Democrats have been complacent for years. They have been satisfied with global climate agreements that do little to help when the problem is urgent.
It has been much less than a second of eternity since our industrial revolution began. The little bird has come to sharpen its beak only twice on the diamond mountain.
In that time we have poisoned the air and the water. We have killed wildlife. We have cut down the forests. The ice caps are melting. Storms and floods are worsening. I could keep going. It is time to get over our own egos and stop taking. It is time to give back what we have stolen from our home.
Call your representatives. Vote people into office that will try to make the right decisions for future generations. Make other people aware of the threat that we are facing. We all have a part to play in a sustainable future. This sustainable future is the only option if we want to continue to thrive on Earth. The time for talking is over. It is time to act.
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