Do you really adore your grandchildren?
You remember their birthdays, take them to ballgames, and cheer at their school pageants when you can.
Keep doing all that.
But they're going to grow up. They're going to see the world through grown-up eyes. And they're going to know what we did to make their world a better — or worse — place.
So we have a choice.
We can be remembered as the generation that decided to keep depending on oil, despite the all-too-evident risks of drilling for oil in our oceans or overreliance on importing it from foreign nations. And as the generation that decided to keep depending on electricity made without consideration for carbon pollution dumped into the air.
Or, our grandkids can warmly remember us as the ones who pushed America to make the transition to clean energy. The ones who saw that smarter energy choices would cut pollution while creating millions of new jobs.
Jobs for your grandkids. And mine.
Jobs for every variety of grandchild. Constructing wind turbines. Designing solar panels. Planning sustainable biomass projects. Programming the smart grid. Weatherizing homes. Designing new buildings that sip energy instead of gulping it. And, yes, manufacturing the thousands of things we'll need to make this historic transition.
So what can we grandmas and grandpas do to get there? Naturally, we can clean up our own act — like making our own homes energy efficient. That's a smart move anyway.
But even more important, we need to do something as a nation. And that means we've got to get Congress to act.
Not someday. Not next year. This year.
Luckily, it's not too late for the United States to do for clean energy what companies like Google and Apple have done for computing: dazzle the world with our brilliance and leadership. And enjoy the business opportunities — and jobs — that go with it.
But we need to move fast.
Scientists tell us the most dramatic harm from climate change will happen when our grandkids are grown-ups. To avoid those impacts, we urgently need to start making the shift to clean energy now — both because the shift won't happen overnight, and because the heat-trapping gases linger in the atmosphere for many decades after they're released.
There's another reason we need to act quickly.
Congress — specifically, the Senate — is looking hard at clean energy legislation.
As in this year. As in right now.
And there's this thing about Washington: If they swing and miss on a big issue during one Congress, they tend to put down their bats for the next one. So Congress needs to hear right now that the public wants clean energy.
That's where we grandmas and grandpas come in.
Companies that benefit from business as usual will be spending millions of dollars to tell Congress to sit tight. To paint a bleak picture of a clean energy future. And to try to lull the country into continuing our addiction to imported oil and old and outdated ways of powering our homes and businesses.
Happily, there are a lot of farsighted companies that know we can do better. And they're doing their best to be heard in Washington too.
But what our senators really need is to hear from ordinary people. Especially those of us with a few decades behind us. Because older voters know when it's Election Day, and they know where the polling place is. And politicians know that.
So pick up a pen, or a phone, or a keyboard, and let your senators know we want them to support a strong clean energy bill. One that will protect the beautiful planet our beautiful grandkids will inherit. One that will spark the economic growth our grandkids deserve.
One that will show them how much we love them.
Oscar-winning actress and environmental activist Joanne Woodward is a longtime supporter and Trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund.