Do We Owe Future Generations Anything?


Over at the environmenatist webzine Grist ("gloom and doom with a sense of humor"*) Bill Becker argues:

Intergenerational ethics argue against us leaving massive, intractable problems for future generations, forcing them to deal in perpetuity with nuclear wastes, carbon sequestration sites and geo-engineering systems — all subject to human error and to failures that would be deadly.

Really? Perhaps intergenerational ethics tells us that poor people (us) should not sacrfice their livelihoods, health and welfare for rich people (future generations). Reducing current incomes will certainly be deadly for some people now alive. 

Should people making an average of $7000 per year be forced to lower their incomes in order to boost the incomes of future generations that some scenarios project will have incomes in 2100 over $107,000 per capita in developed countries and over $66,000 in developing countries? Also keep in mind that not only will future generations be much richer, they will have access to better technologies with which to address any problems caused by man-made climate change, nuclear waste and geo-engineering projects. 

As bioethicists are always fond of saying, I'm just asking questions here.  

*Humor? Not so much.