Future generations do not have a vote in political decisions today and we deal with these decisions as presentist for whom only the present time excists. But even if we act as presentists most of us know and hope our children’s generation and generations after them will try to inhabit this earth and try to make a living here whatever shape the planet is in. The generations after us are totally dependent on the decisions we make today. They affect them much more than they affect us.
We are the once who select those who come to power today – future voters have no to say. Since politicians are strongly affected by the opinions which are most popular right now – because they want to win elections – many are pragmatic and choose a populist path. Popular opinins concerning the environment are more often than not the once which effect our daily lives the least. The same is the case regarding prices of the non-renewable resources; they are often made without thinking about long-term effects.
“Our democracy today is in its teens”
Says philosopher Gustaf Arrhenius in a very interesting radio program - Filosofiska rummet on Swedish national radio under the title What we as individuals should do concerning the climate change. In a way we have a democracy (teen) problem and that is why we need a pubic debate concerning these issues, which hopefully can lead to a better informed public which in turn might lead to decisions that take future generation’s wellbeing into consideration.
We could therefore promote that part of democracy rather than a more shortsighted democracy. Historian Sverker Sörlin compares our robbing of future generation’s resources to colonialism. We are stealing from future continents, as we have been stealing from many continents during many centuries.
Democracy can aso be seen as a collective learning process and we could discuss this and try to include future generations in the discussion. It could be a way in which we can refine democracy! But that can only be accomplished if politicians sometimes dare to offend people in power and large corporations (which support their campaigns).
He also suggests that we would have “stand ins” who act as a representatives from coming generations in all political decisions, as some native American tribes had had, or an ombudsman for coming generations! Very interesting suggestions to me!