"We have not inherited the earth from our grandparents, we have borrowed it from our grandchildren" [Kashmiri proverb]
The whole idea of this project is 'encapsulated' in Dr Christopher Guillebaud's song The Promise (in the video to the left). It was originally written in 2014 for the 20th anniversary of the 'Eco Time Capsule' Project. This is a re-recorded version for the 25th anniversary. You can play the latest version here and click here for words.
(c) Chris Guillebaud
It is more than 25 years since the environment Time capsule project began, based on the above saying, and everything that we felt the need to apologise about then remains a concern, only more so. We said in 1994:
"There is growing degradation of earth, water and air, the prospect of disruptive climate change, the destruction of natural systems, and the extinction of numberless species."
All the subsequent eco-related scientific research confirms those words, and therefore reinforces our original wish to apologise to our grandchildren who will be justifiably furious if by 2044 we have wrecked their “loan” to us. Indeed, climate change is no longer “a prospect”, it already poses a ghastly and truly existential threat - in this century - to all life on our finite planet. There is no Plan-et B. Chris says just that above in verse 3 of his song, The promise, and its chorus goes on:
"We have a world we've only borrowed from our children and their children yet to come
So let's keep our promise, so they'll wonder why we ever apologised."
We now have less than one generation left to keep that promise, first made in concluding both of the ‘main’ Letters in 1994 - numbered 1 and 2 here - addressed to our grandchildren. We pledged ourselves:
- to continue warning everyone who would listen and
- to respect the needs of our children and grandchildren in going about our daily lives ...to make our contribution to a saner, safer and sustainable world.
Our dream remains that - because humanity finally does all the right things, described elsewhere here, in time and at the necessary scale - when the people of 2044 dig up all the Eco-timecapsules, they will genuinely wonder why we apologised! OK, that’s sadly becoming unlikely; but as the Kew and Ness above-ground plaques read "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness".
More about the environment time capsule [Eco-TC] project, an ongoing initiative of Professor John Guillebaud (JG, physician and environmentalist) designed as an Apology to the future.
When and Who?
Back on World Environment Day in June 1994, with the support of leading personalities, including:
- Director of Kew Gardens, Professor Sir Ghillean Prance
- Sir Crispin Tickell, former UN Ambassador, Environmental Author & Speaker
- Susan Hampshire, Renowned Actress
- Lady Medawar, Chair of Margaret Pyke Trust & Wife of Sir Peter, Nobel Laureate
- The Lord Mayor of Kew & Richmond
- also some of the winners from among hundreds of schoolchildren who had entered a nation-wide competition for the best letters, poems and pictures and most suitable artefacts to be put in the Eco-TC.
As well as at Kew (situated by "The Hive"), similar Eco-TCs were also placed below ground in Ness Gardens (UK) and other botanic gardens around the world: in the Seychelles, at Mount Annan NSW Australia, in Pietermaritzburg South Africa, and 3 sites in Mexico.
Because that is just 50 years (i.e. two generations) from the start-year of the project, thereby addressing "all our grandchildren". The time-capsules are scheduled for opening on World Environment Day in June of that year.
What do they contain?
As well as all the letters, they hold environmentally-relevant objects of the day, both good and bad, with explanations attached. The 20th century artefacts at Kew for example were labelled BAD [eg some fossil fuel and a CFC aerosol] or GOOD [eg JG's own cycle pump and – explaining their equal relevance environmentally - a pack of contraceptive pills].
Image depicts the 2010 Brompton World Commuter Bicycle
Challenge race at Blenheim Palace, UK
How may this project help to make the world an environmentally safer place, for "our grandchildren"
Through following the links and exploring this site, especially The Promise which includes the best contributions from 1994 (pictures, letters, poems) by the children who will be around when the Eco-TCs are opened in 2044.
Please help us: to make a decent, truly sustainable future a reality for our grandchildren - also for all the wild species that humankind so threatens on land and in the oceans, through habitat destruction as well as catastrophic climate change....
Please consider downloading (to read at your leisure) The Eco-timecapsule - Population Matters - 2022. If you have a bit more time, listen to John's 14 minute podcast and view some highly relevant videos here. Medical and lay articles on the methods of contraception as a relevant intervention for the climate emergency and other environmental threats are also available. For even more information and suggestions for action, regularly updated, visit the website of Population Matters, of which John is Patron - along with Sir David Attenborough, Professor Paul Ehrlich, Dame Jane Goodall, Professor James Lovelock, Sir Jonathon Porritt and other prominent environmentalists.