Barbara Bresler, still crusading at 93
The clock ticks. The world warms. The president scoffs.
Even as some 200 nations agreed at a summit in Poland a few days ago on rules to cut emissions and slow global warming, deniers persist.
Some people throw up their hands.
Barbara “Bobby” Bresler, of Bridgeport, is not one of them.
Bresler, who turned 93 last month, sat the other day at a little round kitchen table in her sixth-floor apartment at The Inwood, an elegant condominium tower at 3200 Park Ave., on the Bridgeport side of the Bridgeport-Fairfield line.
From this elevation, looking south, the view is magnificent. Bresler can see the expanse of Bridgeport below and, on a clear day, the sands of the north shore of Long Island.
Most importantly, she can also see Long Island Sound, the fragile, 1,300 square mile estuary bordered by Connecticut and New York. Some 4 million people live in its coastal communities.
It is a view that reinforces her commitment to the environment.
Five years ago, this table became the command post for a fledgling chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter Bresler started with a handful of friends, including Barbara Edinberg, of Fairfield; Jessica Wolf, of Stratford and Edie Cassidy, of Bridgeport.
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-partisan, nonprofit grassroots organization committed to curbing climate change. The centerpiece of their work is a program called the carbon fee and dividend program. In short, the program would charge companies that burn fossil fuels, the fee to be collected by the U.S. Treasury Department, with those fees returning to the public through a rebate system. The idea, of course, is to discourage the use of fuels that generate greenhouse gases.
The daughter of Russian emigres, Bresler is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she majored in what then was called government. She has lived in Bridgeport and Fairfield most of her adult life. She is the widow of Harvey Bresler, a Bridgeport manufacturer.
Bresler’s resume is packed with activism credentials dating back to the ’60s and the civil rights movement. She has been a member of the NAACP, the (Congress of Racial Equality, Action for Bridgeport Community Development and in 1993 played a role with other Fairfield County women in founding Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), which has been influential in the passage of strict gun laws in Connecticut.
Her latest foray was inspired, she said, some five years ago after she heard Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, a Yale professor and director of the school’s program on climate change communication, give a compelling explanation of the status of global warming.
“I have a great-grandson,” she said the other morning, “and I worry about what kind of world we are going to leave for him.”
“I mean, the air, the ground. Look at the flooding in Miami. I can’t believe more people aren’t taking this seriously. We’re in a dangerous place,” said Bresler, who has three children and three grandchildren.
The effort that Bresler began five years ago has resulted in the creation of a CCL chapter in each of Connecticut’s five congressional districts. “Bobby was the spearhead,” said Wolf.
“Bobby is simply an inspiration,” said Wolf, who met Bresler 25 years ago when they were both working in the area of mental-health advocacy.
Despite her concern for the future of the planet, “I refuse to be pessimistic,” Bresler says.
So she just continues with her work.
“You’re never too old to do something positive,” she said.
Michel J. Daly is retired editor of the Connecticut Post editorial page. Email: email@example.com.