Climate change and global warming are concepts with their fair share of political controversy, but there is no denying the fact that over the past several decades, the average temperature of the earth has been steadily increasing. The year 2018 was the fourth warmest on record and the past four years – 2015 to 2018 – were the top four warmest years in the global temperature record. Accompanying the rise in average global temperatures is a rise in the frequency, duration, and severity of heat waves.
Extreme heat is deadly, especially to older adults. Elderly citizens are the most vulnerable population during these so called “heat waves”, experiencing significantly worse health outcomes than any other age group. Individuals older than 65 years old comprise most of the extra emergency room visits and deaths during heat waves. The world is getting hotter, and Americans are getting older, compounding the problem and threatening more American lives every year.
Rising Temperatures and an Aging Population: An Impending Tragedy
Aras Aziz, Claude Pepper Center
Summer Heat Waves Further Threaten Those Most at Risk From Covid
Source: Bloomberg Law
Covid-19 has shown few signs of abating with the warmer weather, and has in fact spiked in a number of states. Now, many health and city planners predict the crisis could get much worse as the U.S. faces what is expected to be one of the hottest summers on record. The poor, the elderly, and people of color could face the toughest times yet as they are disproportionately being impacted by the coronavirus, and the economic recession will make it harder for many from these communities to afford basic utilities.
‘Like a sunburn on your lungs’: how does the climate crisis impact health?
Source: The Guardian
The climate crisis is making people sicker – worsening illnesses ranging from seasonal allergies to heart and lung disease. Children, pregnant people and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and rising heat. But the impact of the climate crisis – for patients, doctors and researchers – is already being felt across every specialty of medicine, with worse feared to come.
Climate change and older adults: Lessons from Canada
Source: McKnight’s Long Term Care News
On the other side of the border, Canada, too, has had its fair share of disasters due to changing climate. An elderly man from Ottawa spent most of the winter of 2018-19 – a particularly harsh one — snowed in, unable to leave his home, and surviving on canned food. During the summer of 2018 in Quebec, an abnormally hot summer led to the deaths of 54 people, many of them older adults. And in 2013 in Calgary, seniors’ communities had to be quickly evacuated during 100-year floods. The residents sat and slept on crowded chairs and cots for three days.
- Puerto Rico wasn’t ready for earthquakes
Grist Magazine – January 2020
- Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms
Scientific American – December 2017
- Climate Change and the Health of Older Adults
United States Environmental Protection Agency – May 2016