We have all likely heard the saying, “well, back in my day…” followed by a comparison about how things were harder back then. However, that same sentiment cannot be applied across generations of climate change. Even if current global climate policy pledges are met, people born in 2020 would experience between two-times and seven-times more extreme events over their lifetimes than people born in 1960.
New research continues to paint a grim scene about carbon pollution and our future. Generations to come will likely experience more than eight degrees of warming during their lifetime in Burlington if this pace of pollution continues. By comparison, older generations would experience between one and three degrees of warming during their lifetime. In other words, with continued very high emissions, Millennials and Gen Z would experience up to two times more warming over their lifetime than Baby Boomers.
However, a scenario where there are rapid emissions cuts would mean that our younger generations would experience the same amount of warming over their lifetime as Baby Boomers. Unfortunately for Gen X’ers, you are squarely in middle age; because emissions take so long to reduce, even with aggressive cuts, you will likely be the generation that will have experienced the most total warming over a given lifetime.
All this analysis shows what’s at stake for our younger generations if carbon pollution continues and we fail to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. More importantly, this research shows the powerful effect of the choices we make now. If we commit to rapid and sustained cuts in carbon, it could result in a far safer future with less warming and fewer risky extreme events for our younger generations.