How Children Suffer From Climate Change

Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/3570190449/sizes/l/in/photostream/">Oxfam</a>/ Creative Commons

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


As MoJo‘s Kate Sheppard discusses here, a new report by international humanitarian organization DARA finds that climate change could kill up to 5 million people in the next 10 years—and most of them are children under the age of 5 in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This predicted increase in mortality isn’t due to Hollywood-style tsunamis or apocalyptic winters. Instead, the killers are much more ordinary: malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

Of course, one way to help the planet—and the families most impacted by the planet’s health—is to bear fewer kids in the first place. As Julia Whitty wrote in “The Last Taboo,” overpopulation is a huge climate change driver that’s rarely discussed—until this week. During the UN-sponsored climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, media mogul Ted Turner suggested such radical ideas as one-child policies and monetary rewards for not reproducing. Turner was quickly shut down by former Irish president Mary Robinson, who said, “If we do it the wrong way, we can divide the world…A lot of people in the climate world could communicate this very badly.”

Turner’s statements may have been the flashiest, but they weren’t the only population-related ideas to come out of the Cancun climate talks. Population Action International‘s Roger-Mark de Souza told me that whenever he attended sessions on REDD, deforestation, or financing, someone would say, “‘What about overpopulation? How does this factor in?'” PAI’s panel there on female empowerment and family planning attracted 100 attendees, where consensus was that there continues to be a “strong unmet need for family planning.” (See side panel schedule here: PDF.)

Unfortunately for the climate, and women, many of the countries that will be most affected by climate change are poor ones where high gender inequality hinders female education and access to contraceptives. Notes de Souza, “it’s important to also get men engaged and understanding why family planning is important. The more that we have men serving as champions for the issue, the more success we will have.”

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.