On the Hot Prospects of Future Generations

Yesterday I was out dog-walking with a young friend of mine, a post-graduate student in her mid-twenties, and she was expressing concern about the way the world was heading. We agreed that the COVID-19 epidemic was distracting everyone from the real problem the human race faces, which is the destruction of our environment through global warming.

She and her friends were concerned enough to question whether it was a good idea to bring children into a world that faces a future like the bleak one that seems possible.

There was little I could say to reassure her, because I am of a like mind, at least on the global warming issue.


Last night I recounted this discussion to my wife.

She said, “Oh. I had that conversation when I was her age.”

I asked her to explain.

Well, it turns out she had been talking to her long-time family doctor, worried about the possibilities of nuclear war and other issues of the day, and asking his opinion about the advisability of procreation.

His response?

Basically that every generation has the same fears, wondering if they can trust the next generation not to mess things up even worse than preceding generations have.

Which is rather reassuring, when you come to think of it. No matter how bad things look at any given time, it seems that the human race has the capacity to cope. I know that it may seem strange to young people today, but when I was growing up students in the United States had “duck and cover” drills where they hid under their desks to protect them in case of nuclear attack. Considering the nature of an atomic blast, I think even the less perceptive of them knew how useless such a precaution would be. I’m sure this led to a great deal of uncertainty about the future. But along came the future, and here we are. The hole in the ozone layer is apparently patched. Those who say, “Oh, but this threat is so much worse than those old ones,” seem to get proved wrong every time.

How About COVID?

Placed against the threat of the destruction of the environment we live in, a disease that might kill up to 5% of the human race is pretty small potatoes. Past experience shows us that when things get bad enough, people stop acting like selfish children and get serious about solving the problem. At the moment, I don’t think we have reached that state, nor are we likely to do so in North America until after the US election. Then we’ll see.

So Cheer Up

If anyone wants my opinion (and reading this far shows a willingness to be entertained, at least) I think far worse than COVID is yet to come, but that the human race will probably struggle through as it always has. From a procreational point of view, if the wise and intelligent members of our society don’t share their genes and their knowledge it could be a whole lot worse. After all, you could produce the next Dr. Banting or Dr. Salk. And there’s no better motivation for social change than the protection of your own children.

So, go forth, my children, and multiply. Well, maybe not multiply. How about just add?

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