At what age does a person do the most damage to the climate? According to a new study, between about 45 and 80.
Starting at birth, a person’s carbon dioxide emissions sprint up and up and up, until they hit their peak at age 65. But by 80, a person's emissions are down to 13.1 metric tons. That's about the same amount of emissions they were creating at age 45.
Another way of looking at this is that as people get older (and, presumably, make more money) they just keep consuming more stuff. But then they retire and have less income to buy things. Also, they're spending more of their income on health care.
USA TODAY asks if this means that old age could mitigate climate change. Which it would, if we replaced all the 65-year-olds with 80-year-olds and didn’t allow any new 65-year-olds, but for some reason people tend to frown on the Logan’s Run approach. What really could mitigate climate change is if everyone used less stuff. But we're just going to blame the baby boomers for everything and have done with it.
Could old age lessen climate change? Study sees promise, USA TODAY.
Get Grist in your inbox