It’s true: the data on the spiraling planetary crisis, the cascading health effects, and widening inequality due to climate change are extremely daunting. In fact, they can cause us to look away, paralyzed by the enormity of the problem. But what if our refusal to change our ways has ripple effects to future generations? Will we pay attention, then?
During the last two decades, my own research and that of many other scientists has revealed the extraordinary vulnerability of children to climate change and air pollution, both largely due to fossil fuel burning. By studying pregnant women and their children, we have shown that climate change and air pollution are causing serious harm to children’s health and developing brains, even while they are in the womb. This is nothing short of a public health emergency and especially for children who, because of their skin color or family income, are hit the hardest. But policy, technological, and individual solutions exist, and there is much we can do—and should do.