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Climate Change Interview 3: Retired Hospice Nurse - Oregon, Wisconsin

Live Interview

Susie Romano – Silent Generation – Retired Hospice Nurse, Mother of 3 & Grandmother of 10

Child with wagon full of fallen leaves

1. What are your thoughts when you hear that the climate is warming, the environment is being destroyed and that humans are the cause?

“I’m terrified at the thought of it. I think of the people who are in countries that are poverty stricken where they don’t have enough clean water now or they are in areas that have a lot of air pollution. Climate change is going to increase those conditions. That terrifies me. The death and destruction in those countries that are on the coasts throughout the world when the sea levels rise. Even in the United States, in all our coastal areas there will be great problems.”

2. In your mind what are the forces that drive climate change and environmental degradation?

“I think number one force is ignorance on all of our parts and even those who know that climate change is happening don’t know what to do about it. And then there is the fact that people in poverty areas of the globe don’t have access to the news and information about what is going on nor do they have the resources necessary to make changes if they wanted to. We are talking about billions of people.”

“Even here many people are not getting accurate news, so they don’t think that climate change is really happening. There are news sources that say that this climate change is all a lie so don’t worry about it. Then, those who do believe it and want to do something about are finding its so hard to know exactly what to do.”

3. Has your life been affected in any way? If so, how?

“Many times, during the day I think about climate change. I think about it much more than I did even five years ago. Even though I knew about it 30 years ago I’m thinking about it much, much more than I did. Now as I look around the house, I’m thinking about the paper toweling I’m using and how many plastic bottles we have in the house. How am I going to replace them? What am I going to do with all the stuff I have? I talk about it at home a lot. Sometimes I get aggravated.”

“Then I think about my neighbors and daily living. It’s around me all the time. I keep thinking about it. I guess I’m becoming more aware. That awareness is gradual, but we have to get there.”

4. In your opinion, what needs to be done?

“My gut feeling is that we have to educate younger kids and teenagers. When I taught childbirth classes and when I taught grief support (Susie worked in a hospice) I went to grade schools and high schools in the community I lived in. We believed that you needed to educate the young people about childbirth and about handling grief. They all had experienced the loss of someone in their family, usually older, and it was important to understand grief at an early age, so when they became adults they were better able to handle it.”

“When we were young, we really didn’t know about climate change so it is difficult to accept, but we can teach the younger ones what is going on and what needs to happen. Some of them are already quite worried about it and they need to speak up."

5. Do you consider yourself part of the problem or part of the solution?

“Both. That was a quick answer. Sometimes I don’t realize that I am adding to the problem because everything in my life is automatic. I catch myself later on after the deed is done. Then, I do a lot of things I don’t ever catch. That worries me. I don’t lose sleep over it, but we need to move forward.”

“We can’t take back what we did in our younger life and all those years we added to pollution. We can make changes though and that is exactly what we have to do. We can’t go backwards. We have to go forward even if it is one step at a time.”

6. What do you think the long-term outcome of climate change and environmental degradation will be?

“Well, as we talked about earlier, all those people in poorer countries and living on coastlines and islands are probably not going to make it. I’m really concerned. What can you do about it? It has to be one step at a time but that isn’t going to help those in the frontlines of climate change. I think there is going to be a tremendous loss of lives. We can’t even comprehend it now.”

“I do believe that we can turn it around. Lives and land will be gone but I think we are going to make it because that is who we are. Somehow, we manage to make it through. I really believe that.”

“We may have to go door to door to get people going. I wouldn’t do that for a politician but for this I would.”


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