Unless you’re one of us who expects to live forever, if you’re now 50, chances are you’ll be long gone by 2050. But not if you’re now 15. By 2050, the target by which the United Sates government aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, a 15-year-old will be 44 —and suffering through relentless summer temperatures over 100 degrees, food shortages, droughts and wildfires.
That’s the probable reality that today’s youth contemplates as it demands action from governments and corporations to head off the worst consequences of certain climate change.
“It’s different for young people,” a sixteen-year-old said in a report this fall on psychological trauma due to impending climate disruptions. “For us the destruction of the planet is personal.”
The survey of 10,000 people aged 16 to 25 was conducted in 10 countries as a collaboration of five universities. Among findings: nearly 60 percent of young people responded that they felt very worried or extremely worried about climate change, and 75 percent said the future is frightening.
For years now, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg has been the face and the voice of youth protest against government inaction to confront climate change. She and her global Fridays for Future are expected to be a center of attention during the United Nations climate conference in Scotland this month.
“Young people all over the world are well aware that the people in power are failing us,” the teenager said.
Last month, 133 people were arrested during a five-day protest in Washington DC organized by People vs. Fossil Fuels. An 11-year-old pointed out “We shouldn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t have to go up and tell them what they’re doing right now is wrong.”
Corrales Comment reporter Scott Manning will cover the youth contingent at the upcoming COP-26 in which nearly every national government in the world is expected to make commitments to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.
A public opinion survey in developed countries by the University of Oxford and the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) late last month revealed that 70 percent of respondents under age 18 believe the planet is in the grips of a climate emergency.
“Given that emergency, young people are sending a message to global leaders that is loud and clear: they want climate action now,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steinger said October 25.
“The world is watching, hoping that countries will come together at COP-26 in Glasgow to make bold, historic decisions that will literally change the future.”
He noted that the Group of 20 [most developed nations’ economic development organization] account for 80 percent of the global economy and 75 percent of global emissions. Without bold action by this group, he reminded, it will be impossible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels as called for in the 2015 Paris Accord.
The survey distributed across mobile gaming networks drew 1.2 million respondents including 550,000 in the 14-18 age category.