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Today’s children will suffer many more catastrophic natural phenomena than their parents and grandparents

Seven times as many heat waves, three times as many droughts and river floods, and twice as many forest fires. This is the dramatic future predicted by an international group of researchers for people born between 2015 and 2020 if current climate policy does not change.

It is a call to action. We need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to and we have the necessary means to do so ”, says Wim Thiery, who has led this study, presented a few days ago in Vienna.

Entitled “Intergenerational inequalities in exposure to climatic extremes”, it is a joint work of researchers from different universities and experts from the renowned International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), located south of Vienna.

A branch of study

Until now, Thiery explains to Efe, the scientific community had studied the effects of climate change by comparing two specific periods of time.

This new study quantifies for the first time the exposure to natural disasters that a

“It is a new way of looking at data that we already had that allows us to combine two disciplines, ”, details the Belgian researcher.

For a year and a half, the team collected vast amounts of data on living exposure to natural disasters for every generation born between 1960 and 2020, from every country in the world.

In this way they were able to create simulations for future generations based on their country and year of birth and the global temperature increase until the end of the century and, in turn, compare them with the lives of those born in the 1960s.

Possible scenarios

“What we did was consider many future scenarios for global warming, with increases of between 1 and 3.5 degrees until the end of the century”, detalla Thiery.

According to the Paris Agreement (2015), the countries undertook to keep the global temperature increase below 2 ° C in relation to

So far, according to the data provided by the countries themselves to the UN, these levels are not being met, so when speaking of “current climate policy” the researchers refer to an increase of between 2.6 and 3.1 degrees.

With an increase of 3 degrees in global temperature, while before a rise of 3.5 degrees it will even be up to 44.

“We can still keep the rise to 1.5 degrees, or it may go up to 3 or 4 degrees, depending on how we use fossil fuels”, The researcher warns by pointing out that there are “great differences” between what the countries agreed in Paris and what they actually do.

Regional differences

A firefighter fights the flames of a forest fire in Russia, on July 26, 2021. (Photo: Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

The consequences of the climate disaster will be global, but will not affect all countries equally.

In the case of the Middle East and North Africa, for example, people who are now 25 years old or younger will suffer up to seven times more climatic disasters during their lifetime than those of the generation of the 1960s. Meanwhile, for newborns the number of phenomena would even be multiplied by nine.

”Young people and children born in lower-income countries will experience the greatest increase in extreme weather events. ”, warns the researcher.

This is a great problem not only because the living conditions of these people are worse than those of the more developed countries, but also because the total number of those affected is much higher.

“In Europe and Central Asia we have 64 million children born between 2015 and 2020, and they will have to face 4 times more extreme phenomena. But in the same period, 205 million were born in Sub-Saharan Africa who , sentence.

Action margin

An intense heat wave affects North America.  (GETTY IMAGES).

Despite being worrying figures, the researchers consider that there is some “hope” in their study, showing that a limitation in global warming could

To achieve this goal, Thiery highlights the importance of young people, more concerned about the climate issue but limited in their action due to their low representation and power in political decision-making.

“Young people want change, but they don’t have the power to make decisions. On the other hand, the older generations are in a position to apply a change, but they know that they will not live to experience the consequences of their decisions ”, points out.

If the appropriate measures can be taken, the worst consequences for these new generations could still be avoided, the researchers say.

“We can reduce exposure to heat waves by 40% if we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Whereas, on the negative side, if we reach 3 or 4 degrees, there may be”, concludes the person in charge of the project.


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