Down Syndrome + Climate Change

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time; one that will affect our daily lives more with each passing year – both through climate impacts, as well as through the societal changes that will come as the world charts a new path forward via the green energy transition.

Research has shown that marginalized groups, including those with Down syndrome, are more vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. “Disabled people are at the frontlines of the climate crisis and often have unique barriers to responding when emergency climate events happen.” (Source: BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and The Worker Solidarity Network)

Climate change makes living more dangerous and more expensive for everyone. But climate change hurts disabled people more than non-disabled people. Disabled people get put in more danger when natural disasters happen. Things like hurricanes, floods, and electric outages make the systems that help us live our lives stop working. Non-disabled people usually don’t think about what happens to disabled people when these systems stop working.

Disability and Climate Change: A Plain Language Guide

As the world works towards solutions, the disability community must actively ensure that the needs of our loved ones are front and centre, lest they be overlooked. Climate mitigation and adaptation approaches developed without consultation with the disability community inevitably create additional barriers. It is therefore incumbent upon us to consider how climate change impacts people with Down syndrome and ensure their voices are heard on this crucial issue.

We must recognize and honour the unique wisdom that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities have to offer in these changing times. Disabled people are accustomed to creatively navigating a world that is not built with their needs in mind – a skill that will become increasingly useful as we move forward.

Below are some recommended resources on climate change and how it relates to those with Down syndrome and other intellectual and physical disabilities.

DSRF Resources

Advocating at the Intersection of Disability + Climate Change

Staying Safe During a Heatwave: Tips for People with Down Syndrome and Their Caregivers

Stay Cool: Tips for Facing a Heatwave (PSA video produced by adults with Down syndrome)

Other Resources

“A Dad’s Fight for Climate and his Child with Down Syndrome” (CBC Radio program What on Earth)

Climate Change: A Plain Language Guide

Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project 

Sensing Climate

Enabling Commons Podcast

Cripping Climate Adaptation: Disability Justice and Climate Change

The Climate Book

Disabled Ecologies: Lessons from a Wounded Desert