As global temperatures rise, children must be central climate change debates

May 4, 2016, Princeton University

Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather will all alter children's lives and the lives of their own children. And yet, children are largely left out of discussions about appropriate responses to climate change, according to a journal released by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution.

Forecasts suggest that by 2050, the world could see 200 million environmental migrants, many of whom would be children. For this reason and others, children should be central to such debates. They—as well as future generations—have a much larger stake in the outcome than current generations, authors argue in the latest volume of Future of Children.

The joint Princeton-Brookings publication outlines how climate change is likely to affect children's health and wellbeing, identifying policies that could mitigate the harm that climate change will cause.

"Decision-making surrounding climate change is greatly complicated by the high degree of uncertainty involved in virtually all of its aspects. Yet waiting for uncertainty to be resolved before acting isn't a viable option, given the risk of allowing irreversible changes to the planet," said senior editor Janet Currie, Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "When we consider that people today must pay the price of efforts to mitigate climate change but people in the future will reap the benefits, all of these uncertainties make it harder to decide how to balance future generations' wellbeing against our own."

Four interrelated themes emerge from the issue:

  • Climate change will fundamentally alter Earth's climate system in many ways that threaten children's physical and mental wellbeing, both directly and indirectly.
  • Today's children and future generations will bear a disproportionate share of the burden caused by climate change.
  • Poor children, children in developing countries and countries with weak institutions face the greatest risks.
  • The uncertainties associated with climate change and its mitigation—coupled with the fact that the costs of policies need to be paid now, but the benefits will accrue in the future—make it difficult to enact appropriate policies.

The findings in this issue have clear implications for policymakers and researchers trying to tackle the many challenges that climate change poses:

  • Establishing a large-scale international and coordinated policy response to climate change has proven difficult. Children and lack a presence in the debate. The 2015 Paris Agreement, the positive outcome of more than 20 years of international climate negotiations, may prove to be a fundamental step in addressing the threat of climate change, but its effectiveness won't be known until two to three decades from now. This state of affairs highlights the fundamental uncertainty that characterizes the issue of climate change, as well as the need to find a way to act despite that uncertainty.
  • Even as efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change increase, the climate system will continue to grow warmer for a significant period of time. Thus, policies must be developed to prepare and adapt in the face of inevitable climate change. States, cities and communities throughout the world must promote preparedness and resilience.
  • Large-scale adaptive responses to climate change entail significant societal impacts. For example, countries and communities need to prepare for large-scale migration of poor and vulnerable populations. As previously noted, forecasts suggest that by 2050 we could see 200 million environmental migrants, many of whom would be children.
  • Additional public health investments and interventions are needed to educate people about the risks climate change poses to children and to protect individuals and communities from its effects. Advance warning of excessive heat, outreach, and air-conditioned cooling shelters and community centers have succeeded in mitigating the impact of extreme heat. Education and warnings are especially important because the populations most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change are young and the elderly. Climate change may therefore place increased demands on already financially-fragile public policies.
  • More research across the entire spectrum of disciplines is needed, from improving and to better measuring and identifying possible adaptation strategies to developing new methods for effective decision making in the face of long time horizons and deep uncertainty.

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14 comments

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gkam
2.6 / 5 (18) May 04, 2016
How do Deniers live with themselves?

Certainly they know it is their selfishness which drives their decisions.
Estevan57
4 / 5 (11) May 04, 2016
Hey stupid, the article isn't about deniers.
Talking about (baiting) deniers just serves your own selfishness. Lonely today?
gkam
2.9 / 5 (15) May 04, 2016
I think it is the Deniers who are selfish.

And they bear some responsibility for what is going to happen to my grandchildren.

Feel guilty today?
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (11) May 04, 2016
I think it is the Deniers who are selfish.

And they bear some responsibility for what is going to happen to my grandchildren.

Feel guilty today?

The jackass who burned 150 dollars of gasoline a month, brays.
Uncle Ira
3.9 / 5 (11) May 04, 2016
I think it is the Deniers who are selfish.
Especially the ones who deny that they are hypocrites while they lie their way to the moral high ground.

And they bear some responsibility for what is going to happen to my grandchildren.
What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Feel guilty today?
What a stupid question that one is. Do you?
gkam
2.6 / 5 (10) May 04, 2016
"The jackass who burned 150 dollars of gasoline a month, brays."
------------------------------

I hear you, Fourlegs.

Last month we burned none. How about you?

5500 miles on the car now and no gas or oil or filters or tuneups or maintenance. No looking around for the best price - it is always 2 1/2 cents/mile, charging up at home.

How did you go your last 5500 miles?

Pollute much?
Estevan57
3.2 / 5 (9) May 04, 2016
There, you found one, now you don't have to be so stupid, and can switch to being smug instead.
howhot2
4.6 / 5 (11) May 04, 2016
You know what @antigoracle? The more I read the more apocalyptic global warming seems to be. This article make a number of points about future climate and how our children will respond. The context is global, but the issues are the same ones that we've argued for years in these forums. Will there be enough food? Will there be enough water? Will climate change flood urban areas? Will global warming make areas uninhabitable? How will societies react when climate change impacts them in an adverse manner?

This article isn't the only one expressing grave concerns about the future for large swaths of the globe. I don't see a way out of it. Humanity has placed to many demands on the environment for it to recover.
antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (8) May 05, 2016
5500 miles on the car

I would ask you, how much electrical power you burned and where it came from, but then we all know, what a pathological liar you are.
gkam
2 / 5 (8) May 05, 2016
Well, now you do not get to find out.

Still driving your stinking, dirty, clattering diesel polluter?
Willis_Eschenbach
2.5 / 5 (8) May 08, 2016
Oh, please, spare me the "poor children" nonsense. The author says:

"And yet, children are largely left out of discussions about appropriate responses to climate change"

Surprisingly, children are left out of adult discussions of just about everything—sex, politics, business, and yes, climate change.

The only reason the green machine wants to involve their kids is because they've already brainwashed them to say "Please, Obama, stop the eeeeevil fossil fuel sellers" ...

Pathetic.

w.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (9) May 08, 2016
No, Willie, I want my kids to breathe air clean of radionuclides and soot and carbon monoxide and other toxins. I earned a degree in this field and resent those in other fields assuming we are the problem. The problem is their ignorance of the issues and their own political prejudice. The science is clear.
Shootist
1.6 / 5 (7) May 08, 2016
How do Deniers live with themselves?

Certainly they know it is their selfishness which drives their decisions.


"The polar bears will be fine". -- Freeman Dyson is smarter than you are, smarter than all of you. How is it he is wrong and you are "right".
howhot2
5 / 5 (3) May 11, 2016
How will the Shootist survive when the polar bears won't. Let's leave that question up to Freeman Dyson who apparently knows all. NOT! POS.

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