Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 217 The Hot Generation


The Flat Earth Society got a brief mention in the newspaper when I was a kid; maybe sixty years ago. I remember it because it seemed so strange. But there it was on an inside page of the Des Moines Register. A handful of people were meeting who held that the earth was not round but flat out flat. I remember being amazed. How could people still believe in that stuff? Lucky thing there were only a few of them and their days were numbered.

I was wrong. They survived and multiplied. Now I find myself stumped by perhaps the most important challenge facing us. How does one reason with someone who doesn't believe in reason? I wish I had the answer to that question. We retired people have lived through a sea-change in acceptable methods of thinking.


This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Little did I know that by the time I retired flat earth type of thinking, or not thinking, would come to be a major player during my lifetime. A prime example: denying global warming or climate change. Damage has been done. We don't have to wait for the future to see the results. Yet, many people call it false and talk of it like it is a fantasy. Our grandchildren's generation is being referred to as the "hot generation". They will live in a different world.

I have four grandchildren. I would love to leave them a world in which they will be able to enjoy a life somewhat similar to the one I have enjoyed. Oh, at one time in my life I was sure our generation  would leave the world better off. That is when I was young. Now I am just hopping for parity. I don't believe that the world will be better off in their future.

What has happened to scientific thought and the age of reason? How has sticking our head in the sand come to have merit. Facts are denied and superstitions are revered. It is like the dark ages have reappeared.

I can understand having a difference of opinion on various issues but when ice caps melt and glaciers retreat that is a fact. When atmospheric carbon counts increase what is to be disputed? When human being put large quantities of carbon into the air what is controversial? When 73,000 people die from heat in Europe in one summer(2003) that is a problem that needs attention. I guess you could make an argument in opposition to all of these facts but the argument would be absurd.

Years ago I started a class in Anchorage, Alaska entitle "Environment". It was 1969; the same year as the first Earth Day celebration. I remember talking to my students about how thin the life-giving qualities of our material world was. How we reside and depend on a crust that ranges from just a thousand feet below sea level to just a few thousand feet into the air. Our very existence depends on this thin skin of earth and atmosphere. Now we find that this very zone is under  going massive change because of things that we are doing. The studies have been done and are being done. Facts are multiplying. Yet we continue to abuse this life giving shell. How does that work?

I know that huge corporations have a vested interest in continuing to produce carbon based fuels. They make money at the moment. The people at the top know that their days of filling the atmosphere with carbon are numbered. If corporations were human their long term interest would lie in trying to figure out new processes to provide energy. But they aren't human are they? Corporations are paper entities. Decisions are based on profits; usually short term profits that will satisfy share holders.  The supreme court might consider corporations people but we all know that is another lie, or absurdity. Corporations don't love their grandchildren do they?

One member of our House of Representatives recently replied to a question about global warming with, "The bible doesn't say that there will be another flood. We don't have to worry about the seas rising." Then there are the creationist who believe they should be recognized in science classes. How do we deal with these kind of people?

This is a real problem. We love our grandchildren and want to leave them at least a fighting chance to enjoy a brief existence on this planet. But there seems to be a concentrated effort to make their life much more difficult if not impossible.

What do retired people talk about? Lots of the talk is about our grandchildren and the world they will inherit. Maybe if we were really smart we would manufacture some sort of story or fantasy that would lay hold of the imagination and re-establish trust in science. One thing for sure; we can't rely on people being reasonable. We can't rely on facts. We have to think of something else.

This is Retirement Talk.    






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