Study: Climate Change May Cause Stunting, Malnutrition, Lower IQ

Climate change is already causing deaths.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — A study predicted that climate change would lead to stunting, malnutrition, and poorer cognitive capacity in children. 

The Guardian reported that the study by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia — which collated scientific research from about 120 journal articles to look at the health impacts of the climate crisis in Australia and the Pacific — also pointed out that rising global temperatures were already causing deaths.

“There are absolutely people dying climate-related deaths, [especially due to] heat stress right now,” one of the report’s authors, Misha Coleman, was quoted saying.

“During the Black Saturday fires [in Victoria in 2009] for example, we know that people were directly killed by the fires, but there were nearly 400 additional deaths in those hot days from heat stress and heatstroke.”

The report said decreased nutritional value of staple crops due to higher carbon dioxide concentration was expected to cause stunting, malnutrition, and anaemia in children in one or two decades.

Climate change was also expected to affect childhood development, as the study cited research that found children born to women who were pregnant during floods in 2011 in Brisbane had lower cognitive capacity, which equalled at least 14 points on the IQ scale, less imaginative play, and smaller vocabularies at age two.

John Thwaites, chair of the Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University, reportedly said severe weather events were causing flooding, especially in informal settlements in the Pacific, which leads to diseases like diarrhoea that’s particularly serious for children.

The report also noted that an increasingly hotter planet would expand mosquitoes’ habits, leading to more cases of dengue, chikungunya and zika, besides causing other diseases to spread to Australia like the Nipah virus and Q fever.

“What’s the future for our children?” Coleman was quoted saying. “These events are more common, more frequent and not going to become less so in a short amount of time.”

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