Ethical considerations regarding the effects of climate change and planetary health on children
Williams, P. C.,
Ethical considerations regarding the effects of climate change and planetary health on children.
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 57 (11), 1775-1780.
Climate change represents one of the most significant health challenges and global inequities of our generation. As a ‘wicked’ problem, climate change imposes an involuntary exposure on vulnerable individuals and societies that is regressive in its nature, with those least responsible for destroying planetary health at greatest risk of suffering the direct and indirect health consequences of unabated warming of the planet. The current and future generations of children are the most vulnerable population to suffer the effects of climate change. By 2030, there will be 131 000 additional child deaths each year if climate mitigation strategies are not enacted, driven by the synergy of an increasing burden of infectious diseases, food insecurity and political instability. Over half a billion of the world’s children live in areas vulnerable to extreme weather events, and there is a pressing risk that our current lack of action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will result in today’s children, and future generations, being the first to have poorer physical and mental health than previous generations – creating a significant intergenerational ethical dilemma. Child health-care professionals need to advocate for policies to address climate change that consider the complex health, planetary and ethical considerations necessary to solve the most significant risk to our children’s health today. Without immediate action, the health of the current and future generations of children is perilous.
climate change, children, health consequences, ethical considerations