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Climate Change: Young vs Old. Gregory Savioz-Buck, ESG/Impact Investing Intern

It's easy to see that right now, whether it's in politics or in the environment, there is a gap between the visions of the youth and older people. This is not a new phenomenon: these groups have always had different ideas and seen the world differently. However, with all that is going on in our time (climate change and political polarization), these two sets of vision generale some problems. Take climate change for example. There is a clear disconnection between what young people and old people think.

Let me explain: young people tend to see the consequences of climate change. This is normal, since they are the ones who will live with these consequences. On the other hand, older people see global warming as less of a problem and tend to be more concerned with a problem closer to them, the economy. They overestimate the importance of the economy to the point of making it a more important than the environment and climate change. This is curious, because usually it is young people who tend to take more risks. But, older people are now the ones taking environmental risks. By not putting the appropriate emphasis on climate change, they are risking suffering thru environmental incidents, like floods. They will not necessarily be the ones who will have to live long term with these risks, but the risks are present now anyway. Of course, the consequences of environmental neglect will be fully experienced by the next generations. It seems to me that the situations are reversed, with young people wanting environmental security and normalcy, they do not want to take risks with the environment. This is a big change. 

Young people might see climate change from a lending perspective. The environment is like a  loan that each generation borrows from the prior generation, at least until they come of age and are able to be responsible for and manage risks. Young people don't know yet if it is a good loan or a bad loan, because it has was a loan taken out a long time ago. We don't know yet if it is a profitable proposition. We simply don't know yet the result. There might be a positive outcome if it is a good loan (e.g. the North Pole does not melt), but there could also be serious consequences if it is a bad loan (e.g. global warming, disappearance of some species, etc.). While young people generally tend to underestimate risk, they do not do so in this case, for this loan on the planet. 

For generations, human actions have led to increasing pollution and global warming. We are at a critical point, perhaps at year 0 of the last loan of the planet. We are trying to determine if this is a good or bad loan, that is, if we will have an environment that is similar to the one inherited by the older generation when they took over responsibility for the environment from their elders. The outcome depends on what we do now. 

The disconnection between the young and old has major impacts on the fate of the planet and its inhabitants. We must find a way to make the older generations understand the risk of climate change. One way to do this is might be to link the economy to climate change.

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