The average six-year-old child living today will experience roughly three times as many climate disasters compared to their grandparents, according to a first of its kind study by research conducted by Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
The findings, published in the journal Science, were the results of analyzing the “intergenerational inequality” of climate change across different age cohorts.
They will face twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 3.5 times more crop failures, and 2.3 times as many droughts compared to some one born in 1960.
The global team, led by research professor Wim Thiery, developed their research from multiple climate and demographic models, specifically comparing risks faced by previous generations to the number of extreme climate events children today will face.
The results also documented the staggering regional and demographic differences that the climate crisis will have on future generations.
Fifty-three million children born in Europe and Central Asia since 2016 will face four times more extreme climate disasters, while 172 million children born in the same age bracket in sub-Saharan Africa will face a near sixfold increase in extreme climate events.
The report does indicate that if the earth can manage to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, risks for extreme heat exposure could fall by almost half. There could also be a decline in crop failures, droughts, and river flooding.
The study’s implications extend beyond just young children – people under the age of 40, according to Thiery, will face more unprecedented climate disasters, many that would have had a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening in preindustrial times.
Young people across the world are already facing unprecedented climate anxiety, according to the UK’s University of Bath that found 75 percent of people between the ages of 16 to 25 are “frightened” about the future, because of the ongoing threat of climate change.
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