Climate change could undermine children's education and development in the tropics

tropics
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Education of children is one of the ambitious goals for sustainable development as a way to alleviate poverty and reduce vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. Yet, a new study by a University of Maryland researcher published in the April 15, 2019, issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that exposure to extreme heat and precipitation in prenatal and early childhood years in countries of the global tropics could make it harder for children to attain secondary school education, even for better-off households.

University of Maryland researcher Heather Randell, lead author who conducted the synthesis study as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, and co-author Clark Gray, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that climatic conditions affect education attainment adversely in multiple ways. In Southeast Asia, which historically has high heat and humidity, exposure to higher-than-average temperatures during prenatal and has a harmful effect on schooling and is associated with fewer years of attending school. In West and Central Africa, and Southeast Asia, greater rainfall in early life is associated with higher levels of education. In Central America and the Caribbean, children who experienced more than typical rainfall had the lowest predicted education.

Surprisingly, children from the most educated households were not cushioned from the , and they experienced the greatest penalties when they felt hotter and drier conditions in early life.

In the study, Randell and Gray investigated the links between extreme temperature and precipitation in early life and educational attainment in 29 countries in the global tropics. The research has implications for determining vulnerability to climate change and development trajectories.

"If climate change undermines educational attainment, this may have a compounding effect on underdevelopment that over time magnifies the direct impacts of climate change," the authors write. "As the effects of climate change intensify, children in the tropics will face additional barriers to education." The authors expected that children from better educated households would fare better, but found instead that climate change could erode the development and education gains in the tropics, even for better-off households, who have the most to lose as their advantages wear away.

Randell explained that as children in the tropics feel the intensifying effects of climate change, they will face additional barriers to education and this is more evidence of the varied social impacts of climate change. Policies to safeguard children in these exposed populations, for example making sure pregnant women and young children can get relief from and humidity, or providing heat or drought tolerant crop varieties, could limit long term impacts of climate change, Randell explained.

"While these results may not be directly related to schools, they are important factors in that affect a kid's school trajectory," said Randell. "People rarely think about how kids' education is directly linked to climate. But this is really important given the extent that climate change is impacting extreme weather events. We need to better understand what gains in education are possible, and how can act as a barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We have to take climate into account, plan for it, and design policies to create more resilient populations given that we know climate impacts are going to be worse in the next decade."

Randell and Gray's PNAS paper builds on their earlier study published in 2016 in Global Environmental Change that found how climate variability competes with schooling in Ethiopia and could lower adaptive capacity for generations.


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More information: Heather Randell el al., "Climate change and educational attainment in the global tropics," PNAS (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1817480116
Citation: Climate change could undermine children's education and development in the tropics (2019, April 15) retrieved 19 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-climate-undermine-children-tropics.html
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Apr 15, 2019
Ha ha ha HAAA! - The appropriate response to the conclusions of these kinds of "scholarly" studies that are riddled with methodological problems.

investigated links between extreme temperature and precipitation in early life and educational attainment in 29 countries in the global tropics.

Yeah, right. Because there couldn't be a host of other reasons for differences in educational attainment that have far greater impact while temperature and precipitation are incidental, not causal factors.

Apr 15, 2019
People rarely think about how kids' education is directly linked to climate. But this is really important given the extent that climate change is impacting extreme weather events.

Funny in so many ways.

Kids in Winnipeg, Manitoba go to school (average high of 12° F in January) and so do those in Yuma, Arizona (average high of 106° F in July and August). I'll bet "climate" has no impact on their education.

There is no measured evidence that "climate change" is impacting "extreme weather events" at all. None. Read IPCC AR5, Chapter 2 "Observations: Atmosphere and Surface" section 2.6 "Changes in Extreme Events". Computer models predict big changes, observations show no changes.

The AGW theory predicts most warming will be at the poles, little in the tropics. Over the last century measured global average temperature has increased 1.8° F (1° C). The tropics have experienced much less than that. Much ado about nothing.

Apr 16, 2019
Askdaddy simply another Antigoracle sockpuppet clearly illustrating his total baboonish understanding of climate change, for decades often haggling it out with his own sockpuppets thinking everyone does not see this hilarious behavior lol, the conclusion is always the same, that pea inside the head, is nothing more than just that ;)

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