By Monica Weiss
We have a very short period of time to ensure that the generations that follow ours have a fighting chance at a future. We are the last generation living on earth that can act on that knowledge. With the most intentional and all-out effort to change the vision and the narrative, we just might be able to create a new paradigm in time to avert catastrophic climate collapse.
My generation, sometimes referred to as the Woodstock Generation or the Baby Boomer Generation, came of age during a time of dramatic social and cultural upheaval and change—the Vietnam War, color televisions, cars, rock music, an explosion of consumer products to satisfy every whim and need, intercontinental travel for pleasure and adventure, and all the comforts that burning fossil fuels could provide. During my lifetime, we have gone from producing goods that “last forever” to producing goods intended for obsolescence and replacement rather than repair. As I write this, old growth forests are being cleared for toilet paper and rainforests are being decimated for logging, ranching, mining, and obscene profit. An area 13 times the size of NYC has been lost in the Brazilian Amazon in just the last 12 months. The term for this is Ecocide.
Our society is rich with elders who have a lifetime of experience, skills, talents, a bit of acquired wisdom and a continuing desire to leave the world a bit better than we found it.
That time is right now. Today. You. Me. Everyone.
We just might be able to create a new paradigm in time to avert catastrophic climate collapse.
Felix Adler’s belief in “Deed Above Creed” comes directly from the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam, the conviction that it is the responsibility of human beings to act in such a way as to fix a broken world. What kind of ancestors do we want to be? Hopefully we want to be the ones that acted once we knew what was at stake. Here’s something we can all do: join Third Act.
Activist and environmentalist Bill McKibben, leader of 350.org, has turned his attention to our demographic, people over 60, with his new organization, Third Act.
Third Act’s mission is to focus our attention and our activism on two critical issues: Climate and Democracy. We find ourselves in this moment in history where both are under imminent threat and if we lose our democracy, we lose our ability to impact climate solutions with the scale and urgency that’s required. Third Act’s organizers are experienced and brilliant strategists who provide a strong support network to local groups based on affiliation (lawyers, educators, nurses, faith) or location (by city or state).
There are many ways to get involved and make a difference. We at NYSEC already partner with Reclaim Our Vote to write postcards to voters in swing states which truly makes a difference. We partner with the League of Women Voters to support their work as well.
Let’s all join Third Act’s new voter registration campaign that will engage us in registering high school seniors to vote before they graduate this Spring, most of them voting for the first time. They need to know that voting is one very important way to make their voices heard.
We can act together to create a movement of elders who boycott bad actors.
The other high impact campaign is called “Banking for Our Future.” It involves signing a pledge to move our personal accounts (savings, checking, credit cards) out of those banks that are the biggest funders of the fossil fuel industries. The top four offenders are Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Signing the pledge can bring about a mass boycott of these banks if, by year’s end, they have not made a commitment to stop funding climate disaster.
We know that Exxon funded a major scientific study in 1977 to explore the impact on climate of burning fossil fuels. When the results came back that the atmosphere would warm two to three degrees Celsius resulting in massive climate change, Exxon made a choice to embark on a multi-decade, 30-million-dollar campaign to sow doubt and to challenge the science. Climate denial caught on, and now, 40 years later, we are faced with the specter of human extinction if we don’t act now.
We have lost decades to transition to renewable energy. The banks are now feeling the pressure from shareholders and investors to step away from lending to the fossil fuel industries, and we can help turn the page more quickly if we act together and create a movement of elders who boycott bad actors.
There is a history of boycotts driving change. the Montgomery bus boycott (1955/56) spurred the modern-day civil rights movement; the Delano grape strike (1965-69) spurred the creation of the United Farm Workers Union; global disinvestment from South Africa spurred what became the end of apartheid in that country.
Boycotts work. Let’s do this—together!