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Changeletter: fun bite-sized climate action plans

If you’re reading this, you’re getting older 😛

Published about 1 year ago • 3 min read


May 2023: Growing old in a warming world

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Current module: READ

  • 🎯 READ: Why older adults are uniquely vulnerable to climate change
  • 🔜 WATCH: How intergenerational living can increase our happiness and longevity
  • 🔜 ACT: What YOU can do right now and in the future to respect your elders ;)
  • 🔜 REFLECT: A magical movement for changing the way we relate to aging

Modules reach your inbox every Wednesday of the month (PST)!


Reader

Last week, I went to an awards ceremony hosted by Justice in Aging, an organization in the United States that fights senior poverty through law. It was AMAZING!

I was there as a +1 to my aunt, Dr. Donna Benton. She’s SUPER low key about her accomplishments and I’m sure she’ll be mad at me for putting her on blast like this 💝 but I must tell you: she’s a Professor of Gerontology at USC, the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, the Director of the USC Family Caregiver Support Center, and MUCH MORE. Basically, the gathering I attended had top experts in the field of aging and elder care. As I talked to them (#networking), I learned that even the experts are struggling to understand how to loop in climate justice into their policy decisions.

So that’s what this month’s changeletter is about: growing old in a warming world.

This is relevant to you for one of three reasons:

  1. you’re an older adult,
  2. you care about an older adult, or
  3. you’re going to be in one of those categories in the next decade.

We're at a significant crossroads, and we must ask ourselves how to get creative about the world we want our future selves and our current elders to live in! We are all getting old, and I personally want to do it in style.

Bonus resource: Soapbox member Dan Vekhter wrote an article last week for his newsletter, "Environ / mental health", on the power of asking more expansive questions. Reply to this email with an expansive question you're asking about your climate journey, whether it's related to aging or not!


Your bite-sized action plan Reader

We’re going to go over some quick facts on why aging is becoming a crisis instead of a natural thing we all do, and how that’s exacerbated by climate change. Read the articles for a deeper dive!

The freaky facts 🥲

Let’s start with this 2019 New York Times article on how older people are contributing to and suffering from climate change. Elderly people will be disproportionately affected by:

  • Extreme heat. Researcher Patrick Kinney says, “certain medications older people take, for blood pressure or cholesterol, reduce the body’s ability to thermo-regulate.” Also, heat puts stress on all our bodies, but the stronger (and generally younger) we are, the better we’re able to cope.
  • Social isolation. Older adults (especially in countries like the United States) may be less able to seek help in a crisis, whether that’s wildfires, flooding, heat, or something else.
  • Impaired cognitive function. Most of us lose cognitive function in our later stages of life, and will be less able to judge what to do. The NYT article tells us, “The air pollution often associated with heat waves intensifies the problems. The Chicago heat wave of July 1995, for instance, caused 514 heat-related deaths; people older than 65 accounted for 72 percent of the fatalities.”
  • Blackouts. “Older people may become unable to use power scooters and wheelchairs, refrigerate medications or summon help. After Sandy, many were trapped in high-rise apartments without functioning elevators.”

The good news

  • Older adults have DECADES of knowledge on how the world has changed, and they play a key role in climate solutions. Plus, especially if they’re retired, they have more time and resources to help. More on this in our ACT module!
  • When we protect the most vulnerable members of our society, we protect everyone! This TIME article cites finding green ways to cool down cities, improving early warning systems, and rolling out clean energy to reduce emissions as three key examples.
  • The notion that older adults care less about climate change than young adults, at least in the United States, holds true only for Republicans!

Most of us care about the same things. We have WAY more allies than we think. And most importantly, we all deserve to live our best lives with our best friends on the best planet, regardless of how old we are.

And I’m SO excited for next week’s WATCH module on intergenerational housing!

See you then Reader,

Nivi

Changeletter: fun bite-sized climate action plans

Nivi Achanta

I run Soapbox Project, a friendly community for busy people to conquer their climate anxiety through a combination of personal responsibility, collective action, and fun. Sign up for our free bite-sized action plans (aka Changeletters) that I write every week!

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