Sustainability as an intergenerational project


in Bombs and rockets, Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

I think this quotation from Richard Feynman is rather wonderful:

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.

It would be a splendid thing for humanity to have tens of thousands more years of history. In order to accomplish that, however, we need to find ways to keep from snuffing ourselves out, or pushing ourselves back down below the level of ‘civilization.’

Accomplishing that seems to require a process similar to the one Feynman outlines for scientific advancement. We must learn what we can about truly sustainable human societies, implement that knowledge, and then pass along that combination of learning and physical achievements to be carried forward by those who will come after.

I can’t help feeling that if Feynman was still alive, our societal discussion about climate change would be a bit more sophisticated and productive.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pearl May 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I ♥ Feynman

Milan May 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Given the books of his I have read and what I have read about him, I feel like I know Richard Feynman to some extent.

That makes it seem especially odd that he died when I was 5 years old. That said, it shows a little slice of the extreme value from written history. It vastly opens up the scope of what we can be personally familiar with.

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