Climate Issue Looks Different If You’re Hoping to Be Alive in 2050


One big political obstacle to coping with climate change is that today is never a good day to start making painful adjustments, while the biggest problems with not adjusting today tend to come decades in the future. And one major difference of interests between different groups in the electorate is that many people alive today will be dead decades in the future while others of us are planning to still be alive. That’s why I liked this bit of framing in Ben Adler’s Newsweek piece on Obama and young people.

The first graf:

You might not expect the under-30 crowd to queue up for a cap-and-trade hearing on Capitol Hill. But there they were, all last week, many wearing green shirts with environmental slogans, waiting patiently for hours to get seats for a public meeting on the American Clean Energy and Security Act. At times, fully one quarter of the room appeared to be in their 20s.

Then there’s a bunch of stuff and then the last one:

It seems that is the one thing young liberals and conservatives do agree on: they all expect to live a lot longer, and, whether it is spending or global warming, to bear the consequences of decisions made today.

I’ll be 68 in 2050 enjoying, or not, the long-run consequences of our decision to act responsibly, or not, on carbon emissions. For someone who’s 68 today, by contrast, this is going to look like a question of little consequence.