We are focusing on the “AARP set,” or those 50+ because of the power this age group wields in Washington. According to the 2010 US Census, Americans ages 18 to 24 vote at the rate of 38%. Those ages 45 to 64, however, vote at a rate of 63.4%, while people 65 years and older vote at an astonishing rate of 69.7%.
When someone 50+ speaks up, legislators see someone who will likely follow up, speak up in their district or state and vote. Many people 50+ are not concerned about climate change, but many are. We don’t need all Americans 50+ to act but we do want people from across the political spectrum to participate. Not as many seniors are conservative, and thus likely to deny climate change, as conventional wisdom would have you believe. According to the AARP, in 2015, 67% of those ages 50 to 64 self-identify as Liberal or “mixed.” Moreover, with the overall numbers in the voting pool low and on the decline, those who do participate and vote often wield influence, especially when they live in a key state or district.
Explaining the power of those 50+ in a 2011 article titled, “Who rules America? AARP.,,” Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post stated “….AARP sets overall priorities. Its power derives from the fear it inspires in senators, representatives, presidents and political candidates. They worry that they’ll be assaulted and rejected by hordes of angry seniors.”
In a January 15, 2015 article on the Grist website titled “Here’s What Climate Activists should do in 2015″ was this quote, “One big common theme: The need to broaden and diversify the climate movement, bringing in low-income communities, people of color, and other groups that haven’t traditionally been engaged in green causes.” Project Green and Grey is doing just that by identifying and activating Americans 50 years and older.
Bottom line, this group is one of the voices missing from the climate movement and up until this point has not been organized in an intentional, exclusive way at the level of Project Green and Grey.