The Berlin Wall vs. Al Gore

Do you ever think about the future for our planet? What the next generation of business and government leaders will do to make it a sustainable world? I do, and there is one thing that makes me feel a measure of confidence for our future – let me try to make sense of it.

When I was growing up in the 80’s in New York, at home or at college, our conversations often turned to World news. We always ended up talking about the Cold War. Even if you were talking about the Olympics it came back to the cold war — like the U.S. boycott of the Moscow games in 1980 (get this, because the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan).

It really was an incredibly tense time when the entire world was watching the battle between communism and democracy. The arms race escalated and over 77,000 nuclear weapons were built around the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction. Finally the people, communists and democrats alike, made our voice heard: stop the madness before it is too late. On November 9th 1989 the Berlin Wall came down; East Germans and the World celebrated that the tide had turned.

OK, now fast forward almost 20 years to the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Love it or hate it (or him for that matter), it doesn’t make much difference. The conversation about the environment, and human’s impact on it, was now on everyone’s mind. Today’s college students grew up hearing the debate at the dinner table, in school and on TV. Like the Cold War, the topic is still pretty heady – the survival of the planet and our race. There will always be people on both sides of the “wall,” but the tide is turning again.

The younger generation of America is making their voice heard once more – stop the madness before it’s too late. So, with that in mind I link back to my initial comment: I feel confident today’s youth will help change the world, and do it quickly.

Check out this great video from St. Joseph’s University where students define what sustainability is. SJU has two student organizations on campus to promote sustainability. The first is GREENCOW (Get Ready for Environmental Education Now/Conserve Our Wildlife) which focuses on environmental issues. The second is the SJU SustainAbility club whose goal is to increase awareness among students about sustainability and related issues.

Congratulations to the students for taking the initiative – it really tells me that environmental issues are part of the next generations DNA. They’re not exactly sure what to do about it yet, but they’re going to drive change.