In the midst of the talks on climate change in Copenhagen I’d like to take a moment to address this critical issue. The article below was written by friend, social-activist and author Liz Armstrong. It captures much of what I have been thinking lately for her story parallels my own in many ways. I too am ashamed of my actions or non-actions as part of the Boomer generation.

We have an ever narrowing window of opportunity to take action… not just the Boomers but all of us. This issue is so critical and important to me that it trumps any thoughts of trait or personality distinctions that I have at this moment. I hope you are inspired to make your voice heard with the politicians in your area. This is not a Canadian issue. It is a human existence issue.

Boomers – let’s step up big-time on climate change
An Inconvenient Fishwife hollers for a stable climate & sustainable future

By Liz Armstrong
Erin, Ontario

Here’s a headline for the ages: A privileged generation chose to roll the dice on its children’s future. That one stopped me cold. It appeared in much too small type – it should have been 3 inches high – in a major Canadian newspaper the day after the Copenhagen climate talks began.

The writer was referring to – who else? – the Boomers, my generation, that huge surge of tens of millions of babies born into post-war prosperity between 1946 and 1964. Then came the crux of the matter: “After inheriting wealth, knowledge and health, after being spared the horrors of world wars and a great depression, history’s most privileged cohorts are rolling the dice on someone else’s future.”

With dire evidence of global warming mounting daily, we Boomers are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the most beloved of all, our children and grandchildren.
Ask any parent or grandparent what is most important in their lives, and they will (nearly) always say: our kids and grandkids.

I don’t have children of my own (nieces and nephews, yes – this is for them) but over the years, I’ve heard brand new mothers and fathers – spellbound by the tiny miracle cradled in their arms – declare they would do anything to keep this precious life out of harm’s way. They would take up weapons, empty their bank accounts, throw themselves in front of a speeding train to push this child to safety…

…But apparently would not – especially not as we get older – slash carbon footprints to the bone so these same kids can have a viable future. Or, right now, in late 2009, fill the streets protesting Canada’s disgraceful lack of climate action in Copenhagen. Or demand – relentlessly – that our elected representatives do everything in their power – and then more – to slow down and finally drag the juggernaut of global warming to a halt. Maybe the answer is much simpler: to yell like a fishwife until something shifts noticeably for the better. (That was my own mother’s prescription for activism, and probably not such a bad strategy as I look back – and ahead.) Whatever it takes…

I am ashamed of me and my generation, the Boomers. Most of us got addicted to the bloated, fossil-fueled lifestyles that are now putting so much of life on Earth in jeopardy. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and largest environmental network, reports that nearly a third of amphibians, one in eight birds and 25% of mammals are threatened with extinction, mainly from habitat destruction to satisfy voracious consumer appetites, but increasingly from climate change.

We Boomers are reluctant to take responsibility for what has happened on our watch, even as the scientific evidence of ‘coming’ climate change – now rearing its ugly head in real time in many parts of the world including the Canada’s Arctic – steadily mounted over the past three decades, and especially since the year 2000.

We’re still way too willing to allow the climate change deniers, many of them richly financed by the oil, coal and gas industries, to conveniently freeze our worries – and potential action – into false hope that what’s happening is just an overblown hoax or a natural weather cycle. We’re apparently content to let ‘someone else’ solve the mess – what choice will younger generations have? – shrugging it off with “What can I possibly do anyway?” Or, the trump card, blame the politicians – then get right back to our Wii games.

For three years in the early 1970s I was a grade 8 teacher in downtown Toronto. These days I’m spending some spare time in classrooms in the village of Erin, the small, friendly southwestern Ontario town where I now live, talking to students about global warming, greenhouses gases, and how their school lunch choices can ‘take a bite out of climate change.’ (Food and agriculture account for over 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s not a bad place to start with kids too young to drive a SUV or buy one of those 4,000 square foot estate homes that seem to be springing up everywhere). But I have a hard time looking these kids straight in the eye. Why? Because they trust adults implicitly, and would be utterly shattered to know that so many of us are sitting on our hands, not acting with urgency essential to their future well-being. Worse, being utterly silent about it.
Can we redeem ourselves? Will we stand up and be counted for the massive change that must happen so that generations following us have a reasonably decent future on the only planet we’ve got?

Or maybe it’s already too late? (That’s another excuse to act helpless, by the way, then tune into the latest ‘reality’ TV show.) My friend and colleague Guy Dauncey, the author of the inspiring new book, The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, says, no, it’s not too late to prevent runaway global warming if we start now and dig into the abundance of solutions that already exist. Guy, for one – and there are others, thankfully – knows there is a golden opportunity for humanity inside this alarming climate crisis, and his book shines the light toward this healthy, sustainable, energy-secure future.

The choice is ours: whether we act boldly, or not; whether we succeed in limiting the damage of climate change, or not. So much can turn on this one mega-generation’s decision to break its silence – and perhaps take a proud place in history.

C’mon Boomers, let’s step up now. (PS. Lots of other fishwives welcome. Fish husbands too.)

Category: Personal
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