Wednesday, June 26, 2019
A colleague and dear friend of mine is doing amazing work to combat climate change. I have on several occasions told him he should look at the impact of climate change on elders but never have I thought about the role of elders in contributing to climate change.... until now. Last month the New York Times ran an article, Older People Are Contributing to Climate Change, and Suffering From It.
Not only have elders seen climate change happening, according to the article, "Older Americans ... are significant contributors to climate change. A just-published study has found that residential energy consumption rises as a resident’s age increases." The article examines the why of this and although "[t]he study could not provide explanations, but“there might be more need for air-conditioning,” ... [o]r older people may not be able to maintain their homes as well to conserve energy....." Living in one of those southern states where air conditioning is a must and on extremely hot days we get warnings about certain folks needing to stay in air conditioning, I can say the researcher was right on that reason.
The article notes that there is a vicious cycle occurring-"There will be more warm days in most areas because of climate change... [and] more energy use by the older group... [with] the population aging, there will be more people in that age group.'"
The article goes on to discuss how older people are disproportionately affected by climate extremes and disasters. Fighting climate change should be one of our top priorities because we are all affected by it-but clearly our older folks are affected more than most.
Thank you Roy for all of your work.