What Did You Do Once You Knew

What Did You Do Once You Knew

It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake because my great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
What did you do, while the planet was plundered?
What did you do, when the earth was unraveling?
Surely you did something when the seasons started failing as the mammals, reptiles and birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?

What did you do
Once
You Knew

Poem by Drew Dillinger, social activist, poet and founder of Planetize the Movement.

What did you do once you knew

My Grandchildren

My personal story of how I came to be a climate activist has recently been featured in ClimateMama. I wish to express my appreciation to Harriet Shugarman (founder of ClimateMama) for helping me spread the word to grandfathers and grandmothers everywhere who, like me, are deeply concerned about the environmental legacy they will leave to their grandchildren.

A Grandfather on Climate Change (from ClimateMama)

Join us for a short interview with Canadian Climate “GrandPapa” extraordinaire Rolly Montpellier, founder of Boomer Warrior. At ClimateMama, Rolly first came to our attention several years ago through his writing and on-line activism. We had the pleasure of meeting Rolly in person at a Climate Reality training in 2012.

In Rolly’s Voice, and his Words:

With retirement came a period of introspection, self-evaluation and questioning. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? What does it all mean? How much time do I have? How can I get involved? There is so much to do. Where do I start?

I wasn’t always this way. Like most people, any un-ease about society, the environment or the body politic was quickly tossed aside or squeezed out by an overly-busy lifestyle. I had a career to pursue, kids to put through school, a mortgage to pay and a retirement to save for. Deep down inside however, a small nagging voice kept reminding me that someday I would have to get back to the issues left unresolved.
And there would be no bigger issue, no more daunting challenge – the mother-ship issue of our times – than the degradation of our environment and climate change. I’m not sure precisely when I knew that we are destroying our planet. But I recognize exactly when I knew that I had to do something about it.

When my grandchildren were born, I knew. So what do you do once you know?

Like most, I was hanging on to hope. But ‘hope’ is failing us. It has been said that hope is the rope on which we hang, leaving us paralyzed. It just allows us to carry on what we’ve been doing for decades – deferring solutions to someone else sometime in the future. Hope simply passes the buck to our kids and grandkids.

I needed to seek the truth, however disconcerting, inconvenient or troubling it might be. The result of this soul-searching is BoomerWarrior.

BoomerWarrior is About:

1. Raising Awareness to the vast challenges we face
2. Coming to Our Senses
3. Creating a Sense of Urgency to galvanize people into positive activism
4. Improving Our Legacy – the type of world our children and grandchildren will inherit
5. Provoking change and Resisting the forces of denial, complacency, apathy and inaction
_____

Rolly Montpellier, founder of BoomerWarriorRolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s also a  Climate Reality leader (Climate Reality Leadership Corps), a blogger, an activist and a Climate Change presenter. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
He has been a contributor to the Climate Change Guide, The Canadian, ClimateMama, The Hill Times, World Daily, Georgian Bay News, The Elephant, CounterCurrents, 350Ottawa and MyEarth360.

44 Responses to What Did You Do Once You Knew

  1. Does anyone have any ideas how we can raise a lot of awareness for The Climate Mobilization’s indiegogo campaign?

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/launch-the-climate-mobilization

  2. In response to Jackie’s comment, if you want to crowdfund something else to fight global warming, check this out.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/topherwhite/rainforest-connection-phones-turned-to-forest-guar?ref=dave_direct

    Only a few hours left.

  3. Don’t mean to double dip in the comments here, but crowdfunding’s a great way you can help preserve a habitable planet and we want healthy ocean’s for the kids.

    http://www.theoceancleanup.com/

  4. Nice one! Keep on truckin

  5. I know that we can and I know that you have. I was suggesting that the people who care enough to read this blog should start getting creative. I myself have been brainstorming ways to give them momentum to reach their goal before the 25th. Can anyone think of anything else we (or any one of us) could do?

    Maybe multiple or repeat tweets? Or writing to a newspaper for the better writers among us. Anyone?

  6. Glad to be of service. Here’s another hugely important, this time internationally backed crowdfunding project to save the ocean as well. It seems to be in desperate need of money. (I know, I know, you’re sensing a theme in my posts).

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stand-with-palau?sa=0&sp=0

    P.S. I think it’s great policy to respond to everyone’s posts like this. It really keeps the reader involved in the blog.

    • Well Tim I try not to miss responding to each comment on my posts. It’s the courteous thing to do for taking the time to read my material and follow me. Not to mention that one sometimes gets great info such as the links you’ve provided.

      Thanks again.

  7. I concur with the P.S, Tim.

    Regarding Ocean plastic.

    In Cheasapeake Bay they have this. Which seems to have a lot of scientists raving about it.
    http://healthyharborbaltimore.org/whats-happening-now/water-wheel

    This seems to be happening In the Netherlands.

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/3032231/this-project-traps-plastic-junk-before-it-reaches-the-ocean-and-turns-it-into-floating-parks#3

    There’s also this.

    http://www.mswmag.com/editorial/2010/11/netting-system-captures-debris-from-stormwater-runoff

    This seems to be only theoretical now, but still.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/james-dyson-outlines-recyclone-concept-barge-that-would-vacuum-rivers-clean-9262200.html

    Also, it would do a lot of good to urge people to support this legislation.

    http://5gyres.org/posts/2014/06/19/breaking_news_federal_legislation_to_ban_plastic_microbeads_in_cosmetics_introduced/

    If and when I find any other links I think you should see. I’ll post them.

  8. Regarding your comment.

    Don’t have any links of my own (not even twitter). I mostly post and write.

  9. Thanks JackieI didn’t know about the microbeads law they want to pass. FANTASTIC! Those things are horrible.

  10. Boomer Warrior, I just discovered that there reaction to The Ocean Cleanup is mixed. Some scientists appear really not to like it but a lot of people have suggested that this is just resentment of the creator’s young age. Not being a (that kind of) of scientist, I can’t say who’s right. It seems to check out to me, but again, not a marine biologist or oceanographer. Two of the criticisms I’ve heard is that it would attract marine life and birds who would then ingest more plastic than they would have, therefore disrupting the ecosystem even more. Another, slightly less logical sounding criticism, is that people will put less energy into prevention if they know The Ocean Cleanup is out there. I don’t know how much I buy this.

    I think a lot of people, rather than saying “I think there are problems in this project, he should make this part stronger” are saying “This has flaws therefore we should renounce it”. Academic jealousy lives on. Only right now it has more tangible effects than usual. Be that as it may, it might be worth looking into the part about animals flocking to it and ingesting more plastic.

    In my purely subjective, personal opinion. I think the the scientists who support him seem a little less tinged with bitterness.

    Bottom line; some of these criticisms seem a little fishy. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    • Tim – I don’t buy the logic that says that ocean cleanup is bad. It is so counter-intuitive. That said, I’m open to finding out more about this. But it does sound like a denier-like argument. Please advise if you find out more.

  11. Very interesting analysis Tim. Here’s a very important article that explains to the person on the street how the ocean’s health affects them.

    http://www.oceanconservancy.org/the-ocean-matters/

  12. Did I break a kind of protocol that one of my posts was deleted? If so, please tell me so that I don’t do it in future. I was just responding to Tim’s link about plastic in the oceans with related links.

  13. Oops. ooops. ooooops. I’m so sorry. Someone else looking at the page told me it was deleted. Sorry, it’s right there. Really sorry.

  14. Anyone want to tweet this? We need to scream it from the rooftops.

    http://www.climatecodered.org/2012/12/scientists-call-for-war-on-climate.html

    It’s the truth and most green advocates are too afraid to say it for fear of being ostracized. But that makes things worse. This isn’t a political reality, it’s a physical one. The entire movement needs to find a way to speak as one and this is what they need to say.

    On a related note, I wish people would stop saying two degrees, two degrees in unequivocally too much, and calling it ‘safe’ is incredibly irresponsible when we all know who was behind ‘two degrees’ in the first place.

    Someone NOT guilty of this is The Citizen’s Climate Lobby. Who appear to follow the lead of James Hansen.

    Boomer Warrior, I’ve found your polar opposite in terms of attitude toward climate change.

    Ezra Klein (http://www.vox.com/2014/6/5/5779040/7-reasons-America-fail-global-warming) recently wrote one of the most damaging and defeatism things I’ve ever read about climate change (coming from the left).

    Let us commence

    First of all, some of his facts were smudged; second of all, he makes the ncredibly stupid and uneducated assumption that this will only directly affect people who are either in the global south or are subsistence farmers. Apart from the fact that this is mind-bogglingly scientifically inaccurate, it also fails to take into account that if things are bad in one place in the world, this will really really REALLY affect everywhere else. I think one of the reasons this bothers me is that he feels no fear. I think one of the reasons behind this is that he is just the right age to be old enough to mistakenly believe climate change won’t affect him (he even says that he thinks “our grandchildren our fucked”, which of course made me think of the contrast between what he rights and what’s on this site) and just young enough not to have children fight for.

    But possibly even worse, every response (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/06/3445803/7-reasons-climate-change/) (http://www.vox.com/2014/6/6/5786318/it-doesnt-make-sense-to-say-weve-failed-at-global-warming) that I’ve seen, seems to think that three degrees, while bad, would still be O.K. This is insanely dangerous, because what it hides from the reader is that the numbers are already inflated. And that runaway global warming which could lead to an increase in degrees into the double digits (eventually) is the most likely outcome of anything much higher than now. He should be ashamed of himself, even if only for unforgivably shoddy research.

    Let’s hope this column spurs some of the people who think like we do, the people who know we all have everything to lose, to action. We need a war against climate change. We need to let EVERYONE know we need a war against climate change that half measures are not an option.

    • Tim – lot of food for thought. We are past the point of half measures. The world is a complicated place. Wars and natural disasters capture a lot of attention – they’re easy to report on, they’re sensational. Right now it’s all about Israel/Gaza or the Ukraine/Flight 17. It allows the average person to focus on something other than climate change or runaway global warming. Most people think this will not occur in their lifetime but they are wrong. And of course, the 2 degrees is a fallacy. We are on a path that will far exceed 2 degrees.

      I’m with the Citizens Climate Lobby and also 350.Org as well as the Climate Reality Project. There are millions of us working 24/7 on raising awareness about climate change and creating political will for action. The war on climate change has started but it will take an all-out war as you say.

      I will tweet the article you mentioned in your response. Thank you for being such an ardent follower. I appreciate it.

  15. Regarding The Ocean Cleanup and denier-like arguments. I couldn’t agree more. I just felt it was important to mention it, just in case. If I hear anything else, I’ll definitely let you know.

  16. I don’t mean to harp on this point but regarding The Climate Mobilization: A good strategy might be to email prominent environmentalists as a supporter of The Climate Mobilization and them to tweet about it. Bill McKibbon, although I don’t always agree with him, has a massive Twitter following and has been known to tweet about crowdfunding projects. And if he says no, some other environmentalist could be approached.

    Tim. I LOVE your comments about Ezra Klein. Lead, follow, or would you please shut up and stop causing damage. Honestly, this sort of thing is, in some ways, just as bad as the deniers.

    • Thank you for your comments anonymous. Funny name.

      I agree with you that there are a lot of solutions out there and much is being done to tackle climate change. Millions of us are active at promoting new technologies and encouraging people to not lose hope. The media has a tendency to highlight whatever sells papers and ads. Thus we see a lot more coverage for catastrophes and chaos than we do for the things featured in the Grist article you linked to. Good for the Grist.

  17. I sit in front of my computer, having read several of your recent articles. This is a website who’s focus, who’s stated focus, is future generations. You fear for your grandchildren. Anyone who knows about this, fears for their children and their grandchildren. I am young, very young.

    And I’m afraid.

    As am a member of the first, although not the last, generation who’s future will be decided in the coming months and years one is inclined to depression, rage and frustration and, above all, powerlessness. We are being fought for and that’s comforting, but our enemies are so powerful, and so much damage has already been done. And that’s not only terrifying. It’s enervating.

    Our personhood is being denied. Our right to a liveable world is being denied. There are people fighting, people marching and proposing laws and, yes, blogging about this. People do care. But not most of the people making the decisions

    Most people my age are not as stupid as most people seem to think we are. We know the only times we are ever thought about by those in power is how can our existence be turned to their profit. Don’t they realize that in the long run even their children and their children and their children aren’t safe? That even if they can hoard resources for longer than the rest of us, eventually they’ll die or suffer too? I hope they realize that one day even the people they love will curse them.

    What is a person to do? What is a person to feel? How can one react? When we hear that even with the immediate change of course that’s so necessary and so ignored, we have forty years baked in already, and mass disintegration of ice sheets. How can one feel anything but when some of the smartest people in the world are calling you victims of other people’s choices.

    How are we supposed to react?

    What are we supposed to feel?

    What are we supposed to do?

    • Bluebolt – thank you so much for your response. I love to hear from members of, as you say, the first “generation who’s future will be decided in the coming months. Your observations are well-thought out, clear and riveting. Indeed, what are you supposed to do?

      I can feel your fear. I would like to help. I need more information about you and I would like to enter into a more direct dialogue with you. For one thing, I want to carry your message on my website – your text above is excellent for starters.

      You can reach me by email if you wish – r.montpellier@boomerwarrior.org

      Thank you again. Hope to reach you soon.

  18. Karen Montpellier Reply

    Keep up the good work.

  19. Personally speaking, my view is that Climate Change has been accelerated by inappropriate use of resources. Beginning in the Industrial Revolution and carrying on unchecked until today, we are all guilty of wanting a material existence that can only be made by using raw materials, fossil fuels and human labour. We want “cheap stuff” and it might have only cost us a bit of our “incomes,” but the price to nature is much higher.

    We must all start to re-think how we do things. Do we really need a big car? or even a car at all? Do we need two TV’s, several computers, iphones, gadgets and such? Do we need to heat/cool our houses to the nth degree? Do we need to buy every bit of our food in plastic packaging? Do we expect to live in a throw-away society because our stuff is too expensive to fix? If your answer is yes, then I don’t know how we change things.

    It is not simply a matter of switching to “green” technologies. They must also be affordable, easy to produce, and most importantly, they must not use up energy/resources or produce nasty by-products in the process. We are not there yet but hopefully, manufacturers are thinking about it.

    So, humanity must wake up to sacrifice – to switching off when possible. Every drip from a tap, every light on in an empty room, every silly device designed to make our world less manual work must be turned off when we are not using them!

    Our commitment to making the world “greener,” and more-sustainable must begin at home…create less demand for the resources and the constant development will slow down. Until we all commit to reducing our consumption, we cannot expect governmental or world policy to change.

    • Colette – thank you for your insights on things we ought to be doing differently, once we know I guess. Waking up to sacrifice will be a challenge. The whole idea of giving up something is somewhat distasteful in our Western lifestyle of over-consumption. What’s even more worrisome is the fact that developing nations – China and India for example – aspire to our standards of living. They want what we want.

      I agree with you that switching to green technologies and clean energy will not save the planet. The energy source and new technologies will allow us to continue “business as usual”, that is, perpetual economic growth. So even a low-carbon economy will not solve the over-exploitation of our planet and its eventual destruction.

      Sorry about the pessimism.

  20. Colette, I find it incredibly damaging to blame humanity. Most of humanity is sacrificing more than they can afford. The people are not at fault, the government and the businesses are. the people don’t want a throw away society, businesses purposefully make things that break easily cheap and things that are well made expensive so that one buys more. I assure you EVERYONE wants something well made, they’re just stuck with garbage. Very few people over consume out of choice, in fact, very few people over consume period.

    And yes, some people do need a car. Not everyone lives in the city, some people need to commute. We need electric cars but more importantly we need better infrascructure (in North America at least).

    We need to demand structural change. And telling people their behavior sucks is demotivating, most people do not own a large car or a large house and most people don’t want junk when they are given the option.

    If we want policy to change we need to create political will. The government doesn’t care if you use less heat in the winter. Our outrage should be focused on factory farming and fossil fuel companies. This is why our enemies find it so easy to vilify us. Don’t tell people they suck. Tell them they’re being, if you’ll excuse my French, screwed.

  21. Note: When I said infrastructure what I meant was public transportation.

  22. Well Jackie, I am not sure that you are seeing the world as a whole. There is a lot of humanity that doesn’t give a fig about anything but themselves.

    I have watched people toss non-decomposable litter into nature’s clean spaces (rivers, fields, woods, etc) expecting somehow to have someone else clean it up, or not caring what happens to it, or what it poisons. They are uncaring about the rest of humanity, the earth or anything but their own immediate wants.

    We must all set examples – (go and pick up their litter in front of them – I did this once and the layabouts laughed at me, but it got their attention!). To expect our governments to fix these attitudes results in enormous expense to taxpayers – cities pay a fortune for cleanup after litterbugs.

    This is just an example… people are irresponsible in all walks of life. They say one thing and do another.

    We can all do something without creating hardship for ourselves and set examples for manufacturers of goods. We can use less of everything.

    For instance….. use less toothpaste on your brush – it is bad for fish and water courses anyway, and people generally use far too much to clean their teeth. If people cut use by half – imagine how that will affect how much needs to be manufactured? We could also refute the claims of toothpaste commercials that their seven plaque fighting ingredients are just a ploy to make us buy more expensive and wasteful toothpaste, and just not buy the new products! They are simple choices and while their impact might be tiny from one person, it is enormous when extrapolated through the entire population of North America.

    We all have a role to play it is unconscionable to blame another party of people… whether government or business – they are responding only to the demands of everyone. And, remember, some of the greatest inventions (electric lighting) come at a price for the environment. The development of cleaner technologies that are affordable will take much time and some very bright inventions. The key is education and balance in everything. We are all learning and once we know what is right and wrong, it is up to every individual to make the right choice!

  23. That’s what governments are for, that’s what Taxes are for. I would go so far as to say that environmentalism is a movement that challenges the central tenets of libertarianism. The purpose of taxes are to maintain society, you need to have society in order to maintain it.

    I ABSOLUTELY, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT blame businesses and the government for this. They are not responding to what the public wants, they are shaping what the public knows and then CLAIMING they are responding to what the public wants. I recently read a poll that said two thirds of the United States wants the government to take action on global warming. How about that demand? How else do you think so many people on this continent got to be climate deniers? If you read Naomi Oreskes you will find that there has been an enormous suppression of evidence of global warming for decades. Legislators have been aware of this for decades. Are you saying that you and I are as responsible as the oil companies? The people who deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity. Have you ever heard of ad-gag laws? Factory farmers lobbied (i.e. paid) for laws that make it illegal to take photos of the conditions on their premises.

    It’s unconscionable to blame one class of people more than another? THAT’S unconscionable. IThese people should be tried for crimes against humanity. I hope that when you talk to people about the grave danger humanity faces you don’t say things like that because if someone tried to tell me that I get up and walk away.

    We need to be the change we wish to see in the world. We need to cause and demand enormous structural change and we need it now. We need a Manhattan Project. A fantastic organization which supports such an endeavor is the The Climate Mobilization. There is an excellent article about them on this site. They have a social media and psychological strategy to spread a pledge to transform our culture into one ready to fight climate change. Check it out.

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/launch-the-climate-mobilization

    http://www.theclimatemobilization.org/

  24. I realize the conversation has moved on from this but I wanted to mention another link about plastic in the oceans (even if they seem to be one of the people who don’t like The Ocean Cleanup project).

    http://5gyres.org/

  25. Indeed, a frightening prospect – 3 to 4 meter sea level rise.

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