An Urgent Call by Radical Elders
We are Radical Elders who care deeply about the world our children and grandchildren are inheriting from us. We are particularly outraged by the continued dominance of the fossil fuel industry—oil, coal and methane gas—allied with other mega-corporations, and their criminal efforts to keep the world hooked on their destructive products as long as possible solely for private profit. Time is short and the need for action is urgent.
- Elders, especially low-income, low-wealth, and people of color elders, are and will be disproportionately affected by the increasing number and strength of heat waves, polar vortices, wildfires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and major storms as the climate emergency deepens. Under our current corporate-dominated economic and political system, tens of millions of people do not have the resources to have a decent chance of dealing with these emergency situations. Emergency funding is needed now to expand inadequate local and state climate-change disaster infrastructure and personnel. We support the creation of climate-change disaster sanctuaries in all public schools and other public buildings in every neighborhood and town across the U.S.
- The world must rapidly shift from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and other as-clean-as-possible renewable energy sources, as well as energy conservation measures, such as massive insulation and air sealing of buildings, efficiency, and a widespread ethic of conservation. We particularly support “power to the people” in the form of solar and wind cooperatives including community-controlled and -led microgrids, such as the inspiring example of Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. We support democratic and community, not corporate, control over all electricity production and distribution including the local, regional, and national electricity grid. We oppose nuclear power as a supposed “solution” and mega green energy projects that seize land, push people off it, and destroy Mother Nature
- Those of us who benefit economically because of the Global North’s historic and continuing oppression and exploitation of the Global South have a responsibility to both consciously challenge that reality and support programs that lead to society-wide reductions in wasteful and harmful overuse of energy. Without collective, cooperative, equitable energy reductions in the Global North and moving from individual solutions based on wealth to societal solutions based on need, humans will never win the race between fossil-fuel extraction and conservation-based renewable energy.
- In our work for a just transition to clean energy and sustainable living, we uplift that Indigenous resistance has stopped greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to nearly ¼ (24%) of annual, total U.S. and Canadian emissions. We support returning land to Native people, recognizing that while comprising less than 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous people protect 80% of global biodiversity. We recognize the fundamental importance of Indigenous rights and support honoring all treaties signed by the U.S. government with Indigenous Nations, noting that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution defines treaties as the supreme law of the land.
- We support organizations based in local environmental-justice communities, those who have suffered for decades from the air, land, and water pollution caused by the fossil-fuel industry, in their fights against environmental racism and classism. Especially egregious examples are the ongoing Flint, Michigan lead-in-water disaster and the racist proposed takeover and lack of funding and maintenance of the Jackson, Mississippi water system. We call for the shutting down of existing, polluting, fossil-fuel plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure in EJ communities. We oppose the construction of any new fossil-fuel infrastructure, as called for by the International Energy Agency (!) two years ago.
- We demand societal solutions that are of benefit to all. We need all-electric, free, accessible, 24/7/365 bus and rail public transportation funded by federal, state, and local governments. Electric cars and trucks are a better solution than gas-fueled vehicles, but all-electrified public transportation and all-electrified freight and passenger rail are the best options. We support not just heat pumps and solar panels, but also widespread insulation and weatherization of all buildings.
- We demand the enactment of a strong Green New Deal that connects action on the climate emergency with job creation, new housing construction, Medicare for All, poverty elimination, taxing the rich, and similar steps.
- We demand the shift of money from the Pentagon budget to Green New Deal–type programs. The U.S. military itself is the largest single institutional producer of greenhouse gases in the world. War is the most environmentally destructive human activity ever.
- We call for land reform that generates a shift away from corporate, industrial agriculture to local rural and urban farming cooperatives and family farms that produce organic healthy food and are democratically controlled by local families who work the land to naturally sequester carbon in the soil. We call for an end to large-scale monoculture plantations and the continuing destruction of woods and forests and those Indigenous and other peoples sustainably living within them all over the world. We oppose all forms of geoengineering, carbon capture and storage, and all corporate schemes that only perpetuate the fossil fuel industry.
- Most immediately, we demand that President Biden, governors, and mayors use their powers to issue Executive Orders declaring a climate emergency and then use those powers to advance these kinds of climate justice solutions.
Time is short. Climate scientists predict that the 2023 and especially the 2024 summers will be the hottest in recorded history because of the combined effects of El Niño and global heating. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2021 that the world must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 to have a chance of avoiding major and escalating ecosystem and societal breakdowns going forward. Some steps toward that end are being taken but nowhere near enough, while the extraction of fossil fuels is actually increasing. With young people and others, we must rise like the waters because we hear the voices of our grandchildren saying, shut this crisis down.