Lawrence MacDonald

Lawrence MacDonald

Lawrence MacDonald is a writer, policy communications expert, and Boomer climate activist. Born in the middle of the Baby Boom generation, he believes that American Baby Boomers are the generation most responsible for the climate emergency and that he and fellow U.S. Boomers have the power to avert the worst impacts of climate change if they reconnect with their youthful ideals.

His life experience led him to view climate change through a lens of inter-generational and global justice. After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Asian Studies, he studied Chinese in Taiwan and worked as a journalist for 15 years in Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, and Manila. Returning to the United States in the early 1990s, he worked at the World Bank as the founding editor of a series of solution-oriented policy research reports on such issues as the East Asian “economic miracle,” poverty reduction, trade, finance, HIV/AIDS, and public information disclosure to reduce pollution and tropical deforestation

He then worked as vice president of communications at the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington DC think tank focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful (countries, corporations, and international institutions) that impact poor people in the developing world. While at CGD he learned about the global and inter-generational injustice of climate change and observed how Boomer-led U.S. policy was undermining the fragile international consensus for action.

To work full-time on climate change and other environmental issues, he became vice president of communications at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a global think-and-do tank with more than 1,500 employees, including offices in all of the world's biggest emerging economies.

In his personal capacity, over the past 10 years, MacDonald has become increasingly active in the U.S. climate movement, participating in civil disobedience actions in Washington, DC, where he was twice arrested in protests in front of the White House opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline. Since stepping down from WRI in early 2022 he has been a grassroots climate organizer, founding a Dayenu Climate Action Circle at his synagogue in northern Virginia and serving as co-coordinator of the northern Virginia hub of Th!rdAct, a new movement founded by climate action leader Bill McKibben to organize experienced Americans to protect U.S. democracy and push for U.S. climate action. In early 2022 he was arrested while protesting at a coal plant in West Virginia owned by Sen. Joe Manchin, who was blocking landmark climate legislation while earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year from coal operations in the state.

MacDonald draws on extensive research and his lived experience as a Boomer, policy communications expert, and emerging climate activist to set out a path for his fellow Boomers to face up to their generational responsibilities and use the power their generation still has to avert the worst aspects of the climate crisis.

He and his wife live in Arlington Virginia and have two grown children who are also active in the climate movement, a daughter who lives in San Francisco and works as an organizer for Dayenu, a Jewish Call for Climate Action, and a son who lives in New Orleans, where he is active in the local Sunrise hub.

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