My parents are from the baby-boomer generation; they are well-educated engineers; and keep up to date with current events, but if I were to ask them about climate change… well they wouldn’t have much to say. They have no story to tell about how climate change is affecting them…well at least not that they know of.
“We are a society that pays homage to data: at the same time we are biologically wired to attribute a higher likelihood to events for which we have powerful anecdotes…why is this important? Because climate change is an inherently abstract concept, there are few anecdotal or human interests stories on television that are tied directly to it impact” (Hurd & Hurd, 2012, PG 6 – The Carbon Efficient City)
I would argue that my parents do have stories of climate change they just do not realize it. The weather in Charleston, SC, where they live is a mild warm climate, rarely are days below freezing in the winter months and most summers are full of sunshine, but a review of this past year would tell a different story. Last winter, the city was shut down for several days due to freezing rain and ice. (Atlanta declared a state of emergency for this same system dropping 2 ½” of snow.) This summer, the days of rain were a weekly occurrence.
So, do my parents see this as climate change? Probably not, the connection remains too foreign as is common for most people who are not climatologists. Besides, a few days of weird weather, no big deal…
Like most of the baby boomer generation born just after World War II, they have worked very hard to reach economic prosperity and currently are excited to retire into their ‘golden years.’ Solving climate change is not something of top priority on most people’s retirement agenda. Rather, it’s buy a new car and relax, but I believe that they can do both, with a little nudge from their kids.
I have seen this work. My mom will adopt something my sister and I do it, like start buying organic, grass fed beef. I would argue that Millenials have the ability to influence their parents and possibly their grandparents with small nudges. I have a few listed below.
- Watch a documentary like “Chasing Ice” (its free on Netflix), instead of the most recent Rom-Com with the family
- Open the newspaper to an article on climate change and leave it open on the counter – or circle it with a highlighter
- Tell an story or point something out that’s helping reduce climate emissions – like me I just learned BMW has an electric car, made in wind powered facility made in a Superbowl commercials (maybe that should be the retirement car…)
- Start walking to the store across the street, maybe they will come just for some quality time with you
There’s no harm in trying to raise the awareness about carbon emissions and climate change, so why not give it a try.
Who wouldn’t want to drive this as their retirement car? It’s a BMW.