Climate Change Will Cost Each Millennial $187K -- So Yeah, We're Screwed

by John Haltiwanger

A lot of people criticize Millennials for being self-absorbed, entitled and indifferent to important matters.

But these are pretty tiresome stereotypes that are way overplayed.

Not to mention, can we talk about all the ways we've been completely screwed by older generations?

A lot of us graduated from high school or college amid the Great Recession, which has negatively impacted us arguably more than any other group.

We're the most educated generation in history, yet around 13 percent of us are unemployed.

We also have an astronomical amount of student loan debt to pay off.

This generation just can't catch a break.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like yet another hardship is about to be bestowed upon the largest and most diverse generation in US history.

A new report from NextGen Climate quantifies the potential cost of climate change to Millennials and their children, and it's not pretty.

The report, entitled "The Price Tag of Being Young," states,

The millennial generation will lose approximately $8.8 trillion in lifetime income if we fail to act on climate change... The fact is, unchecked climate change will impose heavy costs on millennials and subsequent generations, both directly in the form of reduced incomes and wealth, and indirectly through likely higher tax bills as extreme weather, rising sea levels, drought, heat-related health problems, and many other climate change-related problems take their toll on our society... Thus, while millennials are the greatest hope for a more progressive, inclusive, and democratically empowered society, their future is all too precarious thanks to a profound failure of leadership on the serious economic challenges, and the huge climate risks, they uniquely face.

To put this $8.8 trillion price tag into perspective, around 40 million Americans currently owe approximately $1.3 trillion in student loan debt -- an issue that's already debilitating far too many young people across the country.

The report stated the lifetime cost of climate change per individual would be around $187,000. This is 40 percent more than the lifetime cost of student loan debt per individual ($113,000), and also a great deal more than the individual lifetime cost of the Great Recession ($112,000).

Simply put, climate change could cost Millennials more than both student loan debt and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Unless our elected representatives make a concerted effort to combat climate change, it looks like Millennials will be picking up a very substantial bill for the wide array of problems it has the capacity to bring about.

Climate change is real, it's a product of human activities and it's up to all of us to address it.

The good news is a majority of Millennials favor taking strong action on climate change. We just need politicians to listen.