20 November 2011
I read someone's response to an online discussion about extinction, and it really miffed me. This person (someone I know and had respect for until now) seemed to be saying that old folks (like me ... I'm in the second half of my life) don't have the right to tell the rest of the world (aka the younger generations) that we're on a collision course with extinction due to potentially catastrophic climate disruption.
He intimated that because we're "old," we don't picture ourselves in the heaps of dead, rotting bodies and therefore we shouldn't talk about the possibility of human extinction. His assumption made me mad. I don't try to educate about the truth of the climate change emergency for my own sake. I do it for the sake of all the children, so that they'll have the opportunity to grow old in a climate-safe world. So whether the climate change $#@! hits the fan in my part of the world while I'm still alive or not isn't relevant. Whether it's going to kill me isn't germane to our work.
The issue is that there's an urgent truth that needs to get out there, that needs to be understood by anyone with any power and influence. So chastising "old folks" who are trying to sound the alarm even though they might not still be alive when the worst impacts happen is a form of denial, no? Denial of younger people's right to know the truth about their own future. (And we're not talking about telling the little children. That would be cruel, since they have little to no power to effect change. But there are lots of "young folks" between 15 and 50 who should know the urgent truth and might be able to do something about it.)
Tangent that this led me down:
For the first time, I've started to wonder if I'm a chump, a sucker, an ecoweenie (as I was once called ;-). Why should I be spending all this time, crying all these tears, feeling all this sadness for the children when so few other people are doing it? I mean, why don't I just go into denial instead of spending hours every week making sure I'm up to date on the science — so that I can share my understanding of the emergency with the 7 other people in the world who also care.
And why should I live in a cold house all winter to lower my carbon footprint when that selfish %$#@! I wrote about a while ago doesn't give a crap about today's children or future generations? (By the way, turns out he's read one book on climate change written by a denier, which of course makes him an expert. And he couldn't even spell my name right when he slagged me in his blog ... he kinda lost any last shred of credibility when I saw that.)
Alas, despite the cold, the slagging, the tears and sadness, the time and the trouble, I can't turn my back on the kids. If that makes me a chump, I'm going to wear it proudly. Besides, "climate change chump" kind of has a ring to it!
p.s. Keep (or start) writing to your elected officials. They need to know how many of us understand the threats of the climate change emergency, and how many of us are willing to make sacrifices today for the sake of the future. WE CAN HAVE SOME INFLUENCE. WE CAN CREATE POLITICAL WILL. WE CAN EFFECT CHANGE.