Climate Destruction: The Boomer Legacy



Now if you're part of the "not all boomers" brigade, that headline probably made you wince, but if you're honest with yourself, that's because you know the headline is more or less true. So please, stop talking, stop trying to deligitimise the very legitimate anger of younger generations, and if you must direct your anger, direct it at the 60% plus of your generation who have repeatedly voted for a future which includes our children not having a habitable planet.

We're furious. And we've every right to be furious. And if you really want to be an ally on this, it starts with dropping the "not all boomers" crap. Imagine saying "not all white people" when a black person discusses white privilege or "not all police officers" when a victim of police brutality highlights police corruption or "not all men" when a woman talks about feeling unsafe at night. It's totally unhelpful.

You don't lecture victims, you listen, you show support and you direct your anger at the culprits, which in this case is 2/3 of your generation, and to a lesser extent, the remaining 1/3 who failed to persuade them. And, of course, a handful of gullible idiots from younger generations.

It's fair to say the boomer generation messed up. So did mine (the geriatric millennials) in its own way. I could quite rightly say my generation was the first generation that really got the climate crisis, the first generation in which a clear majority took the warnings seriously. Now I've no idea whether that's because we were conditioned to favour science over media misinformation or whether it's because we would be around long enough to witness the destruction firsthand, but my generation got it.

Where we messed up, however, where we failed was in persuading our parents and aunties and uncles to take this matter as seriously as we did. We also failed to persuade enough of our apolitical peers of the importance of voting for change, for a green industrial revolution. So yes, we failed too, in our own way, and I'm genuinely sorry to the amazing generation of zoomers who've put us to shame with their inspirational climate leadership.

See, it's not difficult, is it? To accept collective responsibility.

Every generation has a duty to be responsible custodians of the planet for the generations that come after them, but sadly too many of my parents' generation have fallen for the Margaret Thatcher mantra that "there is no such thing as society". This attitude is an abandonment of collective responsibility and largely explains the mess we are in.
Either you believe in collective responsibility or you don't.
Now it's entirely possible you are one of the boomers who gets the seriousness of the problem we're facing, and if you are, I truly appreciate that, so thank you, but statistically, you're more likely to be one of the boomers who are in some degree of denial, in which case I'm amazed you've read so far, but now you're here, I want you to do me a favour.

Go to your nearest window. Take a look outside. Now imagine every surrounding building was ablaze. Imagine the trees and plants were engulfed by raging fire. Imagine the inferno spreading as far as the eye can see, the entire sky bearing an orange glow. Imagine Hell on Earth. That's reality across southern Europe, right now.

We are seeing record temperatures and widespread wildfires. Europe's hottest ever temperature was just recorded in Sicily at an eye-melting 48.8°C. This is the climate crisis. It's happening right now and you might try to deny it, but you can't possibly have missed it. The recent IPCC report has been described as a "Code Red for humanity", stating "it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land".

Pre-industrial CO2 levels were at 278 parts per million. I was born at 343 ppm. It's now 419 ppm. That's almost twice as much greenhouse gas trapping heat in our atmosphere. Anyone who thinks this isn't causing global temperature to rise has been lobotomised by the mainstream media. The climate crisis does not just mean global warming, of course, it means catastrophic disruption of weather patterns. You can expect huge increases in heavy rainfall and heatwaves and droughts, depending upon your location. Wherever you are, you are likely to face a very horrible new normal, if you are still around in the 2030s.

The rate of sea level rise has tripled in recent years. The past 5 years are the hottest on record and the 50 year temperature rise is the fastest in 2000 years. Scientists warn we could be looking at a 2 metre sea level rise this century and a potentially horrific 5 metre rise by 2150. We may well be looking at island nations vanishing, coastal cities underwater, widespread crop failures, mass extinctions, and unimaginable numbers of refugees.

So what is going to happen when those refugees are begging for help? 

Now I’m pleased to say younger generations are not as rife with refugee hatred as older generations tend to be, but I can’t say for sure it would remain that way forever. Perhaps it would and we’d recognise those refugees were created by the actions of our country, perhaps future generations would understand the collective responsibility that boomers largely abandoned. However, it’s entirely possible that under the pressures they’d be facing, they too would turn against refugees. What would happen then? Would they leave them to drown?

If Priti Patel was still around at this point, I think we know what her position would be, especially when you consider the shit-show we'd be facing at home. Planet Earth might call our coming situation karma.

The gulf stream is slowing down. It could collapse entirely, and that would mean a temperature drop in the UK of 7-8°C. That would give us winters comparable to western Canada.

Despite our delusions of grandeur, we are a country that can't cope with an inch of snow on the road. Imagine 18 inches of snow being the norm. Imagine winters so cold that people who couldn't afford their skyrocketing energy bills would die of hypothermia. That's what Britain could be looking at.

The rest of the world, the IPCC tells us, will be facing a temperature increase of 1.5°C by 2040 at the latest, or more likely by 2034. This is the reality we're facing. And we are not addressing this reality because a huge majority of boomers kept voting for climate destruction, either knowing they wouldn't be around to face the consequences or denying there would be any consequences.

I'm genuinely scared for the world my children are growing up in. 

My 4 week old daughter will be a teenager and my 9 year old son will be a young adult when they're living in a 1.5°C world. And the boomer generation had no right to do this to them. Just like they had no right to steal our free university tuition and buy up our affordable housing and deny us our working rights and force us into a life of rip-off tenancy and precarious employment. And, yes, I know it's "not all boomers..."

Even so, the boomer generation have screwed us over in so many incredible ways, but we draw the line when they want to steal the very planet we live on from our children. If your attitude is we can't take the necessary climate action because you don't fancy stopping capitalism, then you are an enemy of your own people, and I will fight back any way I can.

Every single young person should be saying: "Enough!" Conservative boomers are forcing us to not only participate in their broken, cruel and exploitative economic model for their short-term gain, but they're forcing us to potentially participate in our own extinction.

We must surely at this point say: "We're not doing this any more! We are not working for your destructive, polluting companies. We are going on strike until you wake up and show us your credible plan to immediately take the drastic action we need."

Every second young people spend participating in capitalism is a second we participate in our own destruction. Just think about that. Take a few hours. Attack it from every angle because it's the most important thing you could possibly think about, right now.

A carefully planned socialist economy is the only physical option. We cannot free market our way out of this.

We cannot hope the corporations which got so wealthy from environmental destruction will suddenly volunteer to forego profits to do the right thing, and even if one or two corporations decided to make some well-intentioned changes, we can't pretend any organisation not only motivated by, but utterly dependent on profit, would ever take the kind of drastic action we need.

One of the key problems of capitalism is that our politicians, both Tory and Labour, Republican and Democrat are owned by corporations and 70% of CO2 emissions come from just 100 companies. Are we really expecting our politicians to suddenly start defying these polluters? It’s not going to happen without immense public pressure.

People will often say "but what about China?" failing to consider not only is China doing far more to address climate change than we are, but also the US and UK are historically responsible for most of the global warming emissions. We really should be compensating the world for the climate damage we’ve caused. The very least we can do is lead the way on the green industrial revolution.

We live on a planet with finite resources and a sensitive ecological balance. You cannot just endlessly consume finite resources or endlessly pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere or endlessly grow your economy. It’s not just completely delusional, it’s shockingly irresponsible.

We need a massive rethink.

I recently watched a show where David Attenborough spelled out the seriousness of the situation we are in, and he, along with a bunch of the world’s leading climate scientists, basically made the case for eco-socialism, they just didn’t call it eco-socialism. To put this into context, David Attenborough is a man who cried at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral so he can’t simply be dismissed as a raving leftie. He is an expert who has consulted with other experts who are in agreement about what we need to do.

And I promise you climate change deniers, your three hours reading conspiracy sites and God knows how much time filling your head with shite from The Daily Mail is no substitute for scientific expertise.

There is no conspiracy. No one is making this up. We are not a bunch of ungrateful, woke lefties trying to unfairly trick you into cleaning up our air and water. This thing is for real.

Ideology is irrelevant here. It is not possible for the free market to fix this. If you are still a believer in the free market, you are an extremist with views more dangerous than any terrorist, even if you are an otherwise decent person, because views like yours are driving the destruction of our climate. Wake up.

Now if you do grasp the danger, you might kid yourself that if we just wait long enough, technological solutions will dig us out of this hole, but this overlooks the fact it’s happening far too fast. 

Science and futurism is my thing, and while I have no doubt it’s scientifically possible to find technological solutions, those solutions quite possibly involve people 150 years from now cybernetically augmenting their bodies to survive droughts and famines in a post-apocalyptic environment! If you’re talking technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, you need to understand this would be an incredibly slow process and even once you’d restored CO2 to pre-industrial levels, we could be waiting thousands of years for the climate to return to the way it was. And it’s entirely possible humans would not exist at this point.

If you’ve ever looked into the night sky and wondered why we don’t see signs of aliens, well, there is a hypothesis called the Great Filter which postulates that all technological species wipe themselves out before reaching space-faring status. It is certainly plausible, and some scientists would say likely, that climate change is our great filter, that once the ball is set in motion, it triggers a runaway sequence of events that cannot be stopped. It’s terrifying to think we might have already reached the point of no return, but scientists think we at least have a chance of mitigating the damage, if we act drastically this decade.

We can’t do the centrist incremental thing here. We can’t incrementally fix climate change over 50 or 100 years. There is nothing "grown up" about the hesitance of so-called moderates. It's time to snap out of your conditioning and stop the dithering. 

Teenagers should not be the leaders on the biggest challenge facing our species, you, the boomers should, so please start acting like the leaders we need you to be. You have one last chance to become heroes or else history will remember you as villains.

Now, I am well aware of the heroes among your peers and I wish more of you had listened to them. 

Among the boomer generation were the scientists who first blew the whistle, and a handful of politicians, such as Jeremy Corbyn, who were willing to lead the fight against climate destruction - the very best of your generation. Unfortunately, most of the rest ignored science and reason to listen to fossil fuel companies and mainstream media who told them, absurdly, that irresponsible management of our resources = FREEDOM! and anyone who challenged this narrative was dangerous and extreme.

Here is the reality: if only under-50s voted in the last two general elections, we would have a Labour government right now and our green industrial revolution would be well under way - this being the only serious plan put forward by UK politicians to get us rapidly to a net-zero economy. This is not optional by the way, it's absolutely essential.

I remember hearing from Labour canvassers in 2019 about how they would mention Labour's climate plan and the response from boomers was "that sounds lovely, but..." and then they would go on to discuss a far more trivial concern than the future habitability of the planet. It just wasn't registering. Younger voters mostly got it, but so many older voters saw essential climate action as pointless fluff, a bunch of woke nonsense.

The next time you feel like saying "not all boomers," please, instead have a word with your boomer friends and associates who this does apply to, because there are an awful lot of them. And we are desperate.

They are not listening. They see us, and by us, I mean anyone under 50, as a bunch of woke pansies and clueless kids. The hard truth is that conservatism and climate denial are largely boomer diseases that have infected some younger people, yes, but nowhere near to the extent they've infected your generation. And until boomer conservatism and boomer climate denial are crushed, humans have no future on this planet. It's that fucking serious.

So again, no more "not all boomers" please. We know it's not all boomers, it's just far too many of them. And if we can persuade enough of your generation to wake the hell up, then it should logically follow that we can wake up the small percentage of younger voters who also carry this climate denial disease.

We have ten years to save our planet. We must act now.

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Comments

  1. Time to talk about Ronald Reagan and how a generation let him get away with murder, literally. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692819150/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1481171173&sr=8-2&keywords=redemption+how+ronald+reagan+nearly+ruined+my+life

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  2. There doesn't seem to be a genuine appetite for change, though, in spite of all the grandiose words, '5 minute to 12' speeches and all the seeming best will in the world!

    It was said recently that the wealthiest 10% create about 50% of the world's carbon footprint in total. Yet, in my experience of climate activists, its those people who are preaching to the rest of us! The Green Party has always appeared to be a middle class hobby party, sadly the Labour Party seems to be heading the same way, chock-full of often thoughtful, no doubt some genuine, very middle class middle income men and women, but they don't know how to galvanise and appeal to a general populace, even to the educated and socially and culturally aware working classes, like many of us who frequent sites and forums like this. This is not a criticism, but an observation of left politics over about 30 years.

    There is no representation for the mass of ordinary people anymore. The right is full of semi aristocratic over educated types, and the left has been overtaken by the affluent and mostly privately educated middle classes, almost like a priestly caste separate and separated from the mass of ordinary citizens.

    Equally, I see no real concern for ecological change. The wealthy don't pay their taxes, the middle class won't cut their conspicuous consumption and indeed most of us want and get things we often don't need. This is not a blame game, we could all do much better, but it is the wealthy nations that generally make the most mess, preach the most, but actually do little to change.

    Handwringing and blaming others will not cut it. We need a societal shift, and we also need to recognise that the rest of us have a voice too, not just the priestly caste in Westminster and a few political parties hither and thither.

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  3. R D Hale, I sent you an email about 5 days ago. Did you get it??

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