Extreme weather conditions this summer, including heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and severe storms, remind us of the serious threat global warming poses to the planet. As the United States works to pass a package of climate policies to reduce emissions and increase the use of clean energy, individuals may be thinking about what more they can do to help protect the environment.
Frustrated with the lack of climate action taken by those elected to office, younger adults are often vocal in their criticism of their elders for creating an environmental crisis for the next generation. But rather than placing blame, or arguing about politics, parents, grandparents, and youth can learn much from one another and grow closer by working together to achieve positive change at home and in their communities.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Post, older adults are especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, air pollution, and severe weather. Global climate changes affect people of all ages and can impact food production, housing, access to clean water, employment, and sanitation. By working together with a shared goal and finding common ground, intergenerational efforts can more effectively tackle environmental problems.
Older adults not only deeply care about leaving a positive environmental legacy to future generations, they often have a wealth of knowledge, and resources to aid in the fight. Working with younger people is mutually beneficial – older adults can share their skills and experience and in turn gain a greater sense of purpose, meaning, and connection. Intergenerational engagement has been found to reduce social isolation, improve mental health, and help promote the sharing of information between social groups.
Not sure where to begin? The United Nations has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals to create peace and prosperity for people and the planet. You can start small at home by turning off lights and electronics when not in use, repairing household items rather than discarding them (grandparents are experts at this), or composting food scraps. Many of the habits that are good for the environment, like recycling and reusing, are second nature to older adults who grew up during lean times. Younger adults can help seniors save paper by setting up online billing, replacing old light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, or helping to tend a vegetable garden. Learn more by following this link to the UN website and learn about simple steps you can take to help save the world.