Study: Young Generations Will Experience More Heatwaves in Their Lifetimes

In a study published in the journal Science, researchers found that people born in 2020 will experience an average of 30 extreme heatwaves in their lifetimes, which is 7x more than someone born in 1960 — even if countries fulfill their promises to cut future carbon emissions. Compared to today’s 60-year-olds, today’s babies will go through twice as many droughts and wildfires and 3x as many floods and crop failures. And these are likely underestimates.

These natural disasters will hit the children of the global South the hardest. Under current emissions pledges, children born between 2016 and 2020 in Europe and Central Asia will go through 4x more extreme events, while those born in sub-Saharan Africa will go through 5.7x more.

As the world goes into the COP26 climate summit in November, youth around the world are protesting for more drastic climate action. The research found that only those currently under the age of 40 will see the effects of emissions reductions made now, while those older people will be dead before they experience the full extent of the changing climate. Their choices matter to younger generations — keeping the world below 1.5°C will cut future heat waves in half, and keeping the world below 2°C will cut the number of heatwaves by a quarter.