Today’s children will face lifelong health effects from the climate crisis

"Without immediate action from all countries climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.”

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Study after study shows the detrimental health effects of climate change. From air pollution to rising temperatures, we are warned on nearly a daily basis of the risks of not cleaning up our air and our planet. Now researchers are warning we have gone past the point of no return, and that the world’s current youngest generation will face lifelong health problems because of climate change.

Researchers working on the annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, which tracks the impacts of global heating on health, have revealed that children are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change and that they will most likely face the consequences throughout their entire lives. The report is produced by 120 experts from 35 institutions around the world.

According to the report, rising temperatures mean bacteria causing deadly diarrhea will thrive and poorer crop yields will lead to malnutrition for millions.

In 2018 there were 220 million more people over 65 that were exposed to heatwaves, compared to 2000. Human exposure to wildfires has also become an increasing issue, with numbers doubling since 2000. “At a global level, there is an increasing exposure,” said Elizabeth Robinson, a co-author of the report.

Researchers are broadcasting the results of the Lancet Countdown to generate a more rapid response. “Our children recognize the climate emergency, and demand action to protect them,” said Hugh Montgomery, co-chair of the Lancet Countdown. “We must listen, and respond. This year the accelerating impacts of climate change have become clearer than ever.

The Lancet Countdown also tracks the spread of infectious diseases. The newest report shows that in the case of dengue fever, an incredibly painful disease spread by mosquitos, nine out of the 10 most suitable years from transmission have happened since 2000, with 2018 being the second-highest levels ever recorded since the 1950s.

“Children’s bodies and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants,” said Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown. “The damage done in early childhood lasts a lifetime. Without immediate action from all countries climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.”

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