Don’t blame the boomers alone

It’s worth considering a few facts about us before you ladle all the world’s problems onto one generation.

baby boomers generation

When we were children we wore mainly woollen and cotton clothes. The average hoody, jeans and trainers outfit now contains the equivalent of ten plastic bottles. Our clothes were kept and used until they wore out, not just until they had been worn out – once or twice.

We struggled to buy a house, we were limited to three times one salary for a mortgage and paid interest rates of up to 18% pa.

Free education up to the age of eighteen was provided then and now, but only 9% of us went on to university education. Now near 50% of young people go to university – mainly because universities are now businesses who need consumers.

We were low energy consumers. When we were at university the vast majority of us couldn’t afford to go to clubs, eat fast food or own a car. Electronics consisted of a calculator.

Holidays were taken once a year, usually without flying anywhere.

Home entertainment was a board game, not an energy consuming piece of electronics.

We worked all summer, at Christmas and in the Easter holidays to fund our education. Many of worked during the evenings too, in restaurants as waiting staff and in pubs. Low pay, no minimum wage and no contract.

Those phones that you might change every couple of years use huge amounts of energy to make and distribute, they also exploit third world and child labour. Most are never recycled. We didn’t have mobile phones, laptops or tablets. We wrote longhand on recyclable materials.

Emails, web browsing, tweeting and posing on social media are not carbon neutral methods of communication. Take emails for example

“When you are typing, your computer is using electricity. When you press ‘send’ it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.” Mike Berners-Lee (brother of the inventor of the internet)

Transport was by bicycle, bus, or walking. Most of us didn’t have parents who owned cars when we were young, there was no home taxi service. The same was was true for getting to and from school.

We protested about about nuclear weapons, racial segregation and superpowers waging war in third world countries. We didn’t vilify people on social media who we didn’t really understand.

This is not a whinge, we just don’t deserve all the blame. One thing we learned to do was listen and try to understand other people’s point of view – a skill that has now sadly been lost.

Yours very sincerely, A Boomer