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Many of us won’t be around for the worst consequences of global climate change. But younger political workers, young voters, their children and grandchildren can suffer greatly from our mistakes today. Or they will benefit from our vision of a better tomorrow that has more than energy independence and less damaged climate and environment, but actually promotes healthy, vital communities.
Think about the politicians you work or vote for. In some cases they can be convinced to contribute to a new vision for Kansas and the world. In some cases you will have to work in the political system for other solutions that our democratic way provides. Speak up. The decision is yours, it will be your world.
Your author is in the middle of the baby boomers’ generations. One difference is a new willingness to be active in politics, health activities, and different living arrangements. There were a lot of bad influences from the “hippie” generation, but these qualities are valuable as we work to mitigate climate change, as well as adapt.
To mitigate climate change, we need to make many changes, across many “sectors” of activity. No single magic bullet will do the job. Becoming politically involved, working to understand and change the way we do things is critical.
But some changes will come from how we live. We will discuss this more on the “seduction” page, but many changes that we can make that help with energy efficiency and conservation also help with living a healthy lifestyle. We can see valuable changes in community by arranging our living patterns and where we live so we can walk rather than drive. Of course many will reject this notion (we may be in denial about many things–our health as well as climate change). Change in this direction won’t take place this year for most of us. We can’t present specific details in a short space, because each community and household is different. But recognizing the benefits to ourselves, not just future generations, will help change our way of thinking.
The baby boomers will form the largest retiring population that has ever occurred in U.S. history. As we move toward retirement years (if indeed we actually do “retire” from work patterns) health issues become more pronounced. A group in Johnson County called the “Foundation on Aging” identified four issues that they could make a change in retirees’ lives. Now they do not consider environmental issues, but the overlap with the issues of energy efficiency and climate change are striking. And these issues apply to us as we move through all stages of aging toward retirement.
- Transportation: An aging population needs alternatives in transportation. When possible walking can help with health as well. In populated areas a good transit system and design of living spaces and settings will dramatically improve the access of retirees to goods, services, community, friends. Transit systems which are energy efficient because they are shared, as well as walking opportunities all help reduce energy use–and thus carbon emissions by direct conservation.
- Housing: Retirees do better when they can stay in their homes or similar type setting as long as possible. But one way or another there are many opportunities for changes in living patterns that help individuals as they age. Consider the overlap with what is needed for reducing energy usage and carbon emissions. Housing and buildings create something like 50% of the carbon emissions. Changes as we age can be beneficial both from energy and lifestyle viewpoints. Start thinking about the opportunities.
- Community: Retirees often become isolated. Building communities on both a physical and interpersonal level can greatly help our lives as we age, and at the same time make significant differences in energy consumption. Think about how community development can make a difference in both our lives as we age, but in reducing energy requirements that helps mitigate climate change effects. Community development patterns affect housing (buildings), transportation, and other energy related issues. Start thinking of these issues together.
- Caregiving: This issue is not directly related to environmental concerns, except that it is tremendously connected and affected by what we do in the previous three areas.
The baby boomer generation is proactive, thoughtful, and involved in politics. Many are in positions of influence in industry, community, and religious groups. The time has come to consider how communities can be improved while reducing dependence on foreign oil and carbon dioxide emitting resources.
The baby boomer of the previous generation will soon be the retire. Today’s retiries have a great deal of involvement in politics. Changes we can start on today will help today’s retirees, tomorrows retirees, and future generations, as outlined in the previous section. The issue is only one of perspective, and concern for generations to come.