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Climate change debate heats up

22 Oct 2009

As the climate change debate rages on, with the International Day of Climate Change on 24 October and the countdown to Copenhagen well under way, is there is a glimmer of hope that people are starting to make the link between climate change and ageing?

Twice this week while watching the news and reading articles online, I was amazed, surprised and thrilled simultaneously.

News outlets were mentioning older people when referring to the challenges the world faces due to climate change. I thought, "I must write about this!"

On the BBC News at Ten, 19 October, a rural village in China was featured. Due to droughts, their crops were failing and younger generations were forced to leave to find work in big cities, leaving older people behind. This is an issue faced by many communities worldwide, which HelpAge is trying to address by raising awareness of how climate change is affecting older people.

Additionally, on AlertNet, an audiovisual montage shows older people's frustration at the unpredictability of the weather. Their crops have failed and their livestock is dying. They plead with their Gods to bring them rain, asking why their usual means to ensure their survival are failing.

Older people lack the scientific knowledge to explain why climate change is affecting their lives. They want to contribute to the climate change debate, but cannot if they are continually excluded.

Here at HelpAge, it seems pretty obvious that the two major issues facing humanity this century, climate change and ageing should be closely linked. After all, in forty years time, 1 in 5 people will be over 60. This means that by 2050, the number of people who are 60 and over will outnumber children aged 14 and under.

At the moment, when it comes to climate change, older people are at best referred to as a "vulnerable group", which immediately discredits their knowledge and experience.

We believe that if given the chance, this knowledge and experience can help reduce the effects of climate change. We believe that age helps.

Read more about HelpAge's work on climate change.

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Author profile

Sarah Marzouk
Country: UK
Job title: Digital Communications

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.