Baby boomers will be among the hardest hit by climate change

(And no, they won’t all be dead before its effects hit us all hard.) From MNN, February 2019

Greta Thunberg and young activists. Where are the old ones? (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg complains about older generations: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” Bruce Gibney, in “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America,” wrote “Unlike acid rain, which had immediate impacts on Boomers’ quality of life and was therefore swiftly addressed, climate change is a problem whose consequences will fall most heavily on other generations, so far too little has been done.”

And you know what? They’re all wrong in thinking that the baby boomers will all be dead before it hits the fan. But as David Foot noted, “demographics explain about two thirds of everything” and when you look at the demographics, it’s clear the baby boomer generation is going to be hit very hard indeed — and they’ll be hit when they’re least able to cope. These graphics the point loud and clear:

Temperatures are rising faster than you think, and climate change is happening now.

Going up: Temperatures are rising right now. (Photo: NOAA via Wikipedia)

As Matt Hickman has noted, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that we have to cut emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic effects. But all this talk about 2030 makes it sound like nothing is happening now. In fact, Matt quotes a climatologist: “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.” Climate change is happening now, and the effects are just going to get worse every year. All the graphics point to how disastrous things will be in 2100, when all the baby boomers will be well and truly dead. But it will still plenty be hot in 2050.

There are a lot of baby boomers —and they’re younger than you think

The youngest baby boomers were born in 1964. (Photo: US Census/Pew)

The baby boomers are no longer the largest generational cohort; there are now more millennials. But they still encompass a huge number, and the youngest of them are just 55 years old. They’re going to be around for a while.

There will still be a lot of baby boomers in 2050

Aging boomers are not going away so quickly. (Photo: Congressional Budget Office)

The vast majority of baby boomers will still be around in 2030 and a lot of them (perhaps 21 million) will still be kicking in 2050.

So what’s life like for an aging boomer between 2030 and 2050?

This is a projection for 2100, but things are happening fast. (Photo: Carbonbrief)

Who knows? Most projections are still out to 2100. But the latest evidence is that climate change is happening even faster than predicted. A recent report in Nature suggests things are going to get worse fast, which means we have to act fast.

Governments need to invest even more urgently in schemes that protect homes from floods and fires and help people to manage heat stress (especially older individuals and those living in poverty). Nations need to make their forests and farms more resilient to droughts, and prepare coasts for inundation.

In every disaster, the older population suffers most. They’re not as mobile, they are affected by the heat and cold the most, they are susceptible to disease. The Young Foundation did a report called Heatwave, looking at the unprecedented European heat wave of 2003, and the vast majority of the 15,000 people who died in France were over 75 years old, which is similar to the stats from the heat wave in Chicago in 1995.

21 million 85-year-old boomers will be alive in 2050 (Photo: US Census)

In 2050, roughly one in three baby boomers will still be alive — 21 million old people who will need help, whose retirement properties in Arizona will be too hot to bear, whose houses in the Carolinas or Florida will be flooded out, and whose houses in the forests will have likely burned. If their pensions had been invested in oil and gas, they will likely be living in poverty.

Young people are far more resilient and adaptable than the old, and they can follow the jobs and the water and move to Buffalo or Detroit. Old people are often stuck.

Some can pretend all they like that climate change is a hoax like this particularly famous boomer does, but most people are past that stage.

Because really, any baby boomer who doesn’t think climate change is going to affect them personally is just kidding themselves.

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