A Panel of International Health Experts Warns About the Climate Change Potential Impact on Kids

November 15, 2019

by Andreea Sterea

Climate change is the root of all evil to some. Others are still denying it. Amid hot debate, health experts released a report sounding the alarm regarding the climate change impact upon kids. In short, the next generations should expect a grim future.

The Climate Change Potential Impact on Kids Through the Eyes of International Health Experts

The the medical journal The Lancet published a study analyzing the climate change potential impact on kids and the situation is not peachy. We do live in a world where people suffer from more and more heat waves, diarrhea diseases, mosquito-induced diseases (malaria and dengue), lung problems due to pollution, and other health issues. These are not news for medical experts.

In fact, we recently reported about the crisis in New Delhi, a city fighting such severe levels of air pollution, it declared a state of public health emergency. Imagine being a child breathing in nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and lead. Who can in all honesty believe that child won’t suffer from major health complications in the future?

According to the new Lancet report – The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change – the situation is dire right now and will become even more dangerous for the generations to come. As one of the report’s authors said in a statement referring to children having to go through the effects of man-made climate change

I cannot think of a greater health emergency.

The Lancet Report on Climate Change Health Risks

While we cannot reproduce here the entire report – although anyone can read it for free if they subscribe to the publication – we can offer a few facts and figures. They are worrying and can paint a more accurate picture on what we can expect in the future if we don’t curb those emissions very soon.

  • The number of days for the water-borne bacteria Vibrio to find the best conditions to spread have doubled since 1980;
  • The year 2018 was the second highest on record for the number of days when conditions were ripe for the spread of Vibrio.
  • Due to rising temperatures, the United States coastline is more vulnerable to Vibrio by 29%.
  • The cholera version of Vibrio increased by 10%.
  • Dengue fever has become more prevalent and aggressive starting with the 2000s.
  • Lyme Disease can spread farther because of a warming climate.

In case you do not know what Vibrio is, it is a bacteria causing severe diarrhea diseases. It also has a cholera version and cholera isn’t something anyone would like to talk about past the Middle Ages. And yet…

Climate Change Potential Impact on Kids and Future Generations

Again, it is not news that some of the most vulnerable categories when it comes to spreading diseases or environmental ones are the children, the elderly, the poor, and the sick.

rom heat waves to air pollution and from bacterial infections to illnesses spread by insects, these categories fare the worst. Respiratory diseases, kidney problems, digestive problems, and infections are just the tip of the iceberg.

Since no one has ever experienced first-hand and long-term the effects of climate change on human health, doctors and experts expect nothing good. After all, we live in an unprecedented time with unforeseeable outcomes.  

What doctors can do is warn us. And they did. In the words of Dr. Nick Watts – lead author of the Lancet report -,

Children are the most vulnerable. They will bear the vast majority of the burden of climate change. Their health will be hit by climate change in a profoundly different way.

But is the situation as dire as they lead us to believe?

When It Comes to Climate Change Potential Impact on Kids, There is Only One Possible Solution

It is painful for us, as scientists, science buffs, and ordinary people to hear the words “man-made” either we talk about climate change or antibiotic resistance. The dinosaurs didn’t have a choice but to go extinct, they had no saying in the matter, but what is our excuse? 

The Lancet report acknowledges the fact that medicine, technology, and public health measures improved amazingly in the past decades. We are not in the Middle Ages anymore. We live longer, and better, and we do have cures and vaccines for diseased that wiped huge chunks of the global population not so long ago.

However, climate change threatens to destroy everything that we’ve built with so much work and sacrifice. Upon reading and praising the report, Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association said

We can’t ‘doctor’ our way out of this. We must address the root causes of climate change.

And while we are not here to spark debate on the roots of climate change or the right ways to put a stop to it before it is too late, we do feel it is our duty to at least recognize that we all have to look into the matter and do something.

Further Reading

The 2019 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate [https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(19)32596-6.pdf]

Photo Courtesy Of

Center for Disease Control

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