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Climate & Aging Webinar

Older people are the most vulnerable to some climate change effects, and are also an enormous resource for climate change action. This hour long session will explore both the role of adaptive strategies to protect vulnerable older individuals, as well as opportunities for productive engagement of older people in civic engagement and volunteerism around climate change.

TITLE: Older People and Climate Change: An Urgent Issue for Research, Policy, and Practice

PRESENTER: Karl Pillemer (Cornell University)

Karl will provide information regarding both the heightened vulnerability of older people to climate change effects, as well as the role of older individuals in preventing and adapting to climate change.

TITLE: Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation
PRESENTER: Danielle Arigoni

Danielle will discuss why climate resilience planners and community-led efforts should center their work in the needs of older adults, given the disproportionate impact they bear in the face of climate change.

TITLE: Mobilizing Older Adults for Climate Change Action

PRESENTER: Leslie Wharton

Leslie will discuss how older people are engaging in climate change activism and the impacts they are having through organizations like Elders Climate Action.


Karl Pillemer is the Hazel E. Reed Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. A sociologist and gerontologist, his work has focused on the social integration of older people, including promoting meaningful roles and activities after retirement. He created the program Retirees in Service to the Environment, which creates a pathway for older people to engage in climate change and environmental volunteerism and civic engagement. He recently created the Aging and Climate Change Clearinghouse, which serves as a  knowledge hub for older people, organizations, and researchers on the intersection of climate change and the older population (

Danielle Arigoni is an urban planner and community resilience expert.  She currently serves as Managing Director for Policy and Solutions at National Housing Trust, where she provides strategic direction for the organization’s sustainability and resilience policy efforts, and oversight and guidance for NHT’s state and local advisory services. She is also author of Climate Resilience for an Aging Nation which explores the impacts of climate change on a rapidly growing demographic – people over 65 – and the need for community-scale solutions to reduce risk for all. Prior to joining NHT in 2022, Danielle served as Director of Livable Communities at AARP and held several leadership positions at HUD, EPA and USAID working to advance sustainable and equitable communities.  She holds planning degrees from Cornell University and University of Oregon, and serves as a Board Member for the League of American Bicyclists and Smart Growth America.

Leslie Wharton is Chair of the Elders Climate Action (ECA), which is a grassroots organization in the United States whose mission is to mobilize elders to address climate change. She herself first learned about climate change when she was 56 years old. A few years later, shocked by the lack of progress in the U.S. and elsewhere, she searched for ways that she could get involved. She first became involved with ECA in 2015 when she participated in its Grandparents Climate Action Day in Washington, DC. After that experience, she became a member of ECA, started serving on its national committees, started a local chapter, and then she became Chair. Leslie Wharton received a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She spent 25 years as a litigator in private practice and then 12 years in the General Counsel’s office of a federal agency before retiring in 2021.


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The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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