Is it ethical to burden future generations with the environmental mess this generation created?
From a Jewish perspective, the answer is “No.” We’re constantly reminded about passing this world from generation to generation (dor l’dor). It’s almost inconceivable that we’d dump our mess on our children to pay for and clean up.
Torah and Talmud are packed with admonitions and commandments to take responsibility for our present actions, that we may guarantee clean relationships and a healthy world for future generations.
But recent Pew Research polling indicates that majorities of older “Boomers” and “Silents” resist acknowledging climate change, and taking actions to manage it.
Majorities of Millennials, Gen Xers and younger Boomers, on the other hand, are not only aware of the challenges, they want to handle them (Millennials are 18 to 30; GenXers are 31 to 46; Baby Boomers are 47 to 65; and Silents are 66+).
We set up an intergenerational conflict that’s impeding our progress toward solutions. As global population reached seven billion Oct. 31, 2011, global birth rates were actually declining. As fewer babies were born, more grown-ups were not dying, thanks to centuries of advances in nutrition, sanitation and medicine. Overall, the earth’s human population is getting older, facing three serious challenges:
1. Exponentially growing population is creating worldwide environmental crises;
2. Intergenerational friction is blocking movement toward solutions; and
3. Current theories and institutions are not designed to meet these challenges.