‘We are the custodians of the past, but we are still stakeholders in the future’

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In this poignantly honest and inspiring blog, Rod Crichton, BOLD Climate Action member, chronicles his ‘climate action journey’ from his childhood up until now, and underlines the significant role older people - and organisations like BOLD - can play in tackling the climate crisis. 


I grew up as a boy in the 1960s, a youth in the 1970s, turning 21 in 1980. The anxieties of my younger years were largely around the looming sense that nuclear apocalypse could have occurred anytime. Environmental issues were always in the background though, through the 1970s, but the climate crisis, or climate change as it was then labelled, came fully to my attention in the later 1980s when the Cold War came to an end and mainstream media started to give some prominence to the studies that showed the projected climate threats to our world. 

The Gaia concept of James Lovelock chimed with the New Age/ mystical/ more positive era of the late 80s/early 90s. In retrospect, that seems to be a period of lost innocence – where we thought the neoliberal elites would put their money where their mouths were and do whatever it took to address these concerns.

Instead, as we moved forward, it became clear that Big Oil, and Big Everything Else, was going to seek to obfuscate, delay and stymy attempts to truly tackle the evolving climate breakdown – how chilling to recognise their cynicism as we go forward into the 21st century and we can see the climate impacts are playing out daily, with ever worsening outcomes. 

It is truly breathtaking  that the science behind climate breakdown was known by oil companies in the 1970s and that they chose to try to bury that knowledge, and continue to do so. Just as the tobacco industry continues to deal in death, so do all these major industries that show cavalier disregard for the human race. The politicians’ weasel words try vainly to square a circle between pronouncements on climate action and desire to do as little as possible to offend the Big Players in whose pockets they evidently reside.
In my own life, I was a dentist until retirement in 2022 – the demands of providing care, running a business and having a young family took up so much of my physical, mental and emotional resources. In theory, now as I am retired, I have liberation from obligations. But rather than just being able to hear the sweet melody of freedom, behind it all, my ears cannot be closed to the thunderous echoes from the mounting drumbeat of humanity’s war on the climate. 
Getting into BOLD Climate Action for me is an attempt to join with like-minded souls who choose to acknowledge this and to try to act for positive change. BOLD, for now, is very much in the planning stages, but I am welcoming the chance to move from bleak focus on anxieties to purposeful activity.



Older people generally don’t feature in the commonly perceived narrative of climate activism. Intense and angry young representatives for climate justice are right to fight to try to turn the wheel away from a future direction that can only be a hellscape. Those that hold the power want evidently to shut these young people down – delegitimise and disenfranchise them. To do far worse to them if need be. They and their descendants are the ones who will have to try to live with the choices our generation and our representatives have made and forced on them. We need to stand in solidarity. Do we forget those young ones are our descendants? Do we care so little for our future blood? Even if we have no children of our own, is humanity not truly but one family? Remember the thought that we are all offspring of a single ancient mother…

We have a responsibility as elders to try belatedly to be wiser. We should understand that we were so lucky to be beneficiaries of a golden period of growth without major conflict, which is unlikely to be seen again any time soon. We should stop and think when our heedless pension choices lead us to blindly invest into the fossil fuel industry. When our globetrotting causes vast plumes of greenhouse gases and pollution to be excreted. And when our disregard for the inequalities that are right in front of us in our own country - and are to be found especially in the less developed world - force others to exist largely on the scraps that fall from our groaning table. We need to stop treating the world like a box of chocolates that we can gorge on and distractedly spit out when we don’t like the taste, leaving future generations lacking and having to clean up the mess.   

I hope BOLD can bring new awareness to the plight of the older members of society that have not been so fortunate – who are suffering due to the lopsided neoliberal agendas which continue to reward lucky ones and shun those who didn’t get a place at the table. I hope that BOLD can seek to extend the awareness of other excluded groups to the elder members of society, in a spirit of solidarity. I hope that older people can begin to see they have a role and a responsibility to make their voices heard by those who hold the power. I hope that BOLD can help to turn the significant power held by older members of society to work for the greater good of the environment.
We are the custodians of the past, but we are still stakeholders in the future.



BOLD Climate Action was set up by older people for older people as both a space for coming together to take climate action collectively, but also importantly a space for mutual support and empowering older people through peer learning and engagement. Read more about BOLD Climate Action here.

Watch a video on one of our recent events here. Read an overview of the Bold Climate Action Dialogue and Action series here. This BOLD dialogue and action series is part of a wider Global Citizenship Education project, ‘Collaborating to help build an inclusive and diverse movement with the knowledge and skills to be active global citizens committed to a fairer and more sustainable future for all.’ Funded by Irish Aid and Concern, supported by Friends of the Earth.