We are Climate Activists. Don’t Call Us Grannies.

by | Feb 15, 2024 | Climate Action, Philosophy | 0 comments

An Inside Climate News article about the strong, experienced women in the climate struggle calls us “Grannies.”  I strenuously object.

Don’t call us Grannies. We are white-haired women who are doing everything we can to stop the suicidal cruelty of the fossil-fuel economy. We are experienced. We are courageous. We are smart and sometimes even wise. We are truth-tellers. We are, in my town, about the only ones who are showing up for the struggle.

‘Grannies’ is the last pejorative label standing, after polite society has thought better of racist and sexist name-calling. ‘Grannies’ conjures false and degrading images of rocking chairs and whiskey; just as racists insults carry false and degrading images.  And don’t call us ‘women of a certain age,’ as if ‘sixty’ or ‘seventy’ were dirty words. We are Elders, and we carry with us the wisdom of many decades.

We have lived long and learned much. We know the courage it takes to stand against the status quo – we’ve been doing it all our lives. We know how silencing works, and the costs of telling the truth. We know how brutal hierarchies can be – we’ve stood on the bottom rungs. We know what it means when sickened children suffer –we have held their hands and wiped their spit through long nights. We know how thoroughly extractive industries have poisoned the world  – we carry the toxins in our breasts. We know the teenagers’ despair, looking into a ruined world – we have hidden their deadly pills.

Meanwhile, we have watched young parents working so hard to get ahead, to get ahead, never looking ahead. We have watched the newly retired – stubbornly claiming the right to be useless.

We also know the miracle of a healthy baby, and a child’s delight in birdsong. We know the wonders of a tideflat and the gift of fresh water. We know the magic of human imagination, creating new lifeways of renewal and redemption. We believe it is possible to live on this beautiful planet without wrecking it. That civilization has not managed this breaks our hearts.

As for me, I am no longer a young woman. I carry my years on thick yellow bones. My hair has faded to the color of milk. My feet are wide. My knees crackle like flames. The tides no longer ebb and flow in my body. But from where I stand, I can clearly see the future. It is a betrayal of the past. It breaks the promises we made to the children: I will keep you safe. I will give you the world.

If we women climate activists have only a few decades left on this lovely, reeling planet, then grant us the respect we earn when say what is in our hearts: Climate change is a betrayal of the children; we will not allow it. Grant us the dignity we earn when we tell the truth: It is wrong to wreck the world. And to do that for runaway selfish gain is a cosmic crime that will echo through the galaxy, long after there are no men to profit and their bitcoins and diamonds have all gone to dust.

Call us women. Call us angry. Call us heartbroken. Call us relentless. Just don’t call us ‘Grannies.’

News Archive

If you are looking for a holiday gift for your nature-loving and/or environmental-activist friends, please think of Kathleen’s Take Heart: Encouragement for Earth’s Weary Lovers.

Join Kathleen Moore and Charles Goodrich in a discussion of his new novel, Weave Me a Crooked Basket, Monday, November 20 @ 7pm (PT) Powell’s City of Books

Here’s Kathleen’s hard-hitting article, “Clean Natural Gas is a Dirty Deception.”

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment just published Kathleen’s “The perilous and important art of definition: the case of the old-growth forest.” Read it here.

Earth’s Wild Music is a Chicago Review of Books Must-Read Book of the Month. Read the review here.

Read Kathleen’s new article, “How Big Oil is Manipulating How You Think about Climate Change,’ in Salon.com.

Kathleen and her colleague, Michael P. Nelson, apologize to the world for the damage done by racist and cruel Enlightenment philosophies. See “Did Philosophy Ruin the Earth? A philosopher’s letter of apology to the world” in Salon. 

Hear Kathleen speak about “Gratitude as a Way of Life” in the Natural History Institute’s Reciprocal Healing series.

Hear a new composition for English horn, based on Kathleen’s glacier essay, “The Sound of Mountains Melting,” from Earth’s Wild Music, written and performed by Chris Zatarain.

Three of Kathleen’s essays – “Swallows, Falling,” “Common Murre,” and “Dawn Chorus” are published in a new collection that celebrates birds, Dawn Songs, edited by Jamie K. Reaser and J. Drew Lanham.