Do Future Generations Need Protecting from Ourselves?

Julien Harneis/CC BY-SA 2.0

Despite the slow, painfully inadequate political efforts to address climate change, we know that people are dying right now because of the pollution we continue to emit. But if it's nearly impossible to get action to save lives today, then how the heck to we address the rights of those who are not yet born? Intergenerational justice is a topic that James Hansen touched on in his TreeHugger radio interview. Now Damian Carrington over at The Guardian reports on proposals to safeguard the basic rights of future generations:

It's a new year, so let's start with a new idea: a democratic body to safeguard the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people.

That is the proposal of Rupert Read, a philosopher at the University of East Anglia, in a report called Guardians of the Future for the think tank Green House. The core idea is both radical and straightforward: a council of "Guardians of Future Generations", chosen like a jury from the general public, would sit above the existing law-making bodies and have two core powers. A power to veto legislation that threatened the basic needs and interests of future people and the power to force a review, following suitable public petition, of any existing legislation that threatens the interests of future people.

What do we think—a sensible safeguard or an utopian pipe dream?

Tags: Activism | Global Climate Change | United Kingdom

Best of TreeHugger