Paying for our excesses

Happy New Year, I suppose.

I hate to end 2018 on a sour note, but somebody has to say it. 

Actually, Bruce Gibney said it best in his book “A Generation of Sociopaths. How the Boomers Betrayed America”:

“The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it. They habitually cut their own taxes and borrow money without any concern for future burdens. They’ve spent virtually all our money and assets on themselves and in the process have left a financial disaster for their children.”

Looking ahead into 2019 and beyond:

In sheer economic terms, my children will not be able to afford the auto-American world we have built for them. They won’t be able to afford the subdivisions and cul de sac living out in the suburbs and exurbs. They won’t be able to afford maintenance on the road systems we have built to connect suburban homes with urban jobs. They won’t be able to afford the rising cost of urban housing because so many people have decided that living “out there” is a dead end. 

It gets worse. They won’t be able to afford the cost of remediation all of the bad water and the bad air we have created in our mindless pursuit of the American Dream. 

There is no “fire season” in California anymore. We have built in the forests and amid the scrub and we have altered the climate to the point that dry forests and dry scrublands are going to incinerate more or less continually. They won’t be able to pay the price for ridding the oceans – or the food chain for that matter – of all the plastic we have dumped into our world. And we continue to dump. 

They won’t be able to afford the stronger, wetter and more destructive hurricanes or the rising sea levels. We are fishing out the oceans so not much more affordable sea food. Climate migration really is a thing, and we won’t be able to build a wall high enough to keep the refugees out. Neither will Canada when it realizes that their climate refugees are going to come from the U.S.

We may be able to afford to exploit the melting polar ice cap – the famed Northwest Passage – in order to drill for still more oil and gas. So our carbon and methane emissions will continue apace. But future generations will ultimately pay a heavy bill for our excesses.

There is no escaping the really bad consequences that the Great Acceleration Generation has bequeathed to their kids and to successive generations. 

We could have chosen wise ways to downsize our earth-killing lifestyles but of course we have done the opposite. The whole concept of sustainability is too little, too late now. And if I were not 70 years old and surly living out my last years I suppose I would feel more than guilt about what we have wrought. I’d be feeling pure panic. 

There is no overstating this. My children, Jenny and Andrew, and their peers, will not be living the lifestyles they may have grown accustomed to in their childhoods. We needed more stuff and we wanted to pay less for it. And that economics of it won’t work for much longer.

Oh yes, Trump gave us tax cuts….and a soaring deficit. Who believes that won’t blow up in our faces? 

Oh what a Brave New World that has such people in it. We are the first species in the history of the Earth that is deliberately exhausting the very “carrying capacity” that has allowed us our excesses. So far.

Our kids won’t be building monuments to us. They will end up cursing our memories. 

Author: floridavelocipede

A sometime journalist who used to string words together for a living before I retired to run a non-profit cycle touring organization that will henceforth go unnamed, as I have subsequently retired from that career as well. I write a bi-monthly column, theater reviews and an occasional magazine piece for my old newspaper. If I still had a business card it would read: Ron Cunningham: Trained Observer Of The Human Condition. Because like The Donald, you know, ego.

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