I’ve been actively thinking about sustainability for at least 2 years now, and the challenges that we are facing do not seem much easier. I’m currently writing a paper on sustainability right now and came across this quote:
“The guiding principle of environmentalism is self-sacrifice: the sacrifice of longer lives, healthier lives, more prosperous lives, more enjoyable lives, i.e., the sacrifice of human lives. But an individual is not born in servitude. He has a moral right to live his own life for his own sake. He has no duty to sacrifice it to the needs of others and certainly not to the “needs” of the non-human.” –Michael S. Berliner, Ph.D., Ayn Rand Institute
The notion of “sacrifice” for the environment seems to be a common one. But is it really? How is being environmentally friendly a sacrifice of healthy lives? Enjoyable lives? We all know that materialism does not lead to lasting happiness. And we know that we cannot live without the resources that nature provides.
Individuals have a moral right to live his own life for his own sake – so why take away the rights of our future generations.
Individuals are not born in servitude – so why subject ourselves to the availability of resources?
We shouldn’t care about the needs of non-human? So should all non-humans care about our needs? Why is this always works one way but not the other?
So I struggle with this a lot. Should I care? Should I try to make people care? I also run into this problem:
“Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?
— Groucho Marx
You know..I really can just not care and no one will probably notice. But there is this tingling calling within me that tells me that I’m doing the right thing. Many people may disagree–as evidenced by the quotes above–with my belief, but I personally cannot neglect my impact on this planet.
Sure, it does take some effort to live sustainably. Sure, we won’t really get anything in return (apart from avoiding the damage that we may face towards the end of our lifetime). Sure, this is damn hard to do consistently.
So should we really care?
The answer–I hope–is yes. The reasons are manifold – some based on reason, some based on our intrinsic nature. I cannot find you one, because it all is based on your place on this planet, which is yours to realize.
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
— Walt Kelly