“That lung of forests is vital for our planet.” – Pope Francis, this August 25th, during an open prayer at the Vatican for the Amazon Rainforests
A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, a veteran environment reporter and not-so-proud member of the Baby Boomer generation
Posted August 26th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
Over the past four or five days, as I watch and read reports about the Amazon Rainforests on fire, I have found myself getting angry and angry at my generation – that big bulging population of Baby Boomer born from 1945 to 1964, that is now entering their senior years by the tens-of-millions.
And I have found myself getting more and more worried for the future of younger people like my daughter (now in her 20s) who will be around long after we are gone, struggling to survive on whatever scorched earth is left.
The Amazon Rainforests, we’ve been reminded over and over again as images of them burning fill our video screens, are the largest forests of their kind on the face of the planet. So large, that they play host to much of the biodiversity we need to properly survive, and so large that they literally produce about 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen.
To put that in perspective,, as one earth scientist recently did, for even the dumbest Donald Trump and Doug Ford supporters out there, the Amazon Rainforests (at least before these catastrophic fires began) are such a huge oxygen producer, that they gift us one out of every five breaths of air we need to survive on what is the only oasis for life of our kind that we know of in the universe.
The Amazon Rainforests, as we have been told for decades, are “the lungs of our planet” and, as much as groups of environmentalists and mostly younger people have been raising alarm about them now burning like never before, you would think that there would be more people expressing concern.
Indeed, where are all of the Baby Boomers who, when they (or I might say “we”) were young, liked to fancy ourselves as ‘flower children’ who wanted to ‘get back to the garden’ and live in harmony with Mother Earth. There we back in the spring of 1970, signing up as “friends of the earth” as we celebrated the first Earth Day.
Between then and now, disproportionate numbers of Baby Boomers who, back in the 1950s and 60s, so self-righteously pointed fingers at their parents and grandparents, and called them “materialistic,” have spent too much time lumbering around the malls like shopping zombies, consuming as if there were no tomorrow and loading up debt that would have horrified generations of people before them.
There were all the jumbo-sized, “look at me, I’ve arrived,” vanity homes and gas-guzzling trucks and cars. And by the 1990s, when they were in their 40s and 50s, and a good number of them had wages and benefits many young people today can only dream of, they voted in governments up of Baby Boomers and for Baby Boomers (in Ontario, we got the government of Doug Ford’s friend and mentor Mike Harris) that gave them one round of tax cuts after another, while slashing services for most everyone else but them.
Now, as we face the third decade of the 21st Century with, according to many scientists, possibly one more decade left before it is too late to turn a world-wide climate catastrophe around, it’s one last gasp for Boomers – like one more round of drinks at the bar – before check-out time.
And here in Ontario, saddled up to the bar waiting for them, was Doug Ford, with his promise to take them back to the good old days with one buck beer, cheaper gas, and more cuts to spending and taxes.
Along with it would come all the cuts to conservation and environmental protection programs, but why should the Boomers care. By the time the symptoms of climate change really get bad, to the extent they believe there is a real crisis at all, the probably won’t be around anyway.
In the meantime, with the likes of Ford holding the fort at Queen’s Park and the possibly that the Prime Minister’s Office will go to Andrew Scheer, who the same disproportionate number of the Boomers will likely vote for in this coming October’s federal election, that 4.4 cents-per-litre “carbon tax” they grumble so much about will be gone, and they can go on pretending they are back in the 1960s when gas was cheap and few people cared what spewed out of the tail pipe.
I know that I am generalizing about my generation of Boomers and that there are members of this generation who have gone way beyond the call of duty, and still are, to fight for a cleaner, healthier planet.
But too many of them aren’t and this Baby Boomer would urge younger people in their late teens, 20s and 30s to do in this October’s federal election, and in all future elections, what they haven’t done in large enough numbers in the past –support candidates and parties that make environmental protection and addressing the climate crisis a priority, and make sure they get out and vote for them on election day.
Through short-sighted, selfishness and their consuming, wasteful ways, Baby Boomers have already done enough to place your future in the balance.
You have the numbers and the energy, if you use it, to shut this drive that the likes of Fords, Scheer and Trumps, and their aging supporters have to return to a dirty, wasteful past down.
For a CNN report on the disaster unfolding in the Amazon Rainforests, click on the screen below –
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