Vulnerable Children, Climate Change, and the Need to Act

During rainy days, it’s easy to think about the weather but often harder to think about the changing climate. Yet our rapidly changing climate that poses the immediate threat to the health and well-being of many children around the world.

What are the impacts of climate change and, importantly, how does climate change affect vulnerable children? What is our role as adults and as Global Grandmothers? There’s a lot we can do – if we act now on behalf of today’s children and future generations.

“My parents talk about the beautiful country that we live in. Now I only see small pieces of it, which is enough to make me happy, but because the climate is changing I won’t have anything to show my children.” – Mohammed, age 15, Maldives. 1

Climate change is happening quickly. According to NASA and other climate sources, the hottest years on record are 2017, 2016, and 2012, with all 10 of the world’s hottest years occurring during the past 20 years. Why is this happening? More than 97% of climate change scientists agree that humans are responsible for climate change, due largely to our increased use of fossil fuels.

What are the main impacts of climate change? Climate changes act as an amplifier,
increasing both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events (EWEs) that make headlines, like hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and heat waves. Sometimes less “newsworthy” but equally disastrous are the gradual, insidious changes currently affecting huge geographical areas, nations, and continents. These include prolonged droughts, rising sea levels, changing growing seasons, and the loss of habitable land.

We’re witnessing disastrous effects on ecosystems, including historic increases in species’ extinction. We’re seeing how climate change disrupts basic requirements for human health – water, air, and food, leading to higher mortality and disease prevalence, economic hardships and forced migration. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of those seriously affected are children.

Combating climate change is an issue that’s in line with the mission of Global Grandmothers. Sudden disasters and gradual changes impact millions of families and their abilities to protect their children. Children, especially poor children, are at disproportionally greater risk from climate change’s deleterious impact.

About 85% of all children live in countries with average or lower than average incomes and fewer resources to deal with catastrophes. It’s also become clear that even wealthy countries, like the U.S., have struggled to protect children and families from impacts of recent “mega” hurricanes and wildfires. Children are also suffering from other impacts of climate change, like the rising prevalence of asthma from increased pollution due to climate change.

Flooding following Hurricane Harvey’s wrath in Houston

Surveys from around the world show that the overwhelming majority of adults and young people agree that climate change poses a real and immediate threat. Despite efforts of climate change deniers, research shows that adults, adolescents, and children are worried:

“I believe that if we as humans do not change our behavior and actions that are affecting the marine life, consequences of these decisions can result in havoc for the entire world.” – Andrea, high school student, Cook Islands 2

This powerful quote comes from an official statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“The social foundations of children’s mental and physical health are threatened by the specter of far-reaching effects of unchecked climate change, including community and global instability, mass migrations, and increased conflict. Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children. A paradigm shift in production and consumption of energy is both a necessity and an opportunity for major innovation, job creation, and significant, immediate associated health benefits.” 3

Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF (2015), stated the challenge simply and eloquently:

“No human responsibility runs deeper than the charge of every generation to care for the generation that follows it. For current and future generations of children, and for us all, the stakes could not be higher.”

Worldwide, major health organizations and humanitarian NGO’s underscore that children are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As caring adults and Global Grandmothers, it’s our responsibility to act, to support children and future generations worldwide.

The nonprofits we support provide needed structure to the most vulnerable children in the world, many of whom are at risk of being negatively affected by climate change. To help on this pressing issue, please support Global Grandmothers, as well as our recommended nonprofits.

In addition, here are some helpful resources for adults and children for how to help further:

For adults:

For children:

  1. UNICEF UK, Climate Change: Children’s Challenge, 2013
  3. around/Pages/Climate-Change-Policy-Explained.aspx
1 reply
  1. Paola Gianturco
    Paola Gianturco says:

    Last week, I was at the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting and Mary Robinson, head of CLIMATE JUSTICE (and former President of Ireland) said something that captured my attention: “We will not have gender equality unless we deal with the environment.” That’s a connection I’d never made and I found it provocative.


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