Climate Change

Study: Young People Are Screwed

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

It's not as if older people are not also worried about the consequences of global climate change and what it will mean for future generations of their own families, but younger people will still be here to see some of the worst effects in the coming decades.

A team of 30 researchers from across Europe have published a study in the journal Science detailing what people under the age of 40 are going to experience in the coming years. They also detail the dramatic effects that kids being born today are going to experience.

And not surprisingly, not all children of this earth will share the burden equally.

The study, published in the journal Science, found that children born in 2021 will on average live on an Earth with seven times more heatwaves, twice as many wildfires, and almost three times as many droughts, river floods and crop failures as people born 60 years ago.

"This basically means that people younger than 40 today will live an unprecedented life even under the most stringent climate change mitigation scenarios," lead author Wim Thiery said in a statement.

These extreme climate events will also disproportionately affect children in developing countries, said researchers who computed lifetime exposures to climate events for every generation born between 1960 and 2020 in every country across the globe.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 172 million children face a sixfold increase in extreme events over their lifetimes and 50 times more heatwaves. This compares to 53 million children of the same age born in Europe and Central Asia, who will face about four times more extreme events as their grandparents, according to the statement.

This study was based on current global climate policies; meaning it was partially based on changes that are already baked into the climate and what could happen if we don't take more drastic actions very soon.

I have little hope that the world will collectively take enough action in the time we have left to avoid some if not most worst case scenarios. And Like many other younger people, I've spent a lot of time considering what our future is going to look like.

A separate study of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 found that 60 percent of them have suffered from mental health consequences because of climate change.

Of those surveyed, nearly 60% reported that they felt either "very" or "extremely" worried about climate change, and more than half said climate change made them feel "afraid, sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and/or guilty."

Positive feelings such as optimism were reported least among the respondents, researchers said. In fact, 77% said that they considered the future to be frightening, and 56% agreed with the viewpoint that humanity is doomed, according to the study.

For many young people, those feelings of fear and worry affect their ability to function, too, results showed. More than 45% of the respondents said the way they feel about climate change adversely affects their day-to-day lives.

I personally used to worry about this on a day-to-day basis far more than I do now. And it's not as if the threat is any less prevalent, but at some point I decided to stop worrying about things I can't control and just live my own life to the fullest while I can. That applies to far more than just concerns about global climate change.

With that said, it's entirely understandable why most young people spend a great deal of time worrying about it. Other countries also haven't been as aggressive in tackling climate change as they should be, but here in America a significant portion of the Republican party and their conservative voters still don't believe in climate change.

There are some who do believe in climate and actually welcome it for business or rapture reasons. There are some who correctly believe their wealthy families will have the resources to shelter themselves in private arctic compounds. And there are certainly some members of Congress who just don't give a damn because they won't be around to see it.