WASHINGTON — Childhood is usually a simple time in a person's life. These moments consist of carefree days at the playground or grabbing some ice cream on a hot summer day.
But it won't be all toys and games for children born today. A recent study shows that kids born in 2020 will face anywhere from two to seven times as many climate disasters as someone born in 1960.
The study was published in the journal Science and found that if the planet continues to warm at its current rate, the average 6-year-old could see twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 2.5 times more crop failures, and 2.3 times more droughts.
This news has the attention of doctors in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
"So climate change is an incredibly large health threat. I think it's one of those things that people forget to think about," said Dr. Neelu Tummala, an ear nose, and throat specialist at George Washington. She is also a surgeon and co-director of the Climate Health Institute at George Washington.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says health impacts include the risk for diseases from ticks, mosquitoes, air pollution, allergies, and heat-related illnesses.
"A lot of time, little kids, especially babies can't converse with you and tell you when they're overheating, they're feeling fatigued, and they're feeling heat stress," Dr. Tummala said.
She sees the toll allergies can take on people firsthand. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the growing season is lasting longer and that plants are producing more pollen. The agency stated that plant pollen is also more potent because of warmer temperatures and increased carbon dioxide.
"Allergies themselves cause huge lifestyle issues, right. You can't breathe through your nose, you got a ton of postnasal drainage, you feel miserable," Dr. Tummala said.
Allergy symptoms could lead to other health problems.
"It also increases your risk of developing a sinus infection when you have all this nasal inflammation and swelling," Tummala explained.
These issues can have ripple effects.
"With children's learning, they are more impacted by having more severe allergies, more recurrent sinus infections, and sleep is also impacted," she said.
For the sake of future generations, she is hoping for change.
"Unless we take aggressive action to address climate change, these health concerns are only going to get worse."