Thoughts on the global climate strike: What do we owe to future generations?


Cartoon by Annie Wheeler.

Stuart Lombard

On Friday, students and faculty took to the quad in support of the Earth. While the multigenerational speakers spoke, it became very apparent that the main idea of the event was this: the older generation has failed us, and now it is up to our generation to protect the environment for the next.
Do we owe anything to future generations? At the climate strike participants listened to students, faculty and the children of faculty. At least three generations were represented on the stage. When the children spoke, everyone listened.
A bad example is being set for our generation. Lawmakers in Washington are failing to come to a consensus on what to do about climate change. Their land is burning and their people are suffering, yet they do nothing. What are we going to do differently? Will the children one day look at us and say we did not do anything; that pride and greed clouded our vision? I hope not.
At Augustana, we have the joy of residing on one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation. We are connected with this land. We are stewards of this place.
If you are of the Christian faith, then you may be familiar with a verse from Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” God calls his people to be good stewards of the Earth. But who do we owe it to? What does it matter to us if some coastal people on the other side of the planet are displaced by rising sea tides?
We should acknowledge that we are privileged enough to make choices about where we live, what food we eat. We can choose whether or not to care about the environment.
The world is on fire. The amazon continues to burn. West coast wildfires, fueled by drought, continue to worsen each year. Not to mention the heat waves and hurricanes which have increased in frequency and intensity. But we only see the fires and the hurricanes in the news. For many of us, the problem is not in our backyard — not yet.
This is something to lose sleep over. Our air conditioning may keep us comfortable, but we should not be. We owe it to ourselves; we owe it to future generations.
At the strike, I talked with a couple students who said that Augustana does a lot to promote sustainability, and that it can do a lot more to reduce its footprint.
One way the school can do better is to provide more recycling bins. From experience, I know people here truly care about the planet and want to do their part. But sometimes it is not easy to do so. This leaves open the possibility for action.
Small ways that Augustana students and staff are working to preserve the planet include volunteering for Campus Kicthen and Augie Acres.
At the strike, the children told a story about a forest fire. A small hummingbird would fly down to the river and pick up a single drop of water to drop onto the fire. The larger animals told the hummingbird that it was insignificant, but they would not help the hummingbird to put out the fire. Be a hummingbird and show the bigger animals that you can make a difference. We are strong – we are many.