07/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Global Warming: How We Got Here and Why We Shouldn't Beat Ourselves Up About It


Photo: Carl Mydans/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Global warming, climate change: We've made a mess of things. But should we beat ourselves up about it? The fact is, the way we view the world is largely based on the situation a hundred odd years ago.

To Change the Future, We Need to Understand the Past
Our grandparents, our great-grandparents, they just didn't know any better. At that time, the world's population was a quarter of what it is now, resources felt infinite, and our tools were much less powerful. The oceans and forests seemed to go on forever...and it was easy to develop a cavalier attitude towards our resources..which we did.

Since then, our tools -- from cars, boats, and planes to farm machinery, fertilizers, and robots -- have grown much more powerful, and much more likely to make a mark on the world. Add to that four times as many people and the same general attitude towards our resources, and it's easy to understand why we are in this predicament now.

Before we can change, we need to understand where we went wrong. We need to see through our grandparents' lens first, this outdated lens we are still using, in order to toss it for the better, greener version.

Now, We are More Powerful
We are a lot of people, we have powerful tools and our economic systems tend to not include the real value of our priceless ecosystems into their cost. Things are not infinite. All of these things we encounter in day-to-day life have a limit.

Our task now is to fully appreciate the true rules on Spaceship Earth. We need to change our culture and therefore our systems so that we can build a world that will allow our species to live in balance with it. We weren't bad...we just thought we had different parameters.

Now it's time to re-think how we live. And I'm convinced we can do it.

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