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These grandparents are dropping everything to fight climate change

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, Published 9:24 a.m. ET April 23, 2019

Late-blooming climate activists

Leslie Wharton calls herself a “late-blooming” activist. Now 67, she still works full time as a lawyer, a career that’s kept her so busy she simply hadn’t paid much attention to the issue of climate change.

She was never much for protesting, even though she was in college during the Vietnam War.

“I didn’t go out and march. I was too deep in my studies,” she said. She ended up getting a Ph.D. in American history, then going to law school.

A six-month sabbatical gave her time to catch up on her reading. What she learned about climate change worried her as someone who had studied the rise and fall of Babylonia, Assyria and ancient Rome and Greece.

“We live in a world we think is forever. Because I had been a historian, I realized that there’s nothing guaranteed,” she said.

She lives in Montgomery County, Maryland and in 2015 she got involved with Elders Climate Action, a national group of grandparents and concerned elders who work to fight climate change. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a gathering in D.C.,” she said.

It’s not something she’s really comfortable with as a “totally introverted non-activist,” but she feels she must. There’s no time to lose, she said.

“If we play our cards right, we could actually come through or we could lose it all. A lot turns on what happens in the next year, five years, 10 years. We can’t wait 10 years to start moving.”

Last month, she did a presentation on climate change at a nearby retirement community. She’s also worked with some elders in a supported living community on the nuts and bolts of political organizing.

“They have been busy protesting fracking gas pipeline construction for the past year!” she said.

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