The Kids Are Not Going to Be Alright: They're Going to Be Pissed

Several of my friends have had babies in the last few years, and some are on their second round already. Though it seems to me that there are far too many people on the planet already, it’s difficult to begrudge anyone the basic human drive to reproduce, and my friends’ kids ARE ridiculously cute. I’m pretty sure they are all genius artists who will invent the next version of rock ‘n roll and create world peace, too. But every time I play with them, surrounded as they typically are by plastic toys, educational videos and the other detritus of modern children’s lives, I look into their eyes and I know: in 20 years, they are going to hate us.

Of course all teenagers and college students hate their parents a little bit (or a lot, depending on the hormones), as it’s part of forging one’s own identity. Isn’t it the American way to hold your parents in contempt until you’re at least 25, and then become them?

But these kids are going to have good reason for their anger, and I predict a revolution when these tiny tots grow to understand the legacy their parents have left them. They will inherit a planet-wide environmental mess, and it might not be impossible to fix, but it’s going to take the best minds of their age (plus their offspring), lots of money, and a singular desperation to fix what’s wrong before it’s too late. What these kids face in the coming years will make the mistakes my generation has been left with: Rockefeller drug laws, repeated pointless wars in the Middle East, and lack of marriage rights for homosexuals, seem like quaint oopsies in comparison. They’ll be figuring out how to handle the planet-altering effects of massive droughts (hey, it’s already happening) and global warming has barely gotten underway), disintegration of ecological webs as species disappear during the current mass extinction, and human migration due to the effects of global warming, not to mention changes we can’t even foresee yet.

Well, you say, each generation has to pick up after the one prior to it in one way or another; what gives those kids in diapers more permission than anyone else to let us have it? The answer is that we know what we’re doing to the environment and we still continue to do it.

Not only that, but Americans use more resources than almost anyone else, so the bulk of blame falls on us. There is no reason anyone under 50 should choose not to recycle, yet most of the places I’ve worked don’t have a serious program to deal with office waste. We are all aware of how much CO2 is spewed into the atmosphere every time we fly (about ½ a ton for a domestic flight), yet we hop on last-minute getaway jaunts like they’re going out of style. I could go on, but we all know our eco-sins.

The truth is, faced with the information-packed movies The Eleventh Hour and An Inconvenient Truth, coupled with the constant natterings, warnings and protestations of hundreds of green bloggers like me and the mainstream media alike, (2007 was The Year of the Green for glossy mags), the environment still places near the bottom of the concerns of voters according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.

What to do? If you’re a parent, an aunt, uncle, godfather, stepmother, or any permutation of the above, or even hope to have kids one day, start thinking less about what piece of junk to buy the kids in your life, and start thinking about what your real legacy to them will be.

To get you started thinking about the issues, why not write a note to your sure-to-be-angry descendants, and tell them exactly what you did — or didn’t do — to try to give them a healthy, sustainable world. Check out The DeSmogBlog’s 100 Year Letter Project where the adults of today write to their heirs. Andrew Revkin, one of the top science/environment journalists for The New York Times, covered this ingenious combination of the personal with the global on DotEarth, the Times’ enviroblog and he got some great responses in the comments section.

Before you pop that tyke into the back seat of the new SUV you bought for “safety” reasons, or purchase that plastic learning cube for him in hopes it will eventually get him into Stanford, take a step back and think 50 years down the line, and what he will write to his grandchildren about you.

Originally published in The Huffington Post 

About Starre Vartan
Starre Vartan is editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life.


  1. People have been calling for the destruction of the world since there was a world to worry would be destroyed.

    Don’t get carried away.


  2. “The answer is that we know what we’re doing to the environment and we still continue to do it.” That is the answer to all human folly – the fact that we have the capacity for choice. We’ve exercised that choice stupidly and without compassion – whether in waging war against each other or against other species. We should have known better not to have slavery, but we did it. Now it looks stupid. We should have known better about segregation, but we did it. Now it looks stupid. Those things are, as you say, “oopsies” compared with our choice to ruin our only place in the cosmos and cause mass death, starvation, disease and degradation. Some time I hope we’ll talk about how we should have known better not to enslave animals, but that, as they say is another story.

  3. Michael … enslave animals. WTF are you talking about. I have bought my wife many furcoats by the way.

  4. Tyler Durden says:

    Let it burn. Only by losing the vast majority of our population can out piece of crap civilization be turned into something worthwhile.
    Imagine hunting elk on the forested Park Avenue as kudzu vines march up the face of the Metlife building. Imagine tanning leather to make long lasting clothing as we watch fancy dresses and tuxedoes rot and fall apart in the broken windows of Nordstroms. Imagine dancing on the fallen chunks of highway that litter the beautiful earth.

    It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

  5. Reduce your own carbon footprint by committing suicide. I mean clearly you don’t have children (if you did you would have a much different perspective). One of the greatest means of population control is warfare, that why mother nature makes males more violent because they are capable of producing so many more offspring. Whatever is going to happen will work its way out – maybe not in the next 3 generations but someday.
    Will my kids hate me in 20 years? Hell no, and it won’t be because of their Baby Einstein – they will remember the time we spent together and that I did my best.

  6. wrong. they’ll be pissed at us because they’ll see how we utterly destroyed our economy in the name of a fallacious “threat” to the Earth which was contrived by ecomarxists in order to increase the regulatory power of government over the lives of private individuals. they’ll be pissed at us because they won’t be able to choose what kind of cars to drive, what kind of houses to live in, etc. also, currency will probably be replaced by carbon credits.

    stop trying to destroy America with your anti-choice hate speech. you’ll appreciate it when this anthropogenic global warming lie blows over in a few years as the new sunspot cycle gets a few years to establish itself, and then the Earth starts a global cooling cycle just like it has done without fail for the last 10,000 years.

  7. also, your computer is consuming valuable electricity and nonrenewable energy resources. do your part to save planet Earth and please stop posting erroneous garbage on my interwebz.

  8. the kids/adults won’t be pissed off, they will be apathetic, just like some people are now and always will be…the EGO and arrogance seems to get the better of us and we/they will still want more stuff , maybe different stuff or different manners of living (is any of it “pure”?)…it seems there will always be the need to satisfy our selfish and egotistical existence, in whatever manifestation… YOUR kids and YOUR grandchildren….boo hoo.

    i have no hope for humanity, and sorry, but the planet would be better off without us. what good do we add to it?
    leave the earth to the animals and the plants and oceans to take the best care of it.

  9. i don’t know what’s dumber here, the blog or the comments.

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