What are you doing to lessen the effects of climate change?
BY PAUL SEVERANCE
Elders Climate Action was formed a year and a half ago to bring the voices of elders to bear on what scientists agree is the greatest threat to life on Earth in human history: climate change. We came together sharing two convictions:
A conviction that elders have the perspective and wisdom to see that the political gridlock over climate change is absurd – and fueled by the money and influence of the fossil fuel industry. The science is clear: The well-being of the generations of our grandchildren and beyond is deeply threatened by our spewing greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere and warming the planet as a result.
A conviction that elders could be a powerful force in breaking that political gridlock. When we unite around our concern for future generations, we can have immense clout: Our numbers are growing and growing. We vote in higher percentages than other age groups. We are deeply concerned about our legacy; we have the long-term perspective to make future generations a top priority; and we know that we have a responsibility to speak out on their behalf!
With age comes wisdom. Ask any politician. They listen closely to what older Americans think and say for a simple reason: older people vote.
There’s an even simpler reason why politicians (and all of us) should listen to the elders of our communities: they’ve seen and know a lot. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that a growing number of seniors are taking up a cause that’s the critical challenge of our age: climate change.
While efforts to lower global emissions often send people into partisan corners of the political boxing ring, one group is showing it’s possible to transcend boundaries and unite around this common goal.
“We’re facing a lot of challenges as a country, and as a world, and I had this sense that older folks could be making more of a contribution,” said Paul Severance, a founder of Elders Climate Action. Read the full Article Here
Few things strike fear into the hearts of politicians like a disgruntled grandparent entering a voting booth. Seniors wield immense political power in the United States, a fact made plain by their voting record. In the 2014 midterm elections, a year of historically low voter turnout, nearly 59 percent of adults aged 65 and older pulled the lever on Election Day. Just 23 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds bothered to do the same. It’s numbers like these that have made Social Security and Medicare the third rail of American politics.
So, what happens when America’s seniors find out what climate change means for their grandkids?
Recently, dozens of retirees descended on Capitol Hill to advocate for climate action. Organized by the Conscious Elders Network, the Grandparents Climate Action Day brought together seniors from around the country. Following a day of training, during which renowned NASA climatologist James Hansen spoke to those assembled, the gray-haired activists headed for the Hill. They urged their representatives to support the Clean Power Plan and they advocated for pricing carbon emissions using systems like cap and dividend. Read the full Article Here
Elders around the world may be our best hope for solving the “super wicked” problem of climate change. Short-term thinking created our current climate predicament. Despite warnings and predictions from the scientific community, the developed world spewed greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Given that problems, solutions, costs, and benefits play out over time frames spanning generations, the situation calls for intergenerational climate-change activism.
Why would seniors enlist in the crusade? They have a long view due to the number of years they have already lived, during which many have witnessed changes in the climate. Many also have passion to protect their children and grandchildren. Halfdan Wiik of Norwegian Grandparents Climate Campaign says, “For me, it’s all about love and optimism. Elders of today have lived our lives in a world of great changes, for good and for bad. We know it can be changed once more.”
Elders often work with a sense of urgency, realizing that they may have relatively few years left in which to leave their legacy. And generally speaking — and with countless exceptions — compared with younger people, elders often have more free time, financial resources, wisdom, experience, economic and political clout, sense of connection to nature, and freedom from worries about job security, mortgages, and dependents.
We are excited to share this wonderful blog post by Diana Hackenburg for Climate Optimism, Building a Green Legacy: Elders Climate Action, . Blog post article includes an interview with ECA’s Co-Chair Geri Freedman.
Thank you Climate Optimism for highlighting the work of Elders Climate Action!
Our Partners at Yale Climate Connections produced this wonderful video highlighting the activities of Elders Climate Action! We are grateful for the support and actions of our partners striving for a better world for all of us.
ECA Member Meg Newhouse interviewed by Leslie Wittman from Stories with a Heart Videos. Meg reflects on Elders Climate Action Day in Washington, D.C. as well as participating in the climate march. She reminds us of the question “What did you do, once you knew?” Thank you to Stories with a Heart Videos for this wonderful production.