The Millennial Manifesto




The future is bleak. Millennials and younger generations who will inherit a planet low in natural resources and afflicted with extreme weather – offences perpetrated by past generations who left the burden to be borne by others.

Last year, climate scientists warned that there were only 12 years left to address recurrent and intense heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels and loss of low-lying coastal areas. People living in developed countries, as they usually do, may suffer less from the effects of global warming, but they too will find the world far less habitable than any time in the last millennia.

It is not the only ticking time bomb that past generations are leaving. They have bequeathed a planet with less plants, animals, clean water, energy and food to their inheritors.

It gets worse. Millennials and their successors will find multilateral legal, financial and political institutions weaker than they have been since the Second World War. Nationalism is on the rise across the world, partisanship is intensifying, and global trade is decreasing.

In such a confused and delicate global world order, artificial intelligence (AI) and gene editing are progressing, even though we do not understand them or possess an evolved ethical and moral understanding to deal with them effectively. We also retain most of our nuclear weapons.

In a world where resources are decreasing, the human population is increasing, consensus and principle are waning, and technological advances in weapons and misinformation is growing by leaps and bounds, what could go wrong?

Millennials are not a generation of entitlement but have grown old enough to recognise that their future is being stolen from them. Unlike in the past, it is not clear whether this generation and its younger replacement will have a chance to address these problems and have a say in political and economic institutions.

Even the Cold War did not put the world in as precarious a position as has the confusion we witness today. They had hydrogen bombs to worry about but were not faced with AI, gene editing, global warming and resource depletion. The existential threats facing the human species has only multiplied, and it would take few clumsy steps for the delicate balance to crumble.

Indeed, some would come out the worse for wear. Developing countries will most likely suffer the most. Ethiopia will see its resources stressed owing to overpopulation and droughts, and its institutions and social foundations buckling under the weight of technological advances that will wear out current identities and beliefs.

These will not be confined to developing countries but wealthy nations will – perhaps less intensely – also suffer from a future that is bleaker than any before.

This chaos, unlike most that have visited the Earth, will cut across racial, ethnic, religious, national and gender lines but – given that it will peak in decades – not generational ones.

This makes it ideal for use as a basis for political organisation. It can be a movement that can ground itself in everyday facts and find support among most members of the young generation, except those that are inclined to deny reality.

Indeed, it should not be exclusive to other age groups. But that a political organisation that strictly concerns itself with the future of humanity will find its most robust support with young people should be well understood. As the revolutions and movements of the past have shown us, an issue needs to be personal and emotional before it can successfully be political, however logical and crucial it may be.

The goal should be to get as many young people in a position of power as soon as possible around the world. There is not much time left to act before a point of no return is reached. We cannot wait, since the older generation does not seem to be paying attention or acting on matters that will affect future citizens.

We cannot delay until we get older and then complain, as we do now. Or we can organise, draw up a program and fight for the habitable, democratic and morally mature world we are entitled to.

 



By Christian Tesfaye
Christian Tesfaye (christian.tesfaye@addisfortune.net) is Fortune’sOp-Ed Editor whose interests run amok in the directions of both print and audiovisual storytelling.

Published on Feb 01,2019 [ Vol 19 ,No 979]


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