How Old Do You Need To Be To Avoid Climate Change Disasters?

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, December 18, 2015

Using the Life Expectancy Calculator at the Social Security Administration website, here’s what they predict for me:

My life expectancy

If I live another twenty years it will be 2035. Many predictions about the future use the years 2020, 2025, 2030, 2050 and 2100 as landmarks. I doubt I’ll make it to 2050, when I’d turn 99. Most of the current political discussion about climate change suggest making fixes by 2030 or 2050, but scientists are saying that’s too late. More than likely, the rest of the 21st century will be filled with climate change disasters.

My friend Connell and I were wondering this morning if we will die before the shit hits the fan.

Do most climate change deniers feel they will just avoid the issue by dying sooner than the eco-apocalypse? Won’t most older people checkout before things get bad? But when will things get bad? If it’s in the 2020s, then you need to be well into your 70s to feel statistically safe. If it’s the 2030s, then you need to be like me, in your 60s. If it’s not until the 2050s, you can be in your 40s. If it’s not until 2100, then you have to start sticking your head in the sand at age 15.

Yesterday I read, “The Siege of Miami” by Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the influential book, The Sixth Extinction. Is Miami the next New Orleans? What would happen if Miami is the next eco-catastrophe and it happens before 2030? What if rising oceans destroys South Florida’s fresh water and millions of people have to move north? Of course, the wetter it gets in Miami, the wetter it will be in other coastal cities, like New York City.

At some point even the disciples of Donald Trump will have to admit that those pesky scientists were right about climate change. The choice then will be to do something heroic or immigrate. Will folks living on higher ground want to ban immigrants from coastal regions? If you think Syrians and Mexicans pose a problem, wait until climate change refuges start moving in.

If people secretly think climate change disasters won’t hit until the 22nd century, 21st century folk are willing to wait and do nothing. What I’m asking is: What if you’re too young to avoid the suffering? What if the ball drops where you live well before 2100, or even 2030.

Connell and I think we might avoid the start of terrible events by only living another twenty years. But what if you’re in your thirties and have two little kids? You aren’t old enough, and that’s not saying anything about your children.

Should old Republicans be allowed to make decisions about climate change? Their philosophy is, “I’ve got mine and I’m going to keep it.” If Republican leaders are allowed to ignore climate change, can they be held responsible if they are wrong? If you read the article about Miami, Florida politicians are going well beyond denying climate change, they want to legalize denial. And it’s obvious why. If they admit Florida has a problem, property values will sink long before Florida will. Who’d want to retire in a flooding state?

That’s why I believe if you’re a certain age, I’m wonder if your inaction is due to thinking you won’t live long enough to suffer. How ethical is it to make a mess and then die to avoid cleaning it up?

Essay #989 – Table of Contents

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