Here’s What The New Climate Report Says About The Future Of My 1-Year-Old Daughter

Heavy mudslides in Japan, widespread flooding in Germany, and devastating wildfires in Canada—these are just a few examples of the disasters occurring around the world due to climate change. Such events pose real threats to the physical well-being of children. For instance, extreme heat waves can be particularly harmful to pregnant individuals, infants, and young kids, as their bodies struggle to regulate temperature. Research even suggests that exposure to extreme heat during pregnancy can lead to negative health outcomes in children, such as low birth weight.

As global warming leads to an increase in hot days, older children face the risk of heat exposure in schools without air conditioning or during outdoor activities. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also highlights the impact of these disasters on the mental health and well-being of everyone affected, especially children.

Following major flooding in the United Kingdom in 2000, researchers observed a significant difference in probable anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder between individuals whose homes were flooded and those whose homes were not affected. Climate change not only manifests through headline-grabbing disasters but also through numerous other impacts.

Even before my daughter was born, climate change had caused the extinction of two species—the Golden toad in Costa Rica in 1990 and Australia’s Bramble Cay melomys in 2016. The Australian lemuroid ringtail possum came perilously close to extinction. Additionally, climate change has led to local extinction of nearly half of the 976 animal and plant species examined.

The combination of climate change with existing challenges related to food availability and high prices poses a lethal threat to children, particularly in low-income countries and rural areas. Studies have shown a significant association between increased temperatures and malnutrition in children across numerous African countries.

So, what can we expect in my daughter’s lifetime in terms of temperature rise? When the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2016, world leaders committed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, scientists now predict that it is more likely than not that global average temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in the coming decades, possibly as soon as 2030.

Therefore, the next few years are crucial. The actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during this decade will determine whether global temperatures continue to rise or start to stabilize. It is also essential to adapt to the warming already locked in for the future to minimize the associated damages.

By 2030, countries may adopt the ambitious goal of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and water, which would have far-reaching benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Transitioning China to a more sustainable energy supply by 2030 could prevent tens of thousands of deaths. However, without significant action, urban areas may face increasing flood risks, childhood mortality from diarrhea could rise, extreme poverty may worsen, traditional communities and Indigenous peoples in the Amazon may be displaced due to droughts, and freshwater scarcity may threaten small islands.

Looking further ahead, by 2040, the glacier on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, may disappear entirely. It is clear that the effects of climate change are already impacting our world and will continue to do so in the future, ultimately shaping the environment in which my daughter and future generations will live.

What do you think?

Written by Western Reader

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