Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Because “Older people can be wealthy”.
Why the climate movement must do more to mobilise older people
June 3, 2021 2.34am AEST
Aled Jones Professor & Director, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
Bradley Hiller Visiting Fellow, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
Some say age is only a number. Others associate age with wisdom. Or perhaps it is a state of mind. Whatever it is, age is a factor in climate progress, and 2021’s renewed climate momentum must mobilise the oft-overlooked elderly demographic.
To date, the global climate movement has engaged young people en masse. Pre-COVID, the world witnessed a swathe of student-led climate protests, leading to broader public debate and increased youth representation in key international forums.
Elderly people are relatively invisible in climate discussions compared to the youth demographic, yet are arguably the most critical for broader climate action. Here are five reasons to broaden the youthful momentum to engage and empower the elderly:
5. Older people can be wealthy
The elderly collectively control an increasing share of global wealth, spending and assets. For example, the 55-and-over population in the US already spends twice as much as the much-targeted millennial market. By 2030, it is estimated that just 11% of investable assets in the US will be held by people younger than 45. Yet despite holding most shareholder voting rights, older investors tend to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors less strongly than younger investors.
Read more: https://theconversation.com/why-the-climate-movement-must-do-more-to-mobilise-older-people-161732
Top marks for honesty, at least about wanting old people to contribute more towards the cause.
So why are old people so disengaged? Plenty of old folk have children and grandchildren they love, so suggestions I have seen that old people simply don’t care doesn’t wash. Old people are usually (though not always) very well informed, so it is unlikely they are unfamiliar with climate crisis claims.
One possible explanation, is age gives old people the experience and perspective to realise the climate crisis narrative is a pile of bull pucky.
Everyone over 50 remembers the Global Cooling crisis, because we all watched the wildly popular “In Search of” documentary on the coming ice age.
I remember watching “In Search Of … The Coming Ice Age” as a kid. Everyone believed the documentary, because the presenter was actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Dr. Spock in the original Star Trek series. The ice age documentary also featured an impressive lineup of scientists, including Chester Langway, James Hayes, Gifford Miller (who described how the descent into the next ice age started 3000 years ago), and Stephen Schneider, who speculated about using nuclear energy to melt the ice caps, to halt the big freeze.
Stephen Schneider hilariously backflipped a few years after the documentary, and started pushing global warming theories with as much sincerity as he previously pushed the global cooling scare.
My point is, at the time we all believed Nimoy’s flick, just like young people today believe all the global warming nonsense they have been force fed, because young people just aren’t old enough yet to have personally witnessed a major settled science backflip. After you see a few abrupt shifts in direction (fat good? fat bad? Pritikin diet? Atkins Diet?), often with the same people pushing the new line with just as much sincerity as they previously pushed the opposite position, you would have to be stupid not to wonder at least a bit whether the so called experts were making it up as they go.
But it seems most people have to witness this kind of shameless scientific backflip for themselves, to lose their automatic faith in authority.
Thankfully we have had a recent series of in my opinion shameless public scientific backflips, which with any luck will do lasting damage to the climate crisis narrative.
Dr. Fauci’s public backflips on Covid (lab leak? natural? kids need masks? kids don’t need masks?) may have done more long term damage to young people’s willingness to accept scientific authority at face value, than anything I have ever written.