There are other senior citizens groups getting serious about climate change. You may already be part of one of them, or you may know of others. If the latter, please use our contact form (below, or on the Join us! page) to tell us about them.
But April 22nd 2020 was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Tipped off by a family member, I logged into an online event, featuring a conversation between Greta Thunberg (needing no introduction) and Johan Rockström (leading scientist on Planetary Boundaries). Johan’s exhortation to “make yourself better informed… talk to other people …” was one of the catalysts that got me thinking towards this website and then the Candles For Change initiative.
Johan also spoke persuasively at the TEDx Stockholm Countdown event in November. Well worth watching some of this. (The event proper starts about 3 minutes into the video.)
More recently I found myself glued to the screen through the entirety of the Global launch of the 2020 Lancet Countdown Report. (I can’t get the Event replay links at the top of the page to work, but you might have better luck. The ones at the bottom of the page do work though, and are well worth checking out.) Both hard-hitting and inspiring, the testimonies by a mix of citizens in the front line and top-level health experts and policy makers from around the planet really brings home the urgency of the situation we all face.
Just a day before that, on December 2nd, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, made a landmark speech on the state of the planet. You can read about it and watch it here. (It’s also available on the Climate Change section of the main UN website, which is a mine of global information and well worth exploring. There’s a handy little video, for example, explaining ‘What Is the Paris Agreement? And How Does it Work?’)
And during the fortnight before that – 19th November to 1st December, young climate activists came together from all over the world for MOCK COP26, in their words “to fill the void of the postponed COP26 with a big, inclusive online Mock COP.” Here’s a nice report on it from Channel 4 News’ Fatima Manji.
So the younger generation has been vocal and active during this covid constrained year. Time for we senior citizens to get behind them!
This website is the result of an idea I’ve been mulling over for some time. More recently, as the global catastrophe spread and grew more intense, and realising the increasing influence of the older generation, I felt it was time to act, and given the constraints imposed by the pandemic, a website specifically for we seniors to get together and share ideas seemed a positive first step.
Then on November 11th this year, Remembrance Sunday, I woke with this idea of lighting candles for change. Inspired partly by the impact generated by the weekly public clapping for health and essential service workers in many European countries, but also challenged by my son to find a “School Strike” moment, like that with which Greta Thunberg started the movement that is now Fridays For Future, the candle lighting idea seemed something more appropriate to our generation.
I hastily contacted some friends and was touched by the number of positive responses. Their candles, mostly lit that first Sunday in November, form the background image to our homepage. If you are joining us for the first time, please consider taking a photo of your lighted candle and posting it here.
There’s little doubt that the kind of changes needed to ensure a stable, hospitable and sustainable environment for future generations will require determination and courage from our politicians and leaders. Our generation of over-65s has a hugely important role to play, especially in countries with democratic systems of government, because for the first time in history we outnumber the young adult population. Politicians advocating policies which don’t appeal to our generation are increasingly unlikely to be elected. And however much we may feel it not to be true in yours or my experience, the polling data makes it very clear that the truism still holds that as we grow older we grow more conservative, more resistant to change, wanting to keep things as much as possible as they are. The massive change of direction humanity so desperately needs at this time will not happen unless we oldies get behind it. That’s why one of the commitments we ask is about the way you use your vote.