The 2014 International Emerging Leaders Conference is centered around global environmental issues. Wednesday morning, the delegates got the chance to listen to Professor Noah Sachs discuss the philosophy and discord concerning environmental law in terms of what we, collectively, owe future generations. Sachs is the Director of the Robert R. Merhige Jr. Center for Environmental Studies at the University of Richmond.
In order to illustrate the arguments taking place among environmentalists and politicians, Sachs used an example of two men stranded on an island. One man would live alone on the island for the first thirty years, attempting to survive with one freshwater lake and limited palm trees with fruit, knowing that a second man would be living on the island after him for the next thirty years. The argument consisted of whether or not the first man should use the resources for his own survival, use the resources to develop on the island, or preserve the resources for the next man (potentially sacrificing his own well being).
This example directly relates to the global question of how the current generation should use or conserve the world’s natural resources for future generations.
So, is it our responsibility to preserve the natural resources we have, or should we use those resources to progress current and future economic prosperity?