I am a 76-year-old white male as many of you may already know if you follow my posts. I am not a boomer. I was born before the age of boomers; actually, before there were any classifying of generations. I was born into a time of frugality (post WW2), pre-television, and plastic industry. I have gone from being very optimistic and upbeat to downright depressed over the future of the human race.
The following is an interview I decided to conduct with myself over my worries and concerns.
Q: What is your biggest concern right now?
A: You say right now. My biggest concern began nibbling away at me when I first heard the term “global warming” about 30 years ago. My youngest child was 10 at that time and I vaguely remember having a discussion with my three kids about what the term meant. They would bring some material home from school about recycling and conservation and we would discuss this new awareness around the kitchen table after homework was completed.
Q: So global warming is your biggest concern today?
A: Absolutely. I now have a one-year-old granddaughter and a two-year-old grandson and I am extremely worried about what the world will be like when they reach their twenties. Just recently there was a dire warning by New Scientist that some areas of the world will be uninhabitable by the year 2050. That is only 30 years away. The following chart illustrates the world average temperature from the 1800s through to 2000. The world population in 1880 was around 1 billion. It is now near 8 billion. It’s obvious the global rise in temperature is human-caused.
Q: Do you have any hope that a solution will be found that will mitigate the global warming effect?
A: All my life, I have been a very optimistic person. Now, I find myself falling into a state of pessimism every time I see, hear, or view on TV a new report on the state of our biosphere. The big issues in my eyes are consumerism, overconsumption, and greed. The COVID pandemic has shown how quickly the atmosphere can clean up as, over the last two months, far fewer vehicles on the road and planes in the air have had an amazing effect on the atmosphere. However, when the pandemic is over, humans being who they are will just revert to normal.
Q: What do you do in your part in saving the planet?
A: Let’s make one thing clear. We are not saving the planet. Every human could vanish tomorrow and the planet will continue for the next 5 billion years, it’s estimated lifetime. Both the planet and all other life on it would heave a huge sigh of relief however. Nature has amazing recuperative powers. But when the last tree is gone and the oceans are filled up with plastic, I think nature will finally hold up the white flag.
Q: OK,.I get your point. Let me rephrase. What do you and your family do to mitigate your effect on the planet’s resources?
A: I am very proud of my three children. My daughter is a climate activist and vegan. She is fortunate to live in an area of BC where there is a very heightened awareness of the environment. My two sons and their wives are environmentally aware and buy locally whenever possible. They do not buy plastic toys or one-use plastic. Most of what they buy is recycled or secondhand. They and their friends have a great system of hand me downs with kids toys and clothes. All three of my kids are very aware of their impact on the planet.
They have had an effect on the buying habits of my wife and I. Most clothes we buy now are secondhand. We attempt to buy local when it comes to food. We have one car and try and use public transport wherever possible. We have reduced our plane travel and will never set foot on another cruise ship.
Q: What is the biggest ONE issue with you personally?
A: One word. Consumerism. A majority of people do not think when they shop. Where does the product I am buying come from? Do I really need a new pair of $300 jeans? Who were they made by? Slave labor in a third world country? Do I really need a brand new I-Phone or am I being suckered by a big conglomerate into buying? Were carbon-storing forests cut down to create this product? Was the product shipped from overseas by a big conglomerate using ships built in third world countries and crewed by overworked and underpaid serfs? Is my buying a product good or detrimental to life on earth?
All those questions are relevant questions. However, the current global manufacturing machine began in the 19th century and witnessed the advent of globalization approaching its modern form. Industrialization allowed cheap production of household items using economies of scale while rapid population growth created sustained demand for commodities. Without a complete global financial meltdown, globalization of goods is here to stay and this is where a lot of my pessimism arises from. You cannot unscramble eggs.
Q: If you were made world leader, what would your first action be in regard to climate change and global warming?
A: Wow! That’s a heavy question. I really do not think one person can make a difference. There would have to be a global meeting of the minds with all world leaders agreeing to use common sense and long term planning in solving the problem of the degradation of the planet. All the following would have to be set aside to get this done;
- Ego tripping
- Lust for power
- Power plays
- Suppression of human rights
I just do not see this happening. There are far too many bullies, psychopaths, and downright evil people in positions of power around the globe. Much as I hate to say it, there would have to be a devastating people killing, global event to get the attention of world leaders. If I WAS made the global leader, the first thing I would do is fire most of the current male world leaders and replace them with women. Men have really done a terrible job of leadership since the arise of homo sapiens. Its time for a major change in how and who rules the world’s countries.
Q: What do you and your children talk about as regards their future?
A: We actually do not discuss the topic in depth. I know my youngest son as the father of a 2-year-old is quite concerned. He recently received a promotion in his job and due to the COVID pandemic is now working from home and supervising his department. It has been very stressful. His wife is a teacher and her job is also very stressful given the new paradigm. So, both working from home and having to care for a gregarious child is difficult. They don’t need me piling on. My other two are also working on new careers, buying a first home, and surviving in these stressful times so I don’t share my concerns with them other than in passing comments.
Q: You have lived for 76 years; were born during a world war and have been through a number of financial global downturns. You have seen a lot of changes in your life. What are your thoughts on where the world is today?
A: Medically, I would not want to live in another era. We have made huge leaps and bounds in medical care in the two decades. When I was a kid, there were fears of Tetanus, Polio, TB and Diptheria, and all sorts of other diseases that have been almost eradicated in many parts of the world. Going to the dentist was an ordeal up until 10 years ago. I think the 1950s and 60s were pretty cool times to live in and be growing up in. More innocent times I think. I know pollution was not an issue where I grew up. My friends and I would go fishing in creeks. The beaches were clean with little in the way of junk being washed in. The food we ate was better in my estimation as most everyone had a garden. There was a lot of fresh meat from hunting and the sea was full of fish, not plastic.
TO BE CONTINUED.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this post, please feel free to connect with me through Pippies or through my website.
Post Image Credit: Neil Godding, Unsplash