In actuality, masses of the older adult population can respond to the climate change crisis with engagement as many carry knowledge and experience in the environmental sector, and many wish to improve the quality of the world that they will leave for their grandchildren. Although media organizations and lawmakers often convey a story of climate reform that suggests younger people can be climate activists and older persons cannot, not one age group can afford to be alienated from efforts to combat our diminishing ecosystems. By ostracizing older adults from the conversation on climate justice (despite their sensitivity to environmental hazards) media channels and legislators jeopardize the generational adaptability of all communities and dishonor the legitimate interests of older persons in a clean atmosphere.
To mobilize or to silence groups of people in the climate reform movement is a matter of life or death for our civilization on Earth. Yet, the older adult community continues to lack inclusion in action steps organized to mitigate the climate change crisis regardless of the fact that they are marginally endangered by its consequences. How can everyone have a seat at the table? Researchers point to intergenerational justice as one solution.
Intergenerational justice is a distributive form of equity in which present generations hold moral obligations to future generations. Intergenerational equity as a concept stems from the idea of a human-rights based humanity, a world in which people are assessed on their own merits and maintain equal access to opportunities. It is the understanding that people have different standards for life that evolve over time, and thus current generations are responsible for providing future populations with options for how they can fulfill their values in coming times. The principle is that all generations are allies in ensuring that the agendas of each age group are met at comparable quality as they are translated from one community to another. Therefore, intergenerational justice calls for every person’s rights to be realized on the same scale, and the volume of that work requires existing age groups to rally against intergenerational conflicts.
Best Practices for Implementing Intergenerational Justice
Raising awareness on the impact of ageism
While seemingly invisible, ageism is pervasive and has evident detrimental impacts on the perception of adults as they age. It facilitates injustice and violence against individuals of all ages by isolating people from their human rights and hindering opportunities for cross-generational relationship building. Additionally, it disproportionately restricts low socioeconomic persons and those with disabilities from obtaining agency in diverse political, social, and economic systems. Because media reporters and legislators tend to pinpoint the sentiments of younger generations in climate reform activism, they often frame aging as a negative process and separate the demands of older adults from environmental action. As this biased viewpoint is circulated between populations, older generations are denied access to power, including: the laws, social norms, and institutions that underlie their basic freedoms. By educating climate justice investors on the ramifications of age-based discrimination, the benefits of old age, and existing social justice initiatives lead by older adults, our society can amplify the lived experience of aging and disrupt the dysfunctions within our systems that disempower older communities from creating change.
Highlighting age diversity at the core of media reporting and policy development
Age diversity refers to the acceptance of all ages in an enterprise. It reflects the greater reality that aging is a function of life that is unique to each person. While it is true that people vary in competency, intellect, and culture, our society tends to divide populations into groups based on identifying factors such as gender or race. This order fails to encompass the extent to which every person carries a different individuality, and that personhood relates to numerous experiences that often extend farther than the limits that society creates for who someone can be. As a result of these misconceptions, underrepresented communities such as the older adult population tend to encounter systemic and interpersonal barriers in the process of claiming their rights and practicing allyship. Through maintaining a language for covering world problems that appreciates age diversity, media experts and legislators can maximize every person’s role in achieving intergenerational goals like environmental justice. The scope of this investment involves correcting ageist rhetoric riddled in responses to global issues, and leveraging the contributions made by people of all ages.
Intergenerational justice emphasizes the value of older and younger generations coming together in mutual respect to actualize the lifetime of wisdom and skills offered by people of diverse ages. While it is difficult to predict all of the forthcoming problems facing our society, we can design a framework for conflict resolution that permits individuals of all ages to be players in collaborative interventions against world issues. As climate change is a high-priority problem with momentous implications for all, older generations can no longer be gatekept from environmental justice measures. If there is any will to decrease the growing inequalities between people of different ages, older adults must be extended a political-legal platform to advocate for the conservation of Earth’s natural resources alongside younger adults. By generating solidarity between older and younger communities, intergenerational justice and environmental equity can be achieved in a manner that enables older adults to live safe and dignified lives as they age, and liberates the next change leaders as they strive to build a healthier world.