Hey, Insurance Baby Boomer Planning to Retire: How About Joining the Fight Against Climate Change Instead?
This is a call to action. It’s time for baby boomers to shake off the feeling that we have done our work and now it’s time to relax.
Whether you’ve been aware of it or not, our generation’s collective lifestyle is causing our planet to be unlivable. Now that we know, we can’t just look to the younger generations and pretend that it’s their problem.
If you were one of the millions who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s like I did, you may be nearing retirement and can’t wait to get to that bucket list. You’ve probably worked hard all your life: Your kids (if you had them) are grown, you saved as much as you could in your 401(k), and now you’re looking forward to kicking back over the next 20 or so years and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Please don’t do that.
The world needs you and the rest of our generation — now more than ever. Now is not the time for you to indulge in yourself.
No matter how hard we may have worked, no matter how diligent we may have been, if we are in our late 50s to early 70s, our lifestyle has benefited from a way of living that was never sustainable.
Although many of us in the insurance industry have spent our entire careers assessing risks, far too many have missed the biggest risk of all by failing to properly assess the impact of climate change.
We have benefitted from a growing GDP that has relied on burning fossil fuels, and now we are dealing with the implications of all that extra carbon and methane in our atmosphere.
The signs are everywhere you look: wildfires in Europe and the U.S., famine in Africa, rivers drying up in the American West and Portugal, crops lost from heat in India, ice caps melting, sustained record heat in Britain.
I accept the consensus of the scientific community on this issue and remain convinced of its importance without any shadow of a doubt. While I am not a scientist, I am someone who still has a respect for objective reality.
Many of us who were successful in building our retirement nest eggs over the recent decades benefitted mightily from profits gained on our portfolios from the same industries that are some of the main contributors to global warming.
Not everyone has had the luxury of having a nest egg for retirement. That’s why it is incumbent on those of us with resources to do our part.
How You Can Do Your Part
I believe that you can’t ask anyone else to do something that you haven’t already done yourself.
I am committed to doing everything I can — both on a personal and a professional level — to educate myself about difficult truths, speak about global warming, write about it at every opportunity, and share how the changes I have made to my life have not diminished it one bit.
Renewable energy: Between the solar I have had on my house since 2007 and a recently installed battery system, my home produces enough electricity most days to power two homes.
Plant-based diet: I became a vegan about a year ago. No matter how you look at it, the calories provided by meat and dairy just can’t justify the energy it takes to produce them.
Locally sourced, organic foods: As much as possible, I eat food that is locally produced. Also, I haven’t used a pesticide or herbicide in my garden for 25 years.
Reduce unnecessary travel: I haven’t taken an airplane for pleasure in 10 years. In that same time, I have averaged 2,000 miles a year on my car. At the organization I lead, we have imposed drastic travel restrictions.
Walk: Whenever I can, I will walk. Yes, it takes more time, but I have also maintained great health by doing so.
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Clothing: I hang my clothes to dry and typically only buy used clothes. Recently, I was complimented on my retro style — but the person did not realize that these are the same clothes I have worn for 30 years!
I do a lot more than this to reduce my personal carbon footprint, and I invite all of you to join me in finding ways you can do so as well, but these sorts of personal actions alone are not nearly enough.
Use Your Voice
The senior and near-senior demographic is powerful. We need to use our voices.
Global warming is not political, no matter how much some folks try to make it such. It is a problem of such scale that it requires all of us — corporations, nonprofits, governments and individuals — to treat this as the existential threat that it is.
In addition to reducing our own carbon footprint, we must use our wallets and our voices to force urgent action now to get ourselves out of this addiction to fossil fuels.
Our parents’ generation coalesced to bring all their resources to bear to fight a world war. Our challenge is so much greater.
At 70, I am fit and healthy and have learned to slow down and smell the roses. Now let’s do our part to make sure there are plenty of roses and bees to visit them, now and in the future. There is not a moment to waste.
If we don’t do everything within our power, each one of us, and collectively, to reduce our carbon footprint and raise the alarm about this existential threat, we might as well tattoo across our foreheads that we don’t give a rat’s ass about our children or our grandchildren.
I know that is not how you feel, so let’s get to it!
Will you join me? &