Can a family protect its kids
if the nation doesn’t choose to?
This study tells us a 21-year-old in the class of 2015 earning a median income will lose $126,000 in lifetime income, and $187,000 in wealth. That’s if we take no action on climate change. These losses caused by climate change will be substantially greater than the damages from other economic challenges (on which America has also been taking no action) such as student debt costs, child-care costs, and earnings lost to extreme inequality.
The study authors, NextGen Climate and Demos, call this “a massive betrayal of young people by our political leaders.” But, as I discuss in Chapter 12 of Climate-Proof, if America as a whole is spending on themselves instead of investing to protect their kids, that doesn’t mean that your family can’t do the opposite.
There are steps we can take to help Millennials protect against climate change. We can help them choose relatively climate-proof careers, and the fields of study that lead down those career paths. Some families can reduce their current spending to make sure their children will have a long-term financial cushion to defend against the cost squeezes and income disruptions predicted. And perhaps most effectively, we can guide them to choose where to live, understanding which are relatively climate-proof hometowns and which are doomed.
We can urge our millennials to join organizations like SustainUS, NextGen America and the Climate Reality Project, all focused on the interests of their generation in the face of climate change. But probably more effective is for them to become activists on social media. More political activities that can help protect against the long-term costs of climate change seem to be organized online, outside of formal groups.
[This post was originally published August 27, 2016 and has been updated.]