The 20th of September 2019 saw the most widespread eruption of climate change demonstrations since the issue of greenhouse gas emissions caused by a high-carbon economy began to be recognised as a major problem. 5,000 demos all around the world, trying to express to governments the vital and urgent need to make immediate changes to the way energy is produced by reducing, or preferably cutting out entirely, reliance on fossil fuels and generally moving to a low-carbon economy. The need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases is not new, but the 2018 school strike of Greta Thunberg has finally lit the blue touch-paper of public outrage to the point where these demos are happening and public opinion cannot be ignored.
While it is activism that is largely powered by the energy of young people, many older people have also been active in publicising this issue over the years. Unfortunately, it is also the case that many of the older generations who are in positions of great power and influence have been using that power and influence in the opposite direction. Denier-in-chief Trump is foremost among them, but they include now Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and plenty in the UK as well.
It is always said that young people are the future of the planet, and in these demos they rightly demand that action is taken so that their futures will not be blighted by the past and present actions of those who are already much further along the path of their own lives.
But, counter intuitive as it may seem, we believe that older people are also the future of the planet. This is because while it is undeniable that young people are the future, the reason that older people are also the future is that the young of today are the older people of tomorrow. The future of today’s young people is to be the older people of the future.
We are told that people born today will be living to a greater age than previous generations so, with luck, every one of the young people taking part in these demonstrations will live a long, long life. And while it is imperative that they demand and make every effort to ensure that the planet is cared for and maintained in a condition suitable for human life now and in the future, each of the young people demonstrating needs to think about how they themselves will be in 50 or 60 years time when they will be in their seventies or eighties, even beyond that age.
Will they be adding to the so-called time bomb of the ‘ageing population’, that is only ever referred to as a burden on society, looked after in care homes because they are unable to live independent, self-reliant lives? Or will they take action on their own behalf and prevent the physical deterioration generally associated with the latter part of what is currently predicted to be a longer and longer lifespan. Will they be able to still be a contributor to society rather than an encumbrance on it?
It has been shown time and again that having at an older age the strength and fitness usually associated with younger age is absolutely the key to a better quality of life during that older age. The best way to have the strength and fitness you need is to maintain it from the younger age when you have it in abundance rather than letting it go, wanting it back and then having to work many times harder to regain it.
So whether you train for a particular sport or train for life, alongside campaigning for a better future for the planet make sure to keep yourself in the best shape you can in order to enjoy your own future.
With apologies to an advertising campaign from the nineteen nineties, the future’s bright - the future’s Silver Grey.