Let's make a deal: win-win climate change policy.

AuthorRobinson, David

There are 18 million Canadians over 40 and 18 million under 40. They live in different worlds. Whether they know it or not, they are slipping into an economic war.

If you are over 40, you are safe --global warming is not likely to hurt you too much. Your camp may burn up, your basement may flood, and the heat waves will be brutal. But 30 years from now--in 2049--you will be dead or in an old age home.

You will miss the worst effects of the climate catastrophe. You have no stake in the second half of the 21st century. And you dominate Canada's government.

If you are under 40, you are going to spend your life with a growing sense of doom. You will be trying to make a living in the second half of the 21st century. Your next 15 years will see a swelling catalogue of floods, fires and deaths.

You may suffer from ecological grief or pre-traumatic stress syndrome. You may decide that you can't bring children into this world. The generation before you will have taken that joy and tribulation away.

Yes, these are stereotypes. There are lots of 70-year-olds who have been working to open people's eyes. There are boomer vegans and first adopters for electric cars. And there are some very conservative young people committed to their pickup trucks, beef barbecues and flying to Mexico at Christmas. Even so, polls show the generations are, at least on average, quite different.

The over-40s have more Conservative voters, fewer climate change believers, and can't stand the thought of paying more for gasoline, even if it doesn't really cost them a cent.

Under-40s are more likely to be in a panic, more likely to vote Green or Liberal, and more willing to spend to spend government money to fight global warming.

Basically, the older generation doesn't get a lot of benefit from fighting global warming.

The young do. If the two generations can't take dramatic action soon, they will do future generations irreparable harm.

Young people who suspect the older generation is screwing them will jam new programs and new taxes down the throats of the older generation. We will have an intergenerational economic civil war.

So let's make a deal.

The over-40s should sell the right to make any decisions about the rest of this century to the under-40s.

Or, to put it a less contentious way, the young should bribe the...

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