The fact that climate change effects will mainly be shouldered by the young generation is well established. Now a study published this week in academic journal Science is finally putting some numbers to the sad truth that has been causing disillusion and rage in millions of young people around the world.
According to the paper by Wim Thiery of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels et al., people born in 1960 will experience on average four heatwaves during their lifetimes. For those born in 2020 and in case that nations carry out decarbonization as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, that number is expected to reach an average of 30 – or 7.5 times as many as for their grandparents’ generation.
In limiting global warming to 1.5 °C instead of the Paris Agreement’s projected 2.7 °C, the number of heatwaves experienced on average by the new generation would reach 18, the report said.
The effects of climate change are not spread equally around the globe. The researcher estimate the increase in climate disasters faced by the young generation in the global South, like Sub-Saharan Africa, to be disproportionately larger.
As for other disaster types, the paper concludes that those born last year will see 3.6 times as many droughts, three times as many crop failures, 2.8 times as many river floods and twice the number of wildfires. Under a conservative estimate, the average amount of climate-related disaster experienced in a lifetime will on average triple for those born in 2020 compared to those born in 1960.