Environmental Hypocrisy and Future Generations
With global warming being undeniable we can see that damage has been done to our environment. There are various movements, groups, individuals etc. who try to protect the environment and make things better for "future generations". However, if we are really honest with ourselves we need to admit that no generation has ever really been interested in future generations, despite the rhetoric. All generations have immediate needs for a relatively comfortable life, and no one is really willing to give up their own comfort during their lifetime in hopes that future generations will live better. There is no way of knowing how our behaviors will effect future generations exactly in either a good or bad way.
It is hard to get individuals, societies, governments and corporations to cut back on polluting the environment if that will take away from their own comfort, economic growth, production rates and so on. People are inherently selfish, so we should not be surprised if governments and corporations are the same, as they are made up of people as well, obviously. Sure, trying to help the environment is important for us in the here and now. However, the generations before us didn't really bother about keeping the environment in tact. If they would have, then America would not have become the strongest economy and biggest manufacturing country in the world in the 1950s and 1960s. It is not surprising that China refuses to curb its industrial output, as that is raising millions out of poverty for the first time in history. Let's no forget that they produce goods for the whole world, and it is American and other Western companies that take advantage of China's lax attitude towards the environment to produce their products more cheaply.
The environment will only be truly protected if it would have no monetary effect on people, governments and corporations. The advent of fracking in the US to get at oil reserves also shows how much more important cheap oil is than the environment in the here and now, and especially in today's economic reality. People who finally get a job due to the fracking industry will not think twice about the environment or water safety once they start getting a paycheck.
Future generations are always important in theory, but in reality they are just extensions of the generations before them. Immediate concerns will always win out over some horror stories of future environmental disaster. It might even be too late now to do much. The considerable climate changes and storms that we are seeing are the result of decades of pollution as well as natural cyclical changes. Environmental decay may even be unstoppable.
Extreme hurricanes, droughts, heat, tornadoes etc. have already begun and will likely continue, claiming more and more victims every year and having huge economic consequences. This is not simply a question of this generation, or that generation. It has built up over decades and is not likely to change in any positive way for a very long time.