Seniors Taking Action

...by Annie Phillips

These Puget Sound area seniors hope to inspire you with their stories of activism against climate change. Perhaps, like them, you are charging ahead to do all you can. Some may follow Jane Goodall’s advice, who—at age 87— continues to work for a more sustainable future. She says if you care about your kids and grandkids, you will act. “You don’t have to do it all at once…take one thing…just do something.” 


Annie Phillips

The climate crisis is on most people’s radar these days – especially young people who will be most impacted by it. I have seven grandchildren, and sometimes I feel so guilty because I’ve only recently turned my activism toward slowing down climate change. Twelve years ago, I converted my oil furnace to an electric heat pump, weatherized my home, bought an electric car and put solar panels on the roof. Then, inspired by then-teen Greta Thunberg, I turned to grassroots politics, lobbying lawmakers to speed up and fund climate action, and donating to nonprofits like Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and 350. org (350 parts per million is the safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere). Doing things, instead of sitting home worrying, helps me feel better about our chances of surviving as a planet and a species. 

Many seniors wish they had more time to do something about it. Here are some thoughts from three Northwest seniors.


Kate Richardson

Kate Richardson: “It all boils down to love and compassion. Ours is an amazing planet; visually stunning, complex in arrangement and function, with remarkably intricate lifeforms, and always a challenge to curiosity and examination. I hate to think that humanity, with all our ability to discover, examine, understand and invent, can't come together to make the changes necessary to draw back from the edge of disaster, reverse the warming and save enough of the natural world to keep this planet livable. What can I do? Keep learning and enjoying what we have, prod elected representatives to take urgent action to reduce warming, and find citizen groups whose interests and actions you can work with.” 


Terry Jorgenson

Terry Jorgensen: “Until recently, as a lucky retired guy from Seattle, I’ve been impacted by many of the effects of climate changes and the compounding effect of population, pollution and poor stewardship of our land and water. I couldn’t help but notice the obvious reduction of glaciers, increased pollution and extreme weather events during my lifetime. I have joined a number of national, state and community climate action and sustainability groups to become more educated and advocate for change. We can all help by being involved and making thoughtful, educated choices to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on natural resources.”


Susan Oakley

Susan Oxley: “We face a grim future of compromised agriculture, drying rivers, loss of habitat and species extinction. My grandkids face an energy-poor lifestyle, scarce resources, decreased opportunities and increased weather crises. For seniors like me, it means costly food, increased insurance premiums and greater risk of heatstroke, lung damage and stress diseases. Seniors can help mitigate the effects by investing in clean energy, insulating better, switching to more energy-efficient appliances, and decreasing cruises and sightseeing. Eat less meat, garden more, choose green, decrease spending, refuse plastic bags. Plant trees. Advocate for green policies. Be grateful for what we have and let it be sufficient. Live gratitude, not consumption!” 

Seniors who want to take action to slow down global warming can contact their local chapter of 350.org – there are chapters on every continent. Younger folks can join www.sunrisemovement.org, a youth movement to stop climate change.