Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Oil industry consultant Dana Nuccitelli, writing for the Guardian, has launched yet another green attack on democracy, by suggesting that older people who voted for Brexit, or who vote against green policies, are committing “intergenerational theft”.
The inter-generational theft of Brexit and climate change
Youth will bear the brunt of the poor decisions being made by today’s older generations
In last week’s Brexit vote results, there was a tremendous divide between age groups. 73% of voters under the age of 25 voted to remain in the EU, while about 58% over the age of 45 voted to leave.
This generational gap is among the many parallels between Brexit and climate change. A 2014 poll found that 74% of Americans under the age of 30 support government policies to cut carbon pollution, as compared to just 58% of respondents over the age of 40, and 52% over the age of 65.
The problem is of course that younger generations will have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today for much longer than older generations. Older generations in developed countries prospered as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for seemingly cheap energy.
However, we’ve already reached the point where even contrarian economists agree, any further global warming we experience will be detrimental for the global economy. For poorer countries, we passed that point decades ago. A new paper examining climate costs and fossil fuel industry profits for the years 2008–2012 found:
“For all companies and all years, the economic cost to society of their CO2 emissions was greater than their after‐tax profit, with the single exception of Exxon Mobil in 2008”
It now falls to the US to do better than the UK. Risk management and the well-being of future generations must trump ideology and fear in the November elections. We simply can’t afford two of the world’s superpowers being dictated by populism and xenophobia at the expense of our youth’s future.
Most old people I know would throw themselves into a fire if they thought it would somehow improve the lives of their grandkids. Claiming old people en-masse do not care about the young is utterly obscene.
When older people vote for Brexit, or vote against fanatics who think it is OK to advocate disenfranchising groups who oppose their views, just maybe it is because they have the life experience to see through the lies of would be tyrants.