It hits the shelves from New Society Publishers on September 14th; the story of my year trying to emit less than 2.5 tonnes of CO2e, and why everyone should be doing this. I have started a separate, special website for the book here.
I will be using this site to display all the archived posts I wrote about aging baby boomers that were deleted when the Mother Nature Network closed, which may be the basis of my next book. It is certainly a subject I have experience with!
The real question is going to be “how do I get out of this place?” From MNN
The oldest baby boomers have just turned 70, and most can drive to their birthday parties. They’re being followed by 70 million other boomers, all happily motoring along. Their parents? Not so good these days. Janet Morrissey of The New York Times looks at the issue of transportation for senior citizens and sees a problem: lack of transportation.
Connected hearing aids make everything better, not just your hearing. From MNN, February, 2017
A few months back I wrote about the latest hearables I was wearing — that’s the trendy name for hearing aids that I prefer because they’re so much more than hearing aids. Lots of people are playing with hearables these days, particularly since the iPhone 7 came out and with it, the AirPods. I’m wearing Starkey Halo 2 hearables that connect via bluetooth to my new iPhone 7+ phone.
I don’t care what the government says; I’m just getting started. From MNN, November 12, 2017, my 65th birthday
I was in Sienna, Italy, five years ago on Nov. 12 when I celebrated my 60th birthday. Even though I was on vacation, I had to join an “all hands” conference call to learn that the website I worked for, TreeHugger.com, was now part of the Mother Nature Network. This was a shock, but it turned out to be a great birthday present. I’ve been contributing to MNN.com ever since, primarily as a way of scratching my itch to write about how technology is changing the way we live, and how the baby boomer generation is adapting to it. So it’s a very happy fifth anniversary.
They’re heading to hot spots like Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. From MNN, March 2018
When I started watching the baby boomer scene, I predicted that the hot spots for retirees would be university towns, where you can find a good espresso, a second-run movie house and probably a good book store. But much has changed in the last few years; you can get a good coffee almost everywhere, the second-run movie houses have closed and book stores? Good luck with that. University towns are often expensive, too.
“Four years ago I did the same research and then the conclusion was that people riding electric bikes were at greater risk than those who had to pedal. We thought the weight of the bikes led to more accidents. But we have new figures now and they tell us that this isn’t the case if you compare the number of accidents and factor in age, frequency and distance.”
But these Islabike ‘Icons’ may be all you need to keep riding longer. From MNN, January 2019.
A lot of older bike riders have been considering e-bikes these days; even fit aging boomers decline in strength and flexibility. But what if what they really need is just a better bike, designed around their changing bodies and needs? That’s what Isla Rowntree of Islabikes has done. She tells Peter Walker of The Guardian that her new bikes are designed for “people who want to ride under their own steam for as long as possible, and then might switch to an e-bike when they need to.”
The Duet Bike converts a wheelchair into a great way to get some air and stimulation. From MNN, April 2015.
Riding a bike is fun and exhilarating. Many seniors in good health can do it well into old age, but some of us, through advanced age or injury, can’t do it anymore and miss that joy. In Germany, many people use “Rollfiets,” special wheelchairs that connect to 14-speed bike frames. It’s a clever design: the wheelchair can be used conventionally or tilted back so that the front wheels are off the ground, with the larger wheels becoming part of the tricycle.
German idea could be a great alternative to retirement communities. From MNN January 2017
Here’s an example of baugruppen in Berlin. (Photo: Andrew Alberts via Archdaily)
What’s the best model for housing the boomer generation? This is a group that’s mostly healthy, and many are pretty well off. We recently showed a house designed for boomers, and complained that it was not particularly good for aging gracefully. In fact, the point could be made that no single family house is going to be terrific in the long-term.
(And no, they won’t all be dead before its effects hit us all hard.) From MNN, February 2019
The 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg complains about older generations: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” Bruce Gibney, in “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America,” wrote “Unlike acid rain, which had immediate impacts on Boomers’ quality of life and was therefore swiftly addressed, climate change is a problem whose consequences will fall most heavily on other generations, so far too little has been done.”
Baby boomers aren’t ready for retirement homes — yet. From MNN, November 2018.
Almost 20 years ago, Canadian demographer David Foot wrote “Boom, Bust and Echo,” in which he claimed that “demographics explains two-thirds of everything — whether the subject is business planning, marketing, human resources, career planning, corporate organization, the stock market, housing, education, health, recreation, leisure, and social and global trends.” One of the lessons in that book was to follow the baby boomers, the oldest of whom are now 72 and the youngest 58.
As Maine goes, so goes the the rest of the country. From MNN, August 2019
Maine has the oldest population in the USA, with a median age of 44.6 years, significantly older than the 38.1 median age for the country. According to Jeff Stein in The Washington Post, the state is being “hammered by two slow-moving demographic forces — the growth of the retirement population and a simultaneous decline in young workers.”
A visit to a local restaurant causes me rethink how they are designed. From MNN, April 2018.
My wife and I went out for dinner at Cano, a local Italian joint, the other night; when we got there, we were the only people in the place. We were seated at a table right under the speaker and it was loud. I asked the server if she could turn it down and she did (In jest, suggesting that if it was Friday night she wouldn’t have), but even though we were the only people in the restaurant, every sound bounced around — off the tile floors, the hard surfaces. I found it quite unpleasant.
The funny thing was, the restaurant had exposed ducts and conduits, industrial RAB lighting fixtures, and looked very much like the restaurants I designed when I was an architect in the high-tech years of the early ’80s. Visually, I felt right at home but aurally, I was in a different world.
And they can provide some space for the next generation as well. From MNN February 2016.
Of the 78 million baby boomers in the United States, most appear to want to retire in a nice big, single floor house on a cul-de-sac. Having seen too many of my parent’s generation do that and be totally miserable, I’ve tried to make the case that boomers should be doing the opposite, and should be looking to live in walkable communities where they won’t be trapped when they’re forced to hang up the car keys.
A recent survey of architects about housing trends makes me wonder what they’re thinking. From MNN, October 2017
When Mr. Blandings wanted to build his dream house, he went to an architect, because architects are supposed to know how to design houses that meet their clients’ needs. But that movie came out in 1948 and it seems that things have changed since then.
Every quarter, the American Institute of Architects checks in with over 500 architects doing residential work to find out what the current trends are in housing. It is a snapshot of what people are buying and what architects are delivering, and it has very little to do with needs and a lot to do with wants.
There are alternatives to driving that can work just about anywhere. From MNN, January 2018.
Alex Steffen once wrote in the late lamented Worldchanging discussion forum:
There is a direct relationship between the kinds of places we live, the transportation choices we have, and how much we drive. The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.
One of the problems we face as aging baby boomers is that most of us live in the kinds of places where we don’t have many transportation alternatives to driving. And while many people can drive safely well into old age, others cannot. Reaction times slow significantly. According to one study, “… it takes a 60-year-old driver 9 seconds to recover from undergoing a road glare, whereas this only takes 2 seconds for someone who is 30. Reaction times are also 22 times slower for someone who is 65, compared to a 30-year-old.”
It’s also a great excuse to keep moving, but we need safe lanes for it. From MNN, October 2019.
After Australian Madison Lyden was killed while riding her bike on Central Park West in New York City, a protected bike lane was finally approved. Then the owners of the multimillion dollar condos and co-ops sued to stop the project, citing as a main reason that “disabled and elderly residents who wish to enter Central Park will be in harm’s way by having to cross the bike lanes due to bicycle riders who often neglect to abide by the normal traffic rules.”
Every time a bike lane is proposed, one of the main arguments used to fight it is the concern that disabled and elderly people won’t be able to park. But in fact, for many older and disabled people, bikes could be mobility aids.
The culture we live in today, which evolved around lives half as long, does a pretty good job of supporting people up to 50, and then it stops. As we learn about aging, we’re finding that the malleability, the elasticity, the potential for people to age well is greater than ever previously imagined.
Most people have thermostat wars. In our house we have lighting wars, especially since we converted all our bulbs to LEDs and our main fixtures to Hue RGB LEDs, which we can control on our phones. I am always turning up the light to the absolutely highest level and sitting right under the fixture; my wife keeps changing it to a more pleasing color temperature and lower intensity. When I chose lights for everywhere else in the house that required fixed bulbs, I picked far brighter ones than she would. (We could do surgery in the bathroom, is a common complaint.)
I write about this in my book, about how a study that claimed that eating local food really didn’t matter ignores the cold chain, the vast network that keeps our food fresh and requires a huge amount of energy.