By Katherine Martinko
Children born today will grow up in a disease-ridden, malnourished world unless governments stick to the Paris Agreement.
Unless drastic action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a child born today will grow up in a world that threatens their health and wellbeing from every angle. This is the dire prediction from the 2019 Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a report published annually by the Lancet. It uses 41 key indicators to measure progress toward meeting the Paris Agreement targets, and this year’s report reveals a planet on track to failure.
Children will be most seriously affected. They will suffer from malnutrition, as a result of stunted crops. Already, growing conditions for staple crops have become less favourable (and the crops themselves have become less nutritious). Lead study author Nick Watts said his team tracked maize, soy, rice, and wheat, and that “the yield potential for these staple crops is now down as much as 6 percent.”More children will get sick from an increase in bacteria, enabled by warmer weather. One example given in the report is Vibrio, which causes most diarrhea and feeds on algal blooms that proliferate in warmer seas. A press release stated, “The threat [of Vibrio] is particularly high in the Baltic (with a record high of 107 suitable days in 2018) and in Northeast USA where the sea has been warming rapidly.” Dengue, cholera, and tick-borne encephalitis are also on track to spread further.
Children’s health is threatened by poor air quality, driven by fossil fuel use and warming temperatures. Toxic air stunts lung, health, and brain development, and is linked to premature deaths.