When I was looking after my grandchildren the other day my grandson came across an iPad. He immediately switched it on and started swiping the screen. I am sure that this behaviour is regularly repeated in homes across the world but what makes this a bit different is that he is only 14 months old! I assume he had seen his older sisters doing this and knew what an iPad was for and how to use it.

The event led me to speculate on his future and the very different lifestyle he could lead. By the time he is an adult we will probably have solved the problem of getting to Mars, or be well on the way to getting there. He could well choose to be involved in that. I can only hope that this may be a choice for him and that we haven’t wrecked the earth so much that those coming after us have no choice but to seek a more comparently friendly environment in which to live.

We tend to leave choices about managing our environment to governments, forgetting that there are so many of us on this planet that governments have to make the big choices but any decisions we are able to make collectively will have an equal effect. A friend pointed out today that she had enough to live on comfortably but this raises the question of what ‘comfortably’ means. For many people in poorer parts of the world what we mean by this expression, to them would be defined as luxury. We tend to take for granted that having enough to feed ourselves on, having adequate shelter (frequently above ‘adequate’) and be suitably clothed is what we define as enough but so many others who share this planet with us are lacking in at least one of these areas. Should we be more willing to restrict ourselves to ‘comfortably’ and thus save the extra strain on the planet our living more than comfortably creates? Where should we direct our ‘surplus’ in order to create maximum effect?

These are the debates we should be having to preserve our planet to make it habitable, and comfortably so, for those who come after us. I’m sure that I and other grandparents would hate to think that we had lived our lives so selfishly, going beyond ‘comfortably’, that the planet we left behind wasn’t suitable for our precious grandchildren. I believe the time has come to be having these debates, changing our ambitions, and recognising our collective responsibility.