On Being a Grandparent

By Thomas G Wells, CR, CSBA

My Grandmother was born in 1895. She witnessed incredible progress in her lifetime – the introduction of automobiles, electric lights, and powered flight. She witnessed social events like the New Deal and the March on Washington. . She also witnessed horrible social catastrophes like WWI, the crash of 1929, WWII, the Viet Nam War. We lived close by and would often spend a Sunday afternoon at her home, until her death in 1973. She was born in the 19th century and here I am living in the 21st.

That realization – that three generations of a family can have their feet in two or three separate centuries – came to me when I was watching one of many TV documentaries that describe the effects of Global Warming by the year 2100. Scientists are predicting that the planet is going to be a lot hotter then, possibly 3 to 4 degree hotter on average. A hotter plant means rising sea levels, destruction of forests and crop lands, social upheaval. Can that be possible? What will Bucks County be like then? Like my Grandmother trying to imagine my 2008, it is hard to relate to those global impacts that will be common place in the 22nd century.

If my children have children, it’s very likely that those grandchildren of mine will have feet in 2100 and beyond. It might be hard to imagine what the 22nd century will be like, but imagine we must! We must not only imagine, we must act now to do something about it. The unborn grandchild, who I will someday hold in my arms, is going to be living with the consequences of what we now do or now don’t to protect our planet. Just as my Grandmother’s generation had to severely adapt to war and economic crashes, this generation must change our habits to the realities of diminishing oil, increasing CO2 levels, inequitable distribution of resources and wealth and a warming planet. The immediacy of our predicament may not be as readily apparent as it was to my Grandmother in those difficult times, but the consequences are as grave, if not more so, for us and our grandchildren.

All change starts with the individual taking personal responsibility and acting on it. Here are a few suggestions that can help save energy, save you some money, do something for the planet and all our grandchildren of the future:

1) Slow down in the car: it’s safer and saves a lot of gas and money.
2) Turn off the AC and the Heat for a few hours everyday.
3) Get an Energy Audit of your home. This will identify areas where air is infiltrating into the house envelope and provide you with strategies for filling the voids. If you are considering adding insulation to your attic, make sure you search for holes where air is coming up through the ceiling into the attic. Get a hatch or attic stairs cover. Look into dense pack cellulose and spray foam insulations. Floors are not as important as walls and ceilings in terms of payback.
4) Look into LED and florescent lighting. Most major lighting manufactures have lots of variety in florescent. We recently completed a Green kitchen remodel which used nothing but LED and florescent lights to good effect. Getting in touch with the future grandparent in me has put a lot of what I do on a daily basis in perspective. I know that I am not going to make it to 2100, but I will pretty soon know someone who will. Camara . Let’s do something great for them – Stop Global Warming and get off Mid-East Oil.

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