The devastating impact climate change will have on our toddlers’ health as they grow up if we still don’t stop our planet-warming activities is now well recognised. A report to this effect in a reputed medical journal serves as the last call for the world and India, in particular. Battling rising population, poverty, poor healthcare and malnutrition, the threat is that much more challenging for India. The apocalypse is looming large as efforts to reduce gaseous emissions fall short of the aim to keep the change in temperature at 2°C, as per the Paris agreement. The result of this failure is there for all to see and suffer. Increasing vagaries of nature — brutal floods, raging wildfires, killing heat waves, melting glaciers — are the grim pointers to a calamitous future. At the heart of this fear is the acceleration of toxic emissions, with carbon presence in the atmosphere shooting to record levels. Obviously, we are not doing enough to cut down on burning fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy sources.
Even as Greta Thunberg-inspired waves of children demand a better and safer environment for themselves, the annual Lancet report projects a generation burdened by the polluting after-effects of our reckless activities. The atmosphere is hospitable for deadly viruses and bacteria, leading to a spike in dengue, dysentery, diarrhoea and cholera cases. Being more vulnerable, the children would feel the deadly impact of infectious disease and bear its brunt through their lives. Plus, as crop yield takes a beating in these circumstances, the kids face malnutrition-related problems unless radical measures are taken today.
Extreme situations warrant radical measures and political will to balance economic pressures with green goals. The developed world has to enable the developing nations to tackle this massive problem for a shared, and common good. There is still time to turn from the tipping point that some fear is just a decade away. We cannot ignore the signs any more. Nor should we, for the sake of our children. We owe it to them to mitigate the damage sustained by our unsustainable actions.