Tim Bousquet: Yes, I do actually give a shit!
Just reading your "False reflection" editorial (December 31, 2009), I do agree with you to some extent, that people in general have some difficulty coming to grips with the implications of climate change and actually doing something about it. Individually, we feel we are doing "what we can," but is "what we can" enough? When we are asked to take measures to curb our individual carbon footprint, how far will we be asked to go?
I think people's idea of what they can do without or cut back on is all over the map. No one really wants to stand at a bus stop in a blizzard to go the mall 10 minutes' walk up the road, when the car, a much easier option, is in the driveway. Heaven forbid we should be asked to give up our car completely. No one wants to turn the thermostat down to 16C to save furnace oil or coal-fuelled electricity. Not if we are really honest about it.
However, many folks I know in their early 60s, including myself, are trying to sort out a strategy when dealing with concerns on the future of humankind. After writing to newspapers and politicians, attending rallies and trying to pass the climate change message around to friends and family for several years, I have concluded that in general, aside from personal austerity measures---turning down the thermostat, turning off lights when leaving a room, turning down the temperature of hot water heaters or turning off hot water completely except for bathing, and of course leaving our cars at home and taking the bus more often---we are waiting for our provincial, federal and international governments to finally get the message and take the lead in mandating major changes in our energy consumption way of life.
And when these governments do, we will probably feel relief that something is finally going to be done, but at the same time be fearful of the changes that we will be asked to adapt to.
I look at my three grandchildren, ages seven, five and two, and think of their future. To me, that is a driving force to keep on keeping on. There will always be more letters to write (whether anyone actually reads these letters is another matter). Please don't assume all older people "don't give a shit." Some of us do.
Our 30- and 40-something children tell us we are doing the right thing writing these letters to those who are responsible for change, but don't seem to feel the urgency to do the same. Perhaps when I was that young, life was busy enough with work and family, and in fact, climate change was not such an important issue then.
So, does our grandchildren's future depend on us ("the defeatist, wizened fatalists")? Perhaps yes. A sustainable future is non-negotiable, not for my grandkids.—Vivien Blamire, Dartmouth