It’s all about the numbers

I started keeping a spreadsheet of my carbon footprint earlier this year, but it was inconsistent and spotty; it is hard to be enthusiastic about this during a pandemic when every single day was exactly the same as the one before. But I did use the time to find more data, refine the numbers, and as of 1 August have started fresh. Basically, everything that I do that has a footprint and that is variable is tracked daily.

It’s a book!


I am pleased and honoured to announce a contract with New Society Publishers, who have a “mission is to publish books for a world of change in a way that has a minimum impact on our environment.” Tentatively titled The 1.5 Degree Diaries, it will follow my path to understanding the importance of this number, and trying to live a life in tune with it.

Why the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle?

It has long been a point of contention: do individual actions make a difference, or are they pointless diversions? The question always is whether individual actions are like recycling, pointless diversions to make us feel better while the big corporations keep pumping out more CO2?

One new study, 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and options for reducing lifestyle carbon footprints, from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and Aalto University, argues that in fact, our individual actions could add up to make a big difference. In fact, they suggest that we have no choice: “Changes in consumption patterns and dominant lifestyles are a critical and integral part of the solutions package to address climate change.”

I have been trying to live this 1.5 degree lifestyle, which means limiting my CO2 emissions to 2.5 tonnes per year, or 6.85 kilograms kilograms per day. Lots more to come!

Earlier posts from another life: There’s big money in aging baby boomers

When a reporter asked famous bank robber Willie Sutton why he did it, he supposedly said “Because that’s where the money is.” Joseph Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab (and author of “The Longevity Economy” reviewed in MNN here) writes behind a paywall in Barrons about where the money is now, and how people are continuing to miss this opportunity.

Source: There’s big money in aging baby boomers | MNN – Mother Nature Network

There are 2 keys to successful aging: Exercise and friends | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Our landline rarely rings unless it’s a robot or someone in Bangalore wanting to clean my ducts or fix my Windows computer. (I have radiators and a Mac.) But this was a human voice I recognized, saying “I died the other day, but they brought me back!”

Source: There are 2 keys to successful aging: Exercise and friends | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Why do millennials drive less than boomers? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

A new survey published by Arity, a tech spinoff from Allstate, finds that baby boomers’ attitudes about driving are different than those of millennials, but that both cohorts are spending too much time in their cars. The average American spends 335 hours in the car each year driving 6,000 miles, the equivalent of a round trip from New York to Los Angeles.

Source: Why do millennials drive less than boomers? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Baby boomers will be among the hardest hit by climate change | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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.”

Source: Baby boomers will be among the hardest hit by climate change | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Boomers and e-bikes were made for each other | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Almost a year ago I wrote that we should worry about boomers on e-bikes, noting that “older, male Dutch e-bikers are dying in shocking numbers.” It turned out not to be entirely true; statistically it had nothing to do with the e-bikes. Older people fall more often, but e-bikes don’t appear to be any worse than regular bikes or even walking

Source: Boomers and e-bikes were made for each other | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Why not retire to the Holiday Inn? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Terry Robison of Spring, Texas, has his retirement figured out. The 64-year-old is going to live at the Holiday Inn. Retirement homes are expensive, but a Holiday Inn with a senior discount is only $59.23 per day. He can use the difference (roughly $128 per day, by his count) for “lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry, gratuities and special TV movies,” he wrote. “Plus, they provide a spa, swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer-dryer, etc.”

Source: Why not retire to the Holiday Inn? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Baby boomers aren’t buying senior housing | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Baby boomers aren’t ready for retirement homes- yet.

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. Source: Baby boomers aren’t buying senior housing | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Are restaurants getting too loud? Or are their customers getting too old?

As you age, your hearing changes. Should restaurants adapt or should the customers?

I worry that if every restaurant caters to the aging boomer who isn’t willing to even try to adapt to what is going on around them, then they will all turn into mausoleums playing Led Zeppelin instead of hip-hop. There has to be a place for everyone.

Source: Are restaurants getting too loud? Or are their customers getting too old? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Want an age-friendly place to live? Move to the big city

What older people want isn’t that different from every other age bracket.

People in their 70s and 80s are the fastest-growing segment of the population, and despite all of the promotion of retirement communities in the Sunbelt, a new study from Welltower shows that most older people (and 80 percent of baby boomers) who live in cities want to stay where they are. The main reason appears to be access to good health care in the long term, but after that, the most important criteria relate to relationships — “they want to gather with friends, family and grandchildren. And finally, it’s the variety of urban scenic areas and walkways, other outdoor recreation, cultural experiences, shopping and restaurants that cities have to offer.” Source: Want an age-friendly place to live? Move to the big city | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Older pedestrians are dying on our roads

‘Shared responsibility’ is code for it’s always the pedestrian’s fault — but that doesn’t work when you’re talking about aging boomers.

Driving a car is so difficult these days; it seems that whenever you get behind the wheel, someone leaps in front of you. That’s why so many safety campaigns these days are pushing the idea of “shared responsibility.”

Source: Older pedestrians are dying on our roads | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Why I said goodbye to my Miata

After 22 years, the world has changed — and so have I.

Driving is also like everything else in life; you need to practice to stay good at it. I bike everywhere in the city; My wife Kelly does all the long-distance driving now in our Subaru. I prefer to look at the surroundings and my phone, and when I do get behind the wheel, I realize that I’ve become a terrible driver, that I’m totally out of practice.

Source: Why I said goodbye to my Miata | MNN – Mother Nature Network

​Is nostalgia stealing our kids’ future? 

Sure we were eating spam and dad had Black Lung Disease but we were happy.

Where I live, in Toronto, Canada, a “right wing populist” has just been elected the premier of the second largest government in the country with an economy as big as Switzerland’s. Two of the key items in his platform are to roll back the sex education curriculum to 1998, and to bring back beer for a buck. He’s also rolling back gas prices, perhaps nostalgic for the time when you drove down Main Street drinking beer and learned about sex in the back seat.

Source: Is nostalgia stealing our kids’ future? | MNN – Mother Nature Network

The new Apple Watch 4 is a boon for boomers 

It’s a wellness device that could well replace your phone.

I never wanted an Apple Watch in the first place.

I hadn’t worn a watch in years, when Dave from Starkey showed me how it could operate my new hearables. So I bought it, the original model, and it grew on me. I liked running with it, tracking my movements and closing the rings, but mostly it was a glorified remote control for my phone. When Apple announced that the latest upgrade of the software wouldn’t work for the original watch, I decided to upgrade. I was intrigued by some of the new features they had added in both hardware and software that applied to aging boomers like me.

Source: The new Apple Watch 4 is a boon for boomers | MNN – Mother Nature Network

We’re drowning in stuff, and this study proves it’s making us miserable

The first rule of stuff: It’s like a gas because it expands to fill the space available.

The internet has been abuzz with an illustration of dots that shows everyone crowded into the kitchen. As I pointed out recently, the drawing is used regularly to demonstrate that a) everyone wants to live in the kitchen and b) that our houses are too big and full of wasted space. Almost no one apparently reads the book the illustration is from — “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” — which, in fact, delivers a different message.

The most shocking message is that the average American family is overwhelmed with stuff. The authors actually went into the homes of real families and documented this, describing their subjects as people who “work hard and shop hard.” The researchers spent several thousand hours photographing and cataloguing everything in the 32 houses they studied, as well as interviewing the owners of all this stuff.

Source: We’re drowning in stuff, and this study proves it’s making us miserable | MNN – Mother Nature Network

This plan proves the open kitchen should die

Tell me again why anyone being stuck in the kitchen all day is a good thing?

You’ve probably seen this image before; it has been doing the rounds on the internet, usually presented as proof that big, open kitchens are wonderful and dining rooms are vestigial and useless. But in fact it is from a study that shows exactly the opposite. “Parents’ comments on these spaces reflect a tension between culturally situated notions of the tidy home and the demands of daily life. The photographs reflect sinks at various points of the typical weekday, but for most families, the tasks of washing, drying, and putting away dishes are never done. … Empty sinks are rare, as are spotless and immaculately organized kitchens. All of this, of course, is a source of anxiety. Images of the tidy home are intricately linked to notions of middle-class success as well as family happiness, and unwashed dishes in and around the sink are not congruent with these images.”

Source: This plan proves the open kitchen should die | MNN – Mother Nature Network

How older Americans got stuck in the suburbs 

If you’re stuck in the suburbs without a car, consider yourself collateral damage from the Cold War.

“It is wrong to believe that postwar American suburbanization prevailed because the public chose it and will continue to prevail until the public changes its preferences. … Suburbanization prevailed because of the decisions of large operators and powerful economic institutions supported by federal government programmes, and ordinary consumers had little real choice in the basic pattern that resulted.”

Source: How older Americans got stuck in the suburbs | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Why aging boomers need walkable cities more than convenient parking

The Guardian has been running a fascinating series called Walking the City, and North American cities don’t come off looking very good. In Denver, people ask “What’s wrong with the sidewalks? Why is it so hard to walk here?” In San Francisco, an artist installs much-needed benches and they “attract homeless people, and criticism.” I was interviewed by The Guardian about Vision Zero initiatives, which involve slowing down cars and redesigning streets. I complained that nobody is willing to make street safer for walking:

Source: Why aging boomers need walkable cities more than convenient parking | MNN – Mother Nature Network