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Newborns in 2020 could experience 30 extreme heat waves in their lifetime

Will today's children be much more affected by climate change than people born around the middle of the 20th century? According to a climatologist, the answer is yes. Newborns in 2020 could experience seven times more extreme heat waves in their lifetime than people born in 1960.

More frequent episodes of extreme heat in the future

Thirty extreme heat waves during the lifetime of newborns in 2020. This number may obviously seem enormous. Nevertheless, European and Chinese researchers led by climatologist Wim Thiery of Vrije University (Belgium) have confidence in their report published in the journal Science October 8, 2021. Babies born from 2020 will therefore be seven times more exposed to extreme heat events than humans born around 1960.

For the authors of the report, this significant gap is directly related to global GHG emissions . In addition, the researchers took into account in their estimates the promises that the various countries made at the various annual UN Climate Conferences (COP). However, considering the current commitments of the states, the average temperature of the Earth is still expected to increase by 2.7°C by 2100.

Newborns in 2020 could experience 30 extreme heat waves in their lifetime

An irreversible generational disparity

The report quantified the exposure of younger generations to various extreme weather events. Thus, scientists estimate that children born in 2020 will experience twice as many fires and 2.8 times more floods (of rivers) than people born in the 1960s. drought (x2, 6), crop failure (x3), and of course extreme heat waves (x7).

This increase in the risk of extreme heat waves is only an average. Indeed, everything depends on the geographical location of the place of residence. For example, children living in the Middle East could experience ten times more extreme heat waves than their grandparents. According to the authors of the report, this generational disparity would not fade, even in the case of more drastic measures to reduce these GHG emissions leading to an increase in temperatures of only 1.5°C instead of 2.7°C. currently planned.

Finally, the scientists believe that their study comes at an important time. The latter want their results to be discussed at the next COP26 which will take place from October 31 to November 12, 2021 in Glasgow (Scotland). Undoubtedly, the latest IPCC report of August 2021 should also be at the heart of the discussions.