A new analysis has revealed that people born later will experience more severe weather events.
Today’s babies will be more affected by climate change than their grandparents or parents. A recent study in ScienceWim Thiery from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) and his colleagues combined climate model projections for three different global warming scenarios with demography data in order to calculate the lifetime exposure at six extreme weather types for each generation born between 1960 to 2020. Even as a climate scientist acutely aware of the dangers of rising temperatures, “seeing the numbers as a person, as a parent, is a punch in the stomach,” he says. The highest increases in exposure will be seen in young people in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and those living in low-income countries. These estimates examine only changes in the frequency of extreme events—they do not represent how those events may become more intense and longer-lived. Although “young generations have the most to lose if global warming reaches higher levels,” Thiery says, they also have the most to gain if greenhouse gas emissions can be reined in. “That is a key message of hope.”
This article was originally published under the title “Generational Climate Change” by Scientific American 326, 2,76 (February 2022).
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Andrea ThompsonAssociate Editor at Scientific American, covers sustainability. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaTWeather. Credit: Nick Higgins
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