The future doesn’t look too bright for kids growing up today as climate change destabilizes the global environment.
And it turns out that the present is also cause for concern.
Scientists have increasingly linked climate change to health problems, but a new paper published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics argues that the vast majority of these issues affect children.
In fact, children are estimated to suffer 88% of the illnesses caused by climate change, according to the report.
Even more alarmingly, the authors of the report wrote that climate change “threatens to reverse the gains in global child health and the reductions in global child mortality made over the past 25 years.”
"The basic message is that climate change is occurring, and I think it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations, and that includes children," Kevin Chan, the lead author of the report, told CNN.
The report argues that an increase in global temperatures, severe storms, droughts, extreme precipitation, and more are all causing health problems.
Droughts are triggering dust storms and forest fires that increase the prevalence of lung diseases like asthma, and rising temperatures are making heat strokes and dehydration more common. Higher temperatures are also making it easier to contract infections from insects. In the US, for example, mosquito and tick infections are skyrocketing as warm seasons expand.
Severe storms, meanwhile, can contaminate food and water supplies.
The researchers hope that a better understanding of the health impacts of climate change with spur greater environmental interventions.
"A lot of the research is very, very broad and tends to look more at adult population,” Chan told CNN. “I don't think they factor in the specific impacts on children themselves, and I think more research is needed in that arena. We really need more efforts into addressing climate change to protect our children."
This isn’t the first time that physicians have warned about climate change.
The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, a collection of healthcare professionals, formed last year to inform doctors and the public of the consequences of climate change.
“There was an increasing realization that physicians across the country were seeing similar impacts from climate change in their medical practices and on the basis of that, we brought them together,” Mona Sarfaty, program director of the consortium, told Global CItizen at the time.
“We wanted to alert the public that climate change is posing a risk to the health of every American,” she said. “People trust their physicians to look out for their health and doctors feel a responsibility to let their patients know what they’re seeing.”
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Global Goals, which call on countries to mitigate climate change. You can take action on this issue here.