It is April 15th, 2018, the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit here this early morning as I write. Just a few days ago we had temperatures in the 90s and winds pushing over 30 miles per hour in the middle of the night. Sustained winds in the 20+ mile per hour range for hours on end day and night rattled the nerves and the second floors of homes.
Multiple peer-reviewed studies announced through publication that the Atlantic Ocean circulation is slowing down and NASA revealed a 5-minute virtual tour of the moon in 4K. I could go on forever about the extremes of our world today regarding politics, science, religion, and weather, but one need only turn to the front page of just about any newspaper (online or on paper) to understand the times we have moved into. Watching the environmental shifts here over decades and the subsequent effects on both flora and fauna, it becomes clear that the increase in graffiti on the train cars entering and leaving Ft. Worth, Texas, and that etched inside public restrooms around this part of North Texas, as well as changes to the number of bluebonnets in the fields over the last half decade are reflective of shifting climates, weather related and otherwise.
Life can seem prone to dramatic shifts in a single human lifetime because we tend to be popularly centered on our own lifetime goals. What is dramatic, large, and overwhelming to a twenty something takes on a different meaning late in human life. Live long enough and read enough history and you learn a lot of the arguments and reports that appear new on the front page are the same arguments that have been had time and time again, generation after generation. A quick glance at some of the wit of Will Rogers’ political commentary about the politics of his generation will tell you something about what hasn’t changed in our own times (as well as what has). It seems to me, the focus within societies worldwide shouldn’t necessarily be on what can be accomplished in a single lifetime, or who said what about who in the daily news, as much as what it is being worked towards, as in what are we doing today for generations yet to come?
What can you achieve in your lifetime tends to be the battlecry and it leaves me wondering what could be achieved if we could think about projects popularly on the scale of multiple lifetimes. What if we were building towards something hundreds of years from now, or thousands of years from now consciously? What would a society look like whose primary focus wasn’t day to day operations? What would our missions in space be like if the craft we were building and launching today were designed to be operated and monitored across multiple lifetimes without the interference of electoral processes that direct funding this way and that?
What if our housing, transportation, food supplies: what if our resource utilization weren’t so concentrated on the now but were about where we as civilizations (or even better as a species) wanted our descendants to be a thousand years from now? Would the oceans be so filled with plastics, the air so filled with pollution? What kind of water supply are we presently leaving for those who will be here in a mere hundred years from now? What does the impact of 7+ billion humans’ resource use look like in only 50 years time?
It is easy to lose sight of tomorrow when only concerned about today.