Most of us were already alive when humanity went into overshoot and (sometime in the late 80’s) began using up the planet faster than the planet could replenish itself. And many of us will still be alive, when, by mid-century at the latest, we have returned again to being a sustainable, one-planet civilization.
Of course, we may prove ourselves to be an evil and criminally shortsighted generation. We may melt the ‘caps, log the Congo, burn the Amazon, slushie the tundra, acidify the ocean, drive half of all life into extinction and needlessly cause the deaths of billions of our fellow human beings. But I don’t think we will. I think enough of us are better than that, braver than that and bolder than that.
Which means that we have to stop pussy-footing around and speak plainly: our goal is to have zero impact within our lifetimes. Our goal is to provide reasonable affluence and high qualities of life for everyone of the planet, while reducing our CO2 emissions, toxic releases, ecosystem impacts and resource draw-downs to essentially nothing, because anything more than zero is wrong.
(Via WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future)
You can watch a 2005 talk by Alex Steffen on TED.