Children Already Bearing Brunt of Global Warming

children_globe_0012.jpgIn light of the most recent report of the IPCC released this week that focused on the effects that we can expect in conjunction with various degrees of warming I thought it worthwhile to do some digging and investigate precisely whom is already most adversely affected by global warming, and what they might be able to do to change their plight. With visions of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath swirling in my head, I certainly expected to find that the insurance industry and the poor would be among the hardest hit this early in the process. But it surprised me to learn that across the globe, children in particular are the single group facing the worst of its effects head-on today. The reason, as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts it is because "The poorest of the poor in the world -- and this includes poor people in prosperous societies -- are going to be the worst hit," and ultimately because "People who are poor are least able to adapt to climate change." Well, the grim reality in our world today is that children as a social group fall right at the bottom of the economic pile, and that regardless of what part of the planet they come from the reasons are very much the same... Their youth means that they have the least physical, political, intellectual, and therefore economic power available to affect the changes that can benefit themselves. In reality there is very little that any of them can do to change their plight in any way. In fact, they often find themselves fighting for their very survival while the adults around them wage wars over resources that leave them scrambling for scraps to survive. And ultimately, according to Save the Children, a charity in the UK who recently released a report highlighting children's vulnerability to climate change, up to 175 million children will be affected every year over the next decade by climate-related disasters like droughts, floods and storms. They go on to point out that this is 50 million a year more than in the 10 years prior to 2005 because being society's most vulnerable members means that children are hurt disproportionately, and that millions more will be killed, forced from their homes or hit by hunger and disease due to climate change if we do nothing to stop it.While I highly doubt that many would disagree that it is quite morally reprehensible to consciously engage in a process which leads to the suffering of hundreds of millions of children; as I watch my family, my friends, and the people around me live their lives in relative comfort I realize it may be tempting for a select few in the First World to point to the information above and feel somewhat callously complacent about the position of their own children in a dangerously warming world. Reasoning that despite the moral implications, our potential ability to adapt to its risks due to our economic strength makes it plausible for us to stand by and do nothing to help chart a different course for humanity. Instead, wallowing in the profits of today at the expense of another's tomorrow... Though, as Robert Muir-Wood, research officer at catastrophe risk-modeling firm Risk Management Solutions points out, " even the wealthiest countries will find it a challenge to adapt quickly and effectively to the increased hazards posed by climate change." And so I think it's quite valid to wonder how well any of us will adapt at all to a world in which the supply of consumer goods on which First World inhabitants are so dependent is constantly disrupted by the inability of the poor nations in which they are produced to adapt to the crisis. Coupled with the increased threat of powerful storms, droughts, wildfires, unreliable water supplies via melting snow pack, and rising sea levels to the first world, and I think the truth remains that despite our economic strengths both we and our children have much to fear from a warmer planet So whether we find ourselves this holiday season as members of the First World, the Third World, or even somewhere in-between; it may be helpful to remember that all of our children share a common future on this planet, and that the actions we take today will have a tremendous impact on all of them, wherever they may be...


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