The following Letter re the global warming threat to older people has been sent to Australian branches of the University of the Third Age (U3A), an international movement that encourages and enables retired or semi-retired people to participate in lifelong learning for pleasure  (see: http://www3.griffith.edu.au/03/u3a/ ) .

Dear Sir/Madam, 

Re Global warming threat to older people

I am writing to inform you of the serious threat to older people from global warming and what older people can and indeed must do about it.

A 5 decade research career scientist, in recent years I have been both a tutor for the Yarra Valley U3A, Melbourne, and a part-time science lecturer at La Trobe University, Melbourne (in 2009 joyfully doing a full–time science academic’s undergraduate teaching load for 10% of the money in 10% of the time and thereby showing that our kids pay 10 times too much for their university tuition).

I am currently half way through delivering a U3A course entitled “Global warming, climate emergency” (the very detailed course notes are on the Web so that anyone in the world can “do” the course or pay a modest sum and attend the remaining  lectures in person:  http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/global-warming--global-emergency-course ).

Older people are mostly unaware of the seriousness of the climate emergency. Indeed Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty has stated bluntly that "we are in real danger" and top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen has stated "We face a climate emergency" (see “Climate change facts and required actions, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-emergency-facts-and-required-actions ).

Older people are peculiarly threatened by the worsening climate emergency in three key areas that can be summarized by the 3 Ds of (1) Devaluation - only renewable energy - or geothermal energy-based GDP growth is sustainable and hence realistically available to prevent devaluation of superannuation and pensions; (2) Death - from greater susceptibility to heat stress of older people; and (3) Descendants - they may well hate us for what we have done to the planet.

For detailed, up-to-date and documented reviews  about Older People and Climate Change see the following articles: Dr Gideon Polya, “3 reasons why older people should care about climate change action”, Open Forum, 2009: http://www.openforum.com.au/content/3-reasons-why-older-people-should-care-about-climate-change-action and “Global warming dangers and solutions for older people”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2009: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/global-warming-dangers--solutions-for-older-people .

Older People and Climate Change (OPACC) provides carefully researched and documented analyses to inform people about the threat to Humanity (and to older people in particular) from man-made global warming and what we must do about it (see: http://sites.google.com/site/olderpeopleandclimatechange/ ).

Unfortunately, Western governments are irresponsibly ineffective in responding to the climate emergency. Thus, in Australia the major parties (the Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition and the ruling Labor Party, aka the Lib-Labs) are both  irresponsibly pro-coal and both offer  (a) flawed, ineffective and dangerous carbon trading Emissions Trading Schemes (ETSs); (b) derisory 20-30% renewable energy by 2020; (c) a derisory “5-10% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020”; and (d) increased GHG pollution by Australia, a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution  -   whereas  top climate change experts demand  (a) an honest, effective, revenue-neutral Carbon Tax approach as advocated by top climate economists; (b) “100% renewable energy by 2020”; (c) “cut carbon pollution 80% by 2020”; and (d) urgent reduction of atmosphere CO2 from the current 390 ppm (corresponding to 450 ppm CO2-equiv) to 300 ppm (see: “Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020”: http://sites.google.com/site/cutcarbonemissions80by2020/ ;  “300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm”: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm ; “100% renewable energy by 2020”: http://sites.google.com/site/100renewableenergyby2020/ ; and “Experts: Carbon Tax needed and NOT cap-and-trade Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS): http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/carbon-tax-needed-not-cap-and-trade-emission-trading-scheme-ets ).

Who are the bad guys? As of 2008,  “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) was 0.9 (Bangladesh),  2.2 (India), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included. It is estimated from projections by top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS that 10 billion people may perish this century from unaddressed climate change – this including 6 billion infants, 3 billion Muslims, 2 billion Indians and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis (see Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita ; and “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere “: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australia-s-5-off-2000-ghg-pollution-by-2020-endangers-australia-humanity-and-biosphere ; and ).

Older People and Climate Change (OPACC) concludes its Home Page Introduction (see: http://sites.google.com/site/olderpeopleandclimatechange/ )  with the following plea: “Please (a) inform everyone you can and (b) take personal and collective action -  of which the key action is to withhold avoidable support from politicians, products, people,  corporations, communities and countries contributing to the worsening climate emergency and sustainability emergency”.

I am very happy to address any U3A group within the Melbourne area pro bono publico (for the good of the public) about the acutely serious threats to older people, Humanity and the biosphere from man-made climate change.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Gideon Polya

Macleod, Victoria, 3085, Australia

Credentials: Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). He has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/Gideon-Polya and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contribution “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/
), the revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) and the recent BBC broadcast “Bengal Famine” involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see “Truth , Beauty & Saving the World – Science, Art & Nuclear, Greenhouse & Poverty Threats”:

http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/truth-beauty-saving-the-world .