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Posted at: Nov 15, 2019, 6:42 AM; last updated: Nov 15, 2019, 11:24 AM (IST)

Children face lifelong health burden of climate change: Lancet

Says 4°C rise by 2090 to have harmful impact on kids | More malnutrition as yield potential of key crops shrinks

Effects of air pollution

  • 3% increase a year in climatic suitability for Vibrio bacteria that causes cholera in India since early 1980s
  • 11% increase in total energy supply from coal from 2016 to 2018. Over 97,400 died due to coal burning in 2016
  • 5,29,500 premature deaths reported in 2016 were due to dangerous levels of outdoor fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5)
  • 9 of 10 most hospitable years for dengue transmission have occurred since 2000. Half of world’s population is at dengue risk

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 14

If the world follows a business-as-usual pathway, with high carbon emissions and climate change continuing at the current rate, a child born today will face a world on average over 4°C warmer by their 71st birthday, threatening their health at every stage of their lives.

New research from 35 global institutions published in The Lancet reports on extensive health damage from climate change and sets out the lifelong health consequences of rising temperatures for a child born today should the world refuse to address climate change challenge urgently.

As temperatures rise, infants will be vulnerable to the greatest burden of malnutrition and rising food prices, researchers say. They cite the average yield potential of maize and rice already having declined almost two per cent in India since 1960s with malnutrition currently causing two-thirds of under-5 deaths.

The report finds that children will be among the most to suffer from the rise in infectious disease.

“Climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that causes cholera is rising three per cent a year in India since the early 1980s.

Throughout adolescence, the impact of air pollution will worsen,” the research paper says, adding that total energy supply from coal increased 11 per cent in India from 2016 to 2018; and dangerous levels of outdoor fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) contributed to over 5,29,500 premature deaths in 2016 out of which over 97,400 deaths were from coal.

“Extreme weather events will intensify into adulthood with India seeing an additional 21 million people exposed to wildfires since 2001-2004 and 22 billion additional hours of work lost due to extreme heat since 2000 (12 billion in agriculture),” states the research.

Worldwide changing weather patterns are creating favourable environment for Vibrio cholerae bacteria with global suitability rising almost 10 per cent since the early 1980s — increasing the likelihood of cholera outbreaks in countries where the disease does not regularly occur.

“Spurred on by climate change, dengue is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. Nine of the 10 most hospitable years for dengue transmission have occurred since 2000. Around half of the world’s population is now at risk of dengue,” says the research. 

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