Here’s what the new climate report says about my 1-year-old daughter’s future

Elsewhere in the world, mudslides covered the Japanese town of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture, torrential torrents inundated entire villages in West Germany, and a wildfire devastated the Canadian town of Leighton.

Some of these disasters pose real risks of physical harm to children. Take heat waves and extreme heat: Pregnant women, infants, and young children are more susceptible to heat than older children and most adults because their bodies are not good at cooling off and staying that way. Studies show that exposing an unborn baby to extreme heat while in the womb can lead to negative health outcomes later on, such as low birth weight.

For older children, as the number of hot days increases with global warming, they are at greater risk of heat exposure in schools without air conditioning and during outdoor activities, such as sports.

This latest IPCC assessment also discusses how disasters, both acute exposure to one and long-term recovery, can harm the mental health and well-being of everyone affected, especially children.

After major floods in the United Kingdom in 2000, for example, researchers tracked the health of people whose homes were flooded and not, according to Kristi Ibe of the University of Washington, who helped write the health chapter of the report. “There was a very clear difference in potential anxiety, depression and PTSD” between the different groups, she explained.

The disasters that are making headlines, which are becoming more frequent and more severe, are perhaps the clearest signs of how 1.1°C of warming has occurred, compared to pre-industrial times. But there are more climate influences here already, as the new report details.

Even before my daughter was born, for example, two species became extinct and climate change played a role: the golden frog of Costa Rica in 1990, as well as the Australian Bramble Cay melomys, a species of rodent, in 2016. A third species came dangerously close to extinction: the tailed possum Australian lemuroid. And there were more local extinctions: local, climate-related extinctions were detected in 47% of the 976 animal and plant species examined.

The impact of climate change on current problems with food availability and rising prices could be a “killer combination for children,” said Rachel Pezner Kerr of Cornell University, co-author of the IPCC’s chapter on food systems. countries, especially low-income families, especially in rural areas.”

“We have one study that showed, between 1993 and 2012, that higher temperatures were significantly associated with child wasting in 30 countries in Africa,” she added. Wasting refers to a child who is too thin for his height, according to the World Health Organization.

Malnutrition is already a major problem for children in some developing countries, and this problem will only increase in a warmer world if no specific actions are taken to avoid this possibility.

How hot will it be at my daughter’s age?

When world leaders signed the Paris climate agreement in 2016, they agreed to jointly limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), ideally to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists now predict that it is “more likely” that global average temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees in the coming decades, no matter what. That could happen by 2030, when my daughter is just 10 years old.

That’s why the next few years are so important. How quickly people will reduce greenhouse gas emissions this decade will help determine how the 1.5 degree threshold is crossed and what happens next. Will temperatures continue to rise or begin to fall?

Moreover, what people do now to begin adapting to global warming that is already there and locked into the future will reduce the damage associated with the crisis.

By 2030, for example, it is possible that countries will adopt the bold goal of protecting at least 30% of the planet’s land and water. If so, this could have cascading benefits, from keeping some species alive to enhancing natural ecosystems that protect against flooding, help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and do much more. And if China moves to a half-carbon-zero energy supply for homes and vehicles by 2030, according to the report, the country can expect to prevent 55,000-69,000 deaths that year.

It is also possible that urban areas could see 2.7 times more flooding by 2030 than in 2000, or an additional 48,000 children under 15 could die from diarrhoea, or 122 million people living in extreme poverty could die, or That severe droughts in the Amazon will accelerate the migration of traditional and indigenous communities to cities, or that fresh water will be very limited for some small islands.

By 2040, when my daughter turns 20, the glacier on Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, may disappear.

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