Hello Boomers

Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World 'Dangerously Close' to  Irreversible Change - The New York Times

My daughter is fifty-two, old enough to have lived a life, have friends, a career, travel. I am glad for this. I am pleased I had her when the predictions of “global warming,” what climate change was called then, were still mere rattling of yet to be imaged chains.

I read the population bomb at nineteen and resolved to have no more than two children. As it was, I had one. But, as I later learned, Paul Ehrlich was a racist. I was not the person he had hoped would limit her childbearing. I was white, American, and raised largely middle-class. I was supposed to reproduce. But I learned this much later.

Today on my smartphone, not invented in 1968, the year of my daughter’s birth, I read of the floods in Germany and the fires in the American West. The inevitable has arrived. The warning, rattling around for fifty-plus years, denied or ignored by many, has finally arrived. I am in no way gladdened by this. Yet, I write this flying at 500 miles per hour, jetting to meet a friend. I have paid for carbon offset but does this matter at this point? I love to travel and have flown often, long before carbon offsets.

I can attempt to justify myself by saying that I occupy a small carbon footprint. I had one child. I live in a 700 square foot home. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I would be kidding myself, wouldn’t I? I was born and raised in the United States of American. The land of the profligate spenders.

When I look back, I think the inevitable is now occurring. Scientists have been predicting a disaster of our making for so many years, and nationally, we have done little. American oil companies knew, many years ago, that oil and gas production would damage the planet. They, like the cigarette makes lied to the population, and we chose to believe it against all logic. Did we think our large SUVs were a good idea for the planet?

I think about the three children I saw playing and sleeping in the Tijuana airport. Innocent, loved, I hope, and likely doomed to see the worst of this climate catastrophe play out. They sleep peacefully while the forest burns, the rivers flood. This growing disaster is my legacy. I wish it were not.

“Ok Boomer” is the catchphrase applied to the most ignorant of my generation by an angry younger generation. Their anger is not unjustified, and it signals that our time is over. It is also a statement that we did not do enough. A comment that my generation did not take this seriously enough, and we did not. Many of us demonstrated, wrote our representatives, sent money to various causes. We were busy working, raising families, falling in love. With all of this, it is easy to get sidetracked. But ultimately, all that we did was not enough. It was a drop in a rapidly leaking bucket, and there is no excuse for not being more aggressive and direct in dealing with the dynamics of climate change.

I chose to make an income (yes, necessary), see the world, play with friends. There was a time that I imagined receiving a terminal diagnosis, and I thought of being a monkey wrench saboteur a la Edward Abby’s novel of many years ago, “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” Instead, I worked, trained, obtained a Graduate Degree, bought property, sold property, lost property, gave it away. I did not develop a terminal disease, although eventually, I am likely to. I am sixty-nine.

As I enter into my seventh decade on this planet, I assess my survival odds and realize the clock is ticking loudly. Death is natural and predictable. It is not sad. I am one of the lucky ones. I would never have imagined that I would live this long. It is a miracle, given the youth I lived.

I wish I could say I could not have imagined this outcome, but that would be inaccurate. I did imagine it many times. The world ending in a fiery nuclear holocaust. After all, I am part of the duck and cover generation, or slowly dying of pollution and human denial. It appears the end is the latter, although we might still blow ourselves up. Or will we, in the last seconds before going over the ledge, save ourselves? It is anyone’s guess.

So why write this? It is a comment to the brothers and sisters of my generation, my brothers and sisters. Wake up! To continue to deny the obvious is suicide, and we are taking the innocent with us.  To continue to deny the obvious is not only suicide but additionally homicide. We will take the animals, the children, and the forests with us, although ultimately, the earth will survive. The Hopi say that there have been human extinctions before. They may be right. After we are gone, the earth will heal itself, slowly. But our human time, the time of homo sapiens will be over.

This situation is not an action movie or a horror story. It is reality. The ET’s will not save us. Wake up!

4 thoughts on “Hello Boomers”

  1. Martha Shelley

    First, let’s stop blaming the boomers. How about those at the bottom stop attacking each other over age, race, whatever, while the 00.1% run the world? Our generation fought for civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. Year after year, we marched against the Vietnam War. We had some successes. But the environment and the vastly increasing income inequality weren’t really on our radar at the time. The question is, what can we do now?

    We can and we should work to diminish our individual carbon footprints. But most important, we have to figure out ways to stop the really big polluters:

    1) the fossil fuel corporations like Exxon
    2) the corporations like Amazon that use these fuels to power the trucks that drive all over our neighborhoods, delivering packages (and excess plastic packaging materials) at warp speed so that Jeff Bezos can rocket his f**king big ego into space, delivering more pollution into the stratosphere.
    3) the military. Per https://weaversway.coop/shuttle-online/2020/04/us-military-world-leader-pollution-and-wasteful-use-fossil-fuels, “As the world’s biggest polluter, our armed forces create 750,000 tons of toxic waste every year in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuels, pesticides, defoliants, lead and other chemicals, according to MintPress News. MPN reports that almost 900 of the 1,200 Superfund sites in this country are abandoned military sites.
    Our military uses almost 21 billion liters of fuel every year, more than the carbon emissions of Denmark, according to grist.org. According to Newsweek, in 2017 the military emitted more than 25,000 kilotons of carbon dioxide by burning fuels.”

    What is the new administration doing about this? The record is mixed. Drilling on public lands accounts for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Biden has moved to restrict new gas and oil drilling leases, but when a Trump appointed judge said he couldn’t do it, he didn’t appeal–at least so far. See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/22/biden-climate-change-plan-environment. Meanwhile he has asked for an increase in the military budget, to $753 billion.

    We need to be out in the streets and not slack off after an election. We can’t expect any politicians to do the work for us. Once “our guys” are in office, almost all of them conveniently forget their campaign promises, ignore the people who did the door-to-door campaigning, who staffed phone banks, rang doorbells, etc., and give their attention to the big donors and lobbyists. See https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-make-me-do-it-myth.

  2. Mary, this is such a clearly written wake up call. As always your writing touches a deep pace in my heart, as our views and background share much in common. In the 60s I honestly felt that our generation would save the world. Now it feels like we are still fighting and perhaps losing the same battle.
    How often I have wished that Timothy Leary would have told his followers to “Turn on, tune in and SAVE OUR THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD.” But instead, perhaps some brilliant activists just dropped out. Some would be crutial scientist gave up and quit college. And some, like me, retreated from the scene while raising environmentally conscious children.
    We could have … we should have done more. Big corporations did a great job of making sure that most environmental laws were never passed. The media lulled many to sleep. Now we are leaving a mess for our children and their children, while billionaires chase their dreams of being astronauts, while children starve, while pollution continues exponentially and pandemics spread.
    May we humans wake up before it is too late for our species and so many others.

  3. Mary, your words so eloquently spoke and organized my thoughts. My elder boomers gave me such hope and contributed concepts to increase that beliefs and values

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