Children born in 2016 will suffer more from the effects of the climate crisis than their grandparents

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A child born after 2016 is likely to experience seven times more extreme heat waves in their lifetime than his grandparents. This is shown by a study which, for the first time, examines the risks of exposure of populations to the effects of climate change according to generations.

The climate situation continues to worsen. Based on this observation, we can deduce that a child born in recent years (the children of the Alpha generation) will suffer more from the effects of the climate crisis than his elders. Research carried out by an international team of scientists and published in the journal Science confirms this.

The analysis showed that under current climatic conditions, children and newborns today will experience on average 2.6 times more droughts, 2, 8 times as many river floods, almost three times as many crop failures and twice as many forest fires as people born 53 years ago .

These estimates were developed from computer climate models simulating extreme events (storms, heat waves, fires, floods, etc.), combined with data on the life expectancy of the populations for each generation born between 1960 and 2020. The predictions in terms of global temperature trends made by the IPCC were also taken into account.

In addition to this flagrant generational injustice (the youngest being by definition less responsible for anthropogenic global warming than their elders), the study also demonstrates a serious imbalance between the regions of the

The 53 millions of children born between 2016 and 2020 and from Europe and Central Asia, for example, will experience four times more extreme events than their grandparents. But the 172 million children of the same age born in sub-Saharan Africa will experience 5.7 times more extreme events, including 50 times more heat waves.

Almost a month away from COP 26, the authors of this study recall the urgent need to radically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to respect the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 ° C.

“If we manage to drastically reduce our emissions in the years to come, we can still avoid the worst consequences for children around the world. At the same time, a sober message for young people in low-income countries is emerging, where incredibly difficult extreme events are solidly projected, even under the strictest of future climate actions, “insists Wim Thiery, climatologist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) and lead author

According to a Unicef ​​report published last August, half of the planet’s children are threatened by the effects of climate change, in particular air pollution (1 billion children at high risk), water shortages (920 millions) and heat waves (820 millions).

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