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Heat waves will affect almost every child on Earth by 2050

Heat waves will affect almost every child on Earth by 2050

Some 559 million boys and girls are already exposed to the increased frequency of heat waves, and that figure will reach 2 billion in 2050, according to a study released by the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF).

Catherine Russell, Executive Director of Unicef, said that “one in three children already lives in countries facing extremely high temperatures, and almost one in four is exposed to the increased frequency of heat waves, a situation that is very likely to get worse.”

“Over the next 30 years, more children will be affected by longer, hotter and more frequent heat waves, putting their health and well-being at risk,” Russell added.

Heat waves are periods of three days or more in which the maximum temperature for each day is within 10% of the local 15-day average.

Heat waves affect

The study estimates that 624 million children face one of three indicators of extreme heat: long-lasting heat waves, very intense waves or extremely high temperatures.

The increase in the frequency of heat waves is recorded when there is an average of 4.5 or more heat waves per year, and these waves are considered long-lasting when they persist for 4.7 or more days.

“As hot as this year has been in almost every corner of the world, it will probably be the coldest year of the rest of our lives. The thermometer is rising on our planet, and yet world leaders have not broken a sweat yet” –

Vanessa Nakate

Unicef’s report “The coldest year of the rest of your life: Protecting children from the growing impact of heat waves” reveals that, even if the level of global warming is reduced, in just three decades it will be inevitable that Children around the world are experiencing heat waves more frequently.

The estimate for 2050 is maintained whether by that date the world has reached a “low greenhouse gas emissions” scenario, with a warming of 1.7 degrees Celsius, or if a “very high emissions” scenario occurs, with a warming of 2.4 degrees.

Future of the planet

The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 by the vast majority of the countries of the globe, seeks to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above the level of the pre-industrial era (1850-1900) by the year 2050, or more of two degrees by the end of the century, but trends so far run counter to those goals.

Russell said that “the degree of devastation will depend on the measures we take now. At a minimum, governments must urgently limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and double funding for adaptation by 2025.”

“This is the only way to save the lives and future of children, and also the future of the planet,” added the Unicef ​​host.

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Heat waves are especially harmful to children, as they are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults.

The more heat waves children experience, the more likely they are to suffer from health problems such as chronic respiratory conditions, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Babies and young children are most at risk of dying from the heat.

Heat waves currently affect 538 million children

Heat waves can also influence children’s environment, safety, nutrition and access to water, as well as their education and future livelihoods.

The long duration of these waves currently affects 538 million children worldwide, that is, 23% of them, and the figure will increase to 1.6 billion in 2050 if the warming is 1.7 degrees Celsius, and to 1.9 billion if it is 2.4 degrees.

Children in northern regions, especially in Europe, will face the most dramatic increases in the intensity of heat waves, and by 2050 nearly half of children in Africa and Asia will be constantly exposed to extremely hot temperatures. tall.

There are currently 23 countries with the highest level of childhood exposure to extremely high temperatures. This figure will increase to 33 countries in 2050 if a low emissions scenario occurs and to 36 if a very high emissions scenario occurs.

Thermometer is rising

Saudi Arabia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Pakistan and Sudan are some of the countries that are likely to remain in the highest category in the event of both scenarios.

Vanessa Nakate, climate activist and Unicef ​​Goodwill Ambassador, observed that “as hot as this year has been in almost every corner of the world, it will probably be the coldest year of the rest of our lives.”

The thermometer is rising on our planet, and yet world leaders have yet to break a sweat. The only option is that we continue to pressure them to correct the course we are on,” Nakate added.

He concluded by stating that “world leaders must put all this into practice at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) on Climate Change of the United Nations, to protect children around the world, but especially those who are most vulnerable and that is in the most affected places.

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