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The Fire this Time: Copenhagen and the War for the Future
Alex Steffen, 17 Nov 09

cop-15-war-for-the-future

That which is unsustainable cannot go on. Unsustainable things that are propped up too long snap and collapse suddenly. Our way of life is unsustainable. The sooner we transform our economy into one that can generate sustainable prosperity, the better off we’ll be, and with every passing day, the risks of catastrophe grow larger and more certain. We need change now.

These shouldn’t be radical statements; they’re all demonstrably true. Yet they cleave right down the middle of what is fast becoming the largest generation gap in at least 40 years, a growing split between people under 30 and people over 60.

When confronted with generational conflict, we naturally tend to see the elders as seasoned and realistic, and the youth as passionate and ethical, and to seek a middle ground of tempered realism. Middle ground is going to become increasingly hard to find in this debate, though. That’s because realism now means very different, incompatible things to the two generations.

And this is what most older observers seem to refuse to understand: The world looks dramatically different if the year 2050 is one you’re likely to be alive to see. To younger people, Copenhagen isn’t some do-gooder meeting; it’s the first major battle in a war for the future. Their future. I’m in my middle years, in between the two groups, yet even I can see that this war is about to get a lot more heated—far more heated than anything we’ve seen in half a century. To younger people, this isn’t just policy, it’s personal.

To be young and aware today is to see your elders burning our civilization down around our ears. To hear scientists tell us we’re in the final countdown, with the risk of runaway climate change (along with the ecosystem collapses and horrific human suffering it will bring) mounting with every day we run business as usual. To hear nearly a chorus of credible voices—from doctors and scientists to retired generals and former bankers— warning that to lose this fight is to lose everything that makes our world livable and gives the future hope.

You wouldn’t think a war could start over such simple ideas.

To be young and aware is to see old people—from the U.S. Senate to Wall Street, from newspaper editorial desks to corporate boardrooms—stalling action on every front, spouting platitudes about “balance,” committing themselves wholeheartedly to actions to be undertaken long after they’ve retired and died. To be told that the world’s scientists are participating in a giant hoax; to be chided for not understanding how the real world works; to be warned that doing the right thing will bankrupt us; to be told that not wanting to melt the ice caps and circle the equator in deserts makes you too radical to take seriously.

To be young and aware is to know you’re being lied to; to know that a bright green future is possible; to know that we can reimagine the world, rebuild our cities, redesign our lives, retool our factories, distribute innovation and creativity and all live in a world that is not only better than the alternative, but much better than the world we have now.

To be young and aware is to suspect that, in the end, the debate about climate action isn’t about substance, but about rich old men trying to squeeze every last dollar, euro, and yen from their investments in outdated industries. It is to agree with the environmentalist Paul Hawken that we have an economy that steals the future, sells it in the present, and calls it GDP. It is to begin to see your elders as cannibals with golf clubs.

Myself, I worry: not that the young grow radical—hell, if I were 10 years younger, I’d be on the barricades myself—but that they grow despondent. Because what the world needs now, more than ever, is what the young have always given most: their optimism.

So if nothing else happens in Copenhagen, I pray that all of us who have years and a voice and a conscience will say at least this to the world’s youth: Your fight is ours, too. Don’t give up.


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Comments

I am 68 yrs old and I resent the "people under 30 and people over 60" statement. That should have been "politicians and financial-corporate leaders over 60and under 60". I have tried to get people around me to realize something is wrong with our world since the late 70's. That was the first time I saw aged oak trees around my home fully wilt with plenty of rain to sustain them; the first time I realized the local avian populations were changing; the first I realized our river would never again be the rushing stream I had grown up with, swam and played and fished in. That was when I first joined the environmental groups who were working to get the messages out to the public. My children and grandchildren and the 30 somethings around here are as much a part of the problem as anyone because they will not listen or believe that anything is changing. They only have time to work and try to make a living for their families. They are trapped in this economy and don't even know it.


Posted by: Edna Jones on 18 Nov 09

There is no class, age, gender, nation, or religion when it comes to the extinction of the human species.

We will all go extinct if we do not collectively "get it".

Saving ourselves by saving the earth environment is the first step, but we have great accomplishments to attain after that.

Otherwise ecocosmology teaches us that we will most certainly become extinct.


Posted by: Dredd on 18 Nov 09

"I am 68 yrs old and I resent the "people under 30 and people over 60" statement."

You may resent it, but polls show that it's true that concern about and willingness to act on climate change are profoundly different between those on the youngest and oldest ends of the age spectrum.


Posted by: Alex Steffen on 18 Nov 09

I wish I had your faith that the under-30s of the world were concerned enough to fight a war. Stirring post, in any case.

We tend to associate apocalyptic visions with the environmental side of the clash, perhaps held over from The Population Bomb days. But I'd love to see a careful evisceration of the subtle, corporate forms of apocalyptophilia.

The ability to articulate and quantify fantasies about how "our way of life will be destroyed" has been a very effective tool for those who would stop change, even if it's just high-level humbuggery,


Posted by: Alexis Madrigal on 18 Nov 09

I, for one, am offended by the fact that we, the over 25, generation seems to be left out of so many groups, efforts, etc. regarding climate change. We can sign petitions, but I, for one, am not showing up at a rally, etc. regarding this that is comprised only of ppl under 25! This is something that affects us all and many of us over 25 year olds have strong feelings regarding sustainabilty (my husband works at Room Doctor, which makes sustainable furniture!). Why don't we seem to count?


Posted by: Mechelle Perigo Peters on 18 Nov 09

Stop arguing, get busy. We can ALL do something to increase awareness and cause change. Make your vote count, if nothing else!


Posted by: Mary Kay on 18 Nov 09

Whilst I agree with the overall sentiment of the article, I'll add my voice to the chorus of complaint about the arrogance and vapidity of its reliance on a simplistic ageism.

Being under probably 30 guarantees only one thing: a lack of awareness of the true complexity of the world. It takes a minimum of 5 years - usually more like 10-20 years - to become proficient in any skill: understanding sustainability is no different in this. It also requires respect, humility, an ability to observe, a willingness to listen - all of which are conspicuously absent in this piece, just as they are in the 'over 60s' so derided here.

My own view on this is that the current issues have little or nothing to do with age, but far more with an addiction to evasion of responsibility. As I see it, there is no way that a possession-based economy can be made to be sustainable. The only way a possession-economy can be made to seem sustainable is to run it as a pyramid-game: and we ran out of room at the bottom of the pyramid perhaps 50-100 years ago, maybe more. The only model that does work sustainability is a responsibility-based economy: the bleak irony is that these days that type of model is practised only by so-called 'primitive' peoples, from whom we have much, and urgently, to learn.

Those societies also make much use of the skills and experience of their elders. True, many of our own societies' self-styled 'elders' may have forgotten their responsibilities in this, but the validity of that role remains - if only to temper the intemperate arrogance of the young. Perhaps you too could learn from this?


Posted by: Tom Graves on 19 Nov 09

I see an awful lot of defensiveness in the comments-if you are feeling the need to snap back in defense of your age, please consider the following:

It is not arrogance to state facts. The age divide on rapid and large scale response to climate change is a FACT, supported by well-documented empirical evidence.

I think Alex is speaking in the context of the "developed" world here (after all, we're the power, money, and pollution). This post is not about the elders of the Kalahari.

This post is not about you. This post is about an entire generation. There are supporters of sustainability in every generation, and that's great, but the demographic distribution is very worrying. Because...

The vast majority of the money and power in our society is in the hands of those over 50. The young are not steering this ship, but we're going to be the ones on it when it crashes. It is maddening and demoralizing to be overruled and outgunned by those who will not be around to face the consequences.

Our culture has a strong tendency to elevate the opinions of the older generations. Tipping the balance requires youth-centric empowerment.

Never assume that a young person does not understand climate change. We have grown up with climate change the way we have grown up with computers.

Maybe the reason those rallies are all people under 25 is because you refuse to go.


Posted by: Molly on 19 Nov 09

Perhaps in the heated debate about ageism in the comments, Alex's central point is being overlooked. Climate change involves a system with long delays, but catastrophic tipping points. What we do now locks in the outcome 40 years from now. It's as if we are pulling the trigger on a gun aimed at the heads of people who can't move out of the way, yet the bullet won't leave the chamber until several decades hence. Many of us older folks (I'm 53) seem to have no problem with that because we're not in the path of the bullet, and we won't be around to see the carnage. That's a hideous ethical position. Perhaps worse is someone young enough to be one of those of the receiving end of the bullet, along with most of those he or she will know or love, but still pulling the trigger anyway.

It may be interesting that polls show more oldsters indifferent than youngsters, but it isn't particular helpful. We can trumpet all kinds of divisions if we so choose: between ethnicities, income groups, levels of education, nationalities, and so on. Big deal. I'd be more interested in those who are actively engaged in transformation and those who are actively impeding it. That's where the leverage is.


Posted by: David Foley on 19 Nov 09

"This post is not about you." --Molly
.
Thanks, Molly. It is depressing how many people are so self-centered that they respond to everything with .... "But, I..."
.
If any readers want to do something that will have a real impact, you should join the free public transit movement.
http://frepubtra.blogspot.com
If nothing else, be sure and read about the coming carbon market bailout.


Posted by: freepublictrans on 19 Nov 09

Molly hit it pretty much right on the nail. I don't think Alex's post is intended as an insult to every single person over the age of 60 at all, and I find it hard to read that way.

In fact, I think it'd be pretty hard to approach our problems rationally without acknowledging that many of the leaders of the environmental movement - like Paul Hawken, Janine Benyus, David Suzuki, Jane Goodall, even artists like Gary Snyder - have been at this problem way longer than young people and are, in fact, prime examples of a character that is both "seasoned and realistic" as well as "passionate and ethical."

But this post speaks to two overarching generational cultures: one being the perception of Baby-Boomers as a "me" generation that has overwhelmingly supported irresponsible and short-sighted policy behavior for the better part of 30 years. The obvious response (which is likely accurate but remains to be seen) is that the Baby Boom's progeny, the Millenials, have become increasingly frustrated and jaded by the system around them as they come of age to inherit a convergence of crises: economic, environmental, and political.

And now, while being pushed by their parents to march down the same materialistic path they blazed through the 70s and 80s, the Millenials find themselves saddled with the challenge of quickly figuring out not only how to grow up but also how to deal with global climate change, crumbling civic infrastructure, mounting national debt, raging world conflict, and increasing political incivility all at once.

And while the over-60ers tend to treat the problem(s) with virtually constant denial, the Millenials must fight to overcome their own collective paralysis: the realization that the world which they have known their whole lives is over. Period.


Posted by: Matt P on 19 Nov 09

...It also might be worth noting that the city of Seattle - where Worldchanging is "based" - is a city which is, for America, disproportionately represented in by both young people and environmentalists.

It's an interesting, although possibly meaningless, microcosm of the colliding demographics that speak to the generational nature of the climate debate.


Posted by: Matt P on 19 Nov 09

Keep in mind the power of divisiveness which seems to creep into every important debate in this issue and many others.

Divide and conqueror really works and the forces that are profiteering from our current system of ignorance and apathy know this.

I think that the generation divide is just a distraction to help keep the collective society weak and maintain the status quo.

That said, this is not the first time that world leaders have tried to get together and do something.... does anyone remember the Kyoto Protocol (1997 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol ) that was not signed by the United States, but the majority of the rest of the world.

My country, Canada, signed on but then did nothing. In fact, the federal governments here have allowed to make things worse because they are divided on what to do.

I feel that the focus of debate needs to move away from the "us and them (youngies and oldies)" and on to more local organization.

BTW - I am 34 and detest the fact that my government is hell-bent on running the world into our "Alberta tar pits". In fact, I am convinced that only local organizations will develop the solutions to get us through these transition times.

Unfortunately, I have no faith in the existing world leaders to do anything constructive than to spend our tax money on bailing out their buddies that have gotten rich while getting us into this mess.


Posted by: Tim Taylor on 20 Nov 09

This is a great summary. I think the following can add to the discussion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

I'm sure we can see who the establish interests, younger generation and scientists are in this comparison.


Posted by: bnehra on 20 Nov 09

Thankyou Alex. This kind of passion is exactly what we need. As a 22 year old trying to make a difference in this crazy world, all of the sentiments in your piece resound with me wholeheartedly.


Posted by: Patrick on 20 Nov 09

Molly: "The vast majority of the money and power in our society is in the hands of those over 50. The young are not steering this ship, but we're going to be the ones on it when it crashes. It is maddening and demoralizing to be overruled and outgunned by those who will not be around to face the consequences..."

I believe Molly expressed very accurately the way I feel about the so-called "generation gap"...and I can see prime examples of where this is true in our society all around us..The fact is, there is a huge battle to win back the hearts and minds of so many of the under 25s who have felt this demoralisation for the reasons that Molly suggests, so that they too can start sticking up for their future.

Even for those of us under 25s already 'switched on' enough to know whats going on in our world are constantly being tested to the core... As things stand, our world is controlled by the older generations, whose decisions are less than forward thinking on many occasions. It absolutely IS maddening to see targets not being met, and opportunities to create a better world for ourselves being squandered! I, at 22 years old, spend a great deal of my time trying to communicate this fact to my peers, in order that they start taking back some of the power and influence and using it to do good in this world..

Copenhagen will never be the shining beacon to the world that we probably need right now...but regardless of what happens there, so many of us need to keep making our voices heard,demanding that the issues are not brushed under the carpet... and there are still millions of hearts and minds out there to be won over...voices yet to be heard.

As AlexSteffen wrote:
"So if nothing else happens in Copenhagen, I pray that all of us who have years and a voice and a conscience will say at least this to the world’s youth: Your fight is ours, too. Don’t give up.."


Posted by: SashaLVP on 22 Nov 09

Thank you so much to all of you! This is very informational. I knew some but not this extent that our environment is in danger of extintion. Can you all elaborate on? However I don't mean to be a critic although I think that we all should look for solutions to ending this gag on generations. Also I would ask if you please check out my blog about children being killed and my hope that someday all of us would join together (just like we try with the environment) and at least try to do something about it. By commmenting on the subject, by exposing the predators, by seeking solutions, by so many other forms of assistance to the matter. I know the subject matter is very different but I read your comments and they are fantastic and I though this might help me reach out people. No need to be mean, if you don't agree with helping me help children please don't reply, just ignore the comment. If you are interested the blog is called: "Wishing Well Chain", for kids and my intention is to look for solutions and at the same time attract these mothers before they kill their children and take the children to a better environment whether foster care or the authorities. We could act anonymously and we could save a live with a phone call, that's my idea. I know there's also a lot of 'red' tape but if we all join hands for a cause we could do wonders and that includes doing for our environment. Thank you.


Posted by: Veronica on 22 Nov 09

Oh, you are so naive!
Have you ever heared about homeland security, usage of troops inside the own country, new NATO doctrine, counterterrorism laws?
Since 2001 all states in the western hemisphere have massively upgraded their weaponry against "terrorist activity". When you start an activist group of more than three people you are already suspicious. No way, they will lock them all in before they can even go to the copy shop to print a flyer.
Happening in Europe with people fighting against fast food, GMO, animal rights...
The (first stage) of the war has long time ago been lost, to overcome this something really big must happen. The melting of the ice caps that has been absolutely and totally inacceptable some 25 years ago is it not, it is a "collateral" today...
so what ?



Posted by: Monald M on 25 Nov 09

I agree with Molly. I was sitting in class the other day and a girl was speaking with her friend and I overheard, "Global Warming is a huge hoax, totally fake." Are we seriously still trying to convince ourselves? Add to that the fact that it was said by an under-25 university student really makes me skeptical that we (the youth) are ready to make change. I've grown up with this problem being a major part of my life. It's really sickening that our leaders are continuously trumping us, and being voted in by the majority of the population.

Young, old, smart, dumb: we all need to care; we all need to act. The biggest changes start with a single human. It's time we took this problem to the streets, because only with drastic measure can we show politicians that we mean business when it comes to climate change. I'd like climate SAME, if you know what I mean.

I'd rather the economy crumble around us, as long as we've got an earth to rebuild it on. Please tell me I'm not wrong in thinking this the most important issue we currently face.


Posted by: Trey on 30 Nov 09

I agree with the above poster, that divisive (and, I would add, derisive, and, uh, bigoted) arguments play right into the hands of those who would retain the status quo, running the environment into the ground for profit.

Personally, I, too, found this post simplistically ageist, as another poster mentioned. But if Molly's "empirical evidence" exists, supporting the idea that over-60s deny the climate change problem, while under-30s recognize it accurately, it should be very simple to avoid this sort of angry back-and-forth: simply, uh, cite the research. What is the empirical evidence? Cite the study to begin with next time, and you can say "this study shows that there is a difference between age groups," and it will be far less controversial, and ageist bickering won't derail what should be the most important point, which is reversing climate change.

Or, don't feel that the horse has left the barn: cite it now.


Posted by: AndrewH on 1 Dec 09

Quite frankly, as a 66 year old, I am deeply ashamed of my own generation of Americans. That said, I am well aware that there are so many elderly who are involved in the environmental movement and try to live healthy, sustainable lives. 44 years of full time nursing has left me with a distaste for "modern medicine" also, because technology has taken the place of human compassion, and while technology may have some benefits, the loss of human compassion is so sad. I have spent my life trying to live sustainably, and now so do my adult children. But, I remain deeply ashamed of those in my elderly generation who are sooooo greedy and chose not to see the dangers right in front of them.


Posted by: Nancy on 1 Dec 09

Recall Alex that all the most outspoken ecologists of our time are over 65; Ehrlich, Ehrenfeld, Darling, Dubos, Wilson, Odum, Leopold, Suzuki, Pielou, Carson, Orr. I'd say in truth, we taught you. There is certainly an unfortunate division but not one demarcated by age. I think you need to look a little deeper into history for the real roots of the war you describe. Still, with a little maturity, I have no doubt you will find it.


Posted by: Ken Kailing on 1 Dec 09

Alex,

This post really captures how so many of us in the youth climate movement are feeling. I wrote this about it for the State Department. I hope they heed the warning.

"This December, when world leaders gather in Copenhagen, let’s hope that the representatives of the United States are inspired by the bold leadership of young Americans on global warming. I ask that those world leaders look around them, as young people will be there, watching, on the sidelines. However, don’t expect them to stay there for long. If this political reality will not assure us a livable world, be advised that nearly half the world’s population will not allow an inconvenient political situation to stand between us and our very survival."

Read it: http://www.america.gov/st/energy-english/2009/September/20090923100835mlenuhret0.9836171.html#ixzz0YUMKmYbR


Posted by: Richard Graves on 1 Dec 09

I don't see the posts of people over 60 as defensive; I see a natural reaction to finger-pointing and blaming of whole groups of people. Polls don't make "facts" and giving people of any group reason to fear or feel angry at any other group of individuals only serves to keep alive the illusion that we are all separate, and that illusion is the foundation of materialism which is at the root of the planetary problems on every level. Let's be careful about the words we use and the vibrations we project and avoid spiritually polluting the planet, because it's not a separate issue. I am older and love to be around young people and learn from each other; I am passionate about saving the planet for the next generation and those who come later; and I organized "350" activities with young people in eight cities across the US and Puerto Rico on October 24, I participated with my faith group in the UN Climate Awareness Week in September, all to bring the issues to the attention of world policy-makers, and yes I strive for a small carbon footprint with no car, public transportation, and mindfulness towards others and the earth. Let's love as much as we can about the world and about each other - It matters.


Posted by: Ellen on 1 Dec 09

May I, as an 85yo make a contribution to this critical debate? It is heartening to read all your statements and indeed my generation has much to answer for-certainly for making a mess of the world but mainly for passively sitting back and accepting the convenience, the comforts and the pleasures of life without thinking - and of being unaware of the planetary damage that made it all possible. For all that I am profoundly sorry, especially when I look at my grandchildren and wonder what they will think about my generation when global problems really bite.

I am now active in the field of solar architecture, in particular explaining how easily we can retrofit existing buildings to make them ready for the climatic changes that are now becoming evident. I have even designed a simple house which could be 90% cheaper to run with 90% less polluting emissions of CO2.

It frustrates me to the point of despair when developers and politicians ignore my concepts which I know will work because I have built them and made them work. I am now convinced that vested interests (greed and survival) must be taken to task for the damage they are doing and their unwillingness to think and act for the common good., Blaming is not very productive however - we have to convince others that continuance of the status quo is usually unsustainable.

I have written books along these lines and circulated them among people in power who are able to make change, but still nobody seems to listen or even take any interest. Apathy and complacency are really the enemy of really sustainable progress.

I was involved with helping a Youth Parliament get going in Australia several years ago, but its voice has not been heard lately. I believe now that young people must speak out, not in anger, but in carefully thought out messages to people at the top, stating what has to be achieved for peace and stability and an equitable slice of the pie for everybody. I find it embarrassing to learn only yesterday that some people in Australia are building the biggest houses in the world - this is sheer greed, totally unnecessary and totally inequitable.

We have to get everybody to realise that 'enough is enough' and, In particular, get our politicians to believe that infinite growth on a finite planet is an impossibility. We have already reached a limit to growth (as we were warned by Meadows and Schumaker in the 1970s) and younger people have the power to speak out because it is their world we are talking about.

There is one thing I have learned which you might find helpful -
don't be frightened of people in power - they are only people, after all.

I do hope that some young people will be speaking with passion and reason at Copenhagen and that action will replace the torrent of words.



Posted by: Derek Wrigley on 1 Dec 09

I agree with the passion in this entry; but the division into old and young is plain wrong.

Eg in

http://www.purdue.edu/climate/pdf/Patchen%20OP0601.pdf

we see

"Surprisingly to some, older people tend to act to support the environment more
than do younger people. While a study in Michigan found little age effect on
participation in a “green electricity” plan,156 a national American survey found that older
people were more likely than younger ones to support a series of actions that counter
climate change (e.g., choosing a car with good gas mileage, using less air-conditioning
and heating).157 In Holland, a national survey found that older people were most likely to
report performing a variety of environmentally-positive behaviors, including buying
environmentally-positive foods, recycling, and applying energy-saving measures (e.g.,
water-saving shower heads).158 A large-scale survey about environmental issues in
fifteen European countries found that the youngest people (15-24) were more likely than
the oldest (55 and older) to say that they are “not making an effort to take care of the
environment because it doesn’t have any impact as long as others do not make an
effort."

As an older person who said pretty similar things to this when I was 16, I gotta say that it doesn't matter who is doing the activism; it is just important that it happens.

It seems that older people are more likely chage their personal lifestyle than young people as a result of environmental issues: so it should be -- we have had more chance to change, and owe more.

But everyone has to make sacrifices for sustainability. Artificial division only helps if... it helps.




Posted by: Gary Barnes on 2 Dec 09

"I am 68 yrs old and I resent the "people under 30 and people over 60" statement."

You shouldn't be resentful, you should be motivated. Be the one to wake up your peers, set the example for your generation. Look at the truth of the situation and take action--we haven't got time for hurt feelings. Onward!


Posted by: Melissa Hoffman on 2 Dec 09

Hi,
I have a sense of agreeance with most of the posts here & the story also. I'm @ the border of being young (31).

I get a feeling of utter frustration at times wishing that the folks who have all big decision making power & the big cash aren't willing to let some of it go & give us the wheel of this anthropocentric experiment.

It turns out that most of the folks with the power to make big positive change happen faster tend to be older & seem to look condescendingly upon protesting youngsters as being idealistic or overly impassioned.
That's about when I feel like saying f**k you! Who are u to judge my life & perspective. And so I become a 'reactionary' an opposing force. The grassroots.

I realise that this grassroots is made up of all age groups, & has grown from the efforts of those 'long in tooth'. I see in my own generation an abstract desire for change but not much direction coming those with the power to change it, BIG changes i'm talking about. And apathy is palatable out on the streets as we rush to appear both sexy, cool & attractive & to be doing the 'right thing' for the planet. Many youngsters just get stuck in doing the 'right thing' for the parents & peers, & so perpetuate the anthropocentric foray before they even realise the are on a runaway train. Then apathy about climate change has taken you.

Others resolve to make every effort to espouse change for the benefit of the planet & for us humans (we're only percieved as separate). These are the spirited & impassioned folks who are @ protests or forming groups to spread awareness in their local community. They are the next leaders of the global situation, if we can retain sufficient stability to globally work together that is.

They are blogging right now (not just me!) & they know that something has GOTTA GIVE.

Either we have a series of GFCs where the economy GIVES OUT & capital deflates to it's proper size.
Or those w/ all that concentrated wealth & power will need to GIVE OUT some of it so we can all enjoy the future....

Well maybe most of us (not the folks on Kiribati, or Tuvalu they're already getting kicked outta home by rising sea levels). OK maybe not very many of us young 'uns will enjoy the future but that's the f**ked up thing really isn't it!!

SO I get jacked off a bit by smug suit wearing businessmen & politicians who are interested only in keeping their reputations squeaky clean & their investments accummulating. IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!! If I meet one I still treat them as an equal though.

I do a lot myself (like 5 days a week man). I'm a permaculture designer/landscaper. But I'm often impressed with all the small things that many many folks are doing. This suprises me when I notice just how many folks are practicing serious behaviour change. They are all humble & modest about their efforts too.

Perhaps a campaign would be good that the government sets up to show the small changes folks are making as the efforts of superheroes, after all these small actions all added up hopefully will make a MEGA-SUPERHERO cabable of saving us all from our own inpending DOOM!!!

Or at least defeating the evil intentions of "Optimus Prime". The black prime mover (truck) who has a truckload of GE corn to sell in nairobi fresh from bazil or a container of munitions to restock the columbian FARC from the US. He's got 2 things on his mind: Economic expansion & the cash that it will make him!

Keep changing folks! Advocating positive & creative responses to this predicament!
Peace & Love.


Posted by: Pedro on 2 Dec 09

The human population is big ,varied,threatened and disbelieving yet mid 20th century people's once united for action ,where did that action get the strength, it is amazing, what was possible, and without a similarly committed movement, there is troubled time down the road


Posted by: Ed on 2 Dec 09

Hmmm. Apparently, I need to both remind young people to be courteous in their comments, and to remind older people that I'm speaking about demographics, not individuals. Of course there are many older individuals who want climate action, or who have even taken a lead in creating it: that has nothing to do with the broader reality, which is that (Gary's quoted lifestyle survey not withstanding) older people are less inclined to believe the science, care less about climate change and are less inclined to support strong action. Poll after poll shows this.

So if you're in your 60s or 70s and you're a leader in climate action, thanks for fighting the good fight. But don't get huffy because you are part of a demographic that has quite accurately been labeled more a part of the problem, than part of the solution.

Spend that indignation convincing some of your generation to change their minds and support climate action.


Posted by: Alex Steffen on 2 Dec 09

I'm over 60 and I'm not convinced that the older people are less concerned about climate change than the younger but it is true that its unlikely to affect us in the same way as it will the under 30's. We were taught that GREED is GOOD and it is that message that has caused the current problems. Common sense tells us that the new message must be that GREEN is GOOD but will it increase an individual's wealth? The older and perhaps more cynical will argue NO it will decrease their wealth so why should they support it. I also suspect that while most of the younger generation might answer polls with their hearts they will vote in elections with their wallets in mind like their parents and grandparents. I have an uncanny feeling it is going to take some serious ecological disasters before people can properly rally and make the society changes that are needed to solve the problems of climate change.


Posted by: Des Maddalena on 2 Dec 09

I agree. Everyone over 66years or age should be offered involuntary euthanisia. Sorry I may have spelled thin incorectly. This should be a one off offer ending at the end Dec 2009. I will tell you when to repeat this offer.
P.S. I am now 66yers old.


Posted by: Don Pratt on 3 Dec 09

I'm sorry to disagree but this is the main source of the problem. By making a statement and stereotyping the "over 60's crowd" is bad for the cause and creates resentment. Every day a new 20 something Wall Street wannabe is making a name for himself by inventing new ways to separate you from your money with absolutely no remorse or environmental morality. Stick to the issues at hand and gather as much support as possible (because we need it). There’s enough blame to go around and all you have done with this article is piss off a valuable constituency. This will not rally younger people to the cause. I think they are smart enough to know an attempt at segragation when they see it.


Posted by: Jim of Earth on 22 Feb 10

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