HOW CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AFFECT CHILDREN

Environmental pollution can be described as a deadly earthly disease that affects plants, animals, flora and fauna and humans. It is caused due to excessive burden on natural resources by an ever-increasing human population. It tampers with nature which protects the existence of animate and inanimate creatures.

Climate change and environmental degradation affect all types of factors in all countries especially the health of the children due to adverse effects of outcomes of pollution due to the modern technologies.

Environmental degradation impacts also include, for example:

■ destruction of forests, causing soil degradation and threatening agricultural livelihoods

■ building of dams or diverting rivers upstream causing water shortages and increased

workloads to collect water

■ destruction of coastal protection such as mangroves, leading to exposure to storm damage, waterlogging of soils, and relocation of communities

■ smoke and air pollution from factories using chemicals causing increased ill health

■ all the above can lead to increased poverty.

Due to current environment condition the diseases are common in infant children as well as elders. The diseases can include any of these – Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Skin cancer, Lung cancer, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke, Lead poisoning, Mercury poisoning, Radiation augmented cancers, Allergies, Birth defects, Lung diseases due to occupational exposure to various toxins; the list is endless.

We are all regressing towards an unhealthy future for every living creature not only human beings. The signals of depleting health are loud and clear – pollution – in air we breathe, water we drink and use for various purposes and inorganic food we process and eat.

Children face special risks from air pollution because their lungs are growing and because they are so active and breathe in a great deal of air.

Just like the arms and legs, the largest portion of a child’s lungs will grow long after he or she is born. Eighty percent of their tiny air sacs develop after birth. Those sacs, called the alveoli, are where the life-sustaining transfer of oxygen to the blood takes place. The lungs and their alveoli aren’t fully grown until children become adults. In addition, the body’s defenses that help adults fight off infections are still developing in young bodies.Children have more respiratory infections than adults, which also seems to increase their susceptibility to air pollution.

Furthermore, children don’t behave like adults, and their behavior also affects their vulnerability. They are outside for longer periods and are usually more active when outdoors. Consequently, they inhale more polluted outdoor air than adults typically do.

Keeping the hazards on mind we all shall Plant a seed of kindness. tree of kindness and watch kindness grow …

A special initiative by promoting writings of children

– Wassam Shaikh, Class VIII, Fauji Foundation Model School (Jauhar Campus), Karachi, Pakistan.

Let’s come together to challenge the effects of climate change

“In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace”. – Wangari Maathai

We the people of Jos, Nigeria are facing the impact of climate change in our lives. Flooding, drought, pollution of all kinds are the effects of climate change we have been suffering for some years now. In fact, due to the impact of climate change, large areas of Nigeria are facing the problems of desertification, where fertile land becomes barren desert. Due to these problems there are issues of water scarcity and these leads to conflicts. Children and women suffer the most due to these issues.

Almost 25 years ago, due to climate change, the north-eastern region of Nigeria comprising Borno and Yobe states, the southern parts of Lake Chad, the portion that lies inside Nigeria dried up. Also, for instance in the south-eastern part of Nigeria there are gully erosion which has devasted many settlement areas and farmlands. All these problems lead to poverty and health problems.

While large areas of northern Nigeria suffer from desertification, our country’s coastal areas are threatened by rising sea levels.

Climate change and environmental degradation do affect us physically, psychologically and even academically. Flooding has been the major problem in our community. It destroys our houses and farms every year. Many lives were lost as a result of flooding. A lot of us have not been attending school. There are others who have to stop going to the school because the money we got from our farm products is not sufficient enough to pay our school fees; this is the result of our crops being destroyed by flooding that occurs each year.

Climate change threatens the nutrition and health of thousands in Kano and other places in the country. About 80 per cent of people fall victims of malaria and other killer diseases every year as the result of water and land pollution. Out of every ten people, one dies every week and others suffer from various diseases.

Climate change has negative impacts on children: sickness, illiteracy, death, dropouts from school, unclean drinking water among others. Electricity becomes scarce. In a nutshell, climate change is one of the major factors that makes our cities and even our states under- developed.

Children and young people need to be educated on how to reduce pressure on natural ecosystem. We should promote children and youth participation in maintenance of ecological structure and biodiversity conservation in a big way. Sustainable education should be made compulsory and a national initiative on sustainability management needs to be done.

The Peace Gong Nigeria hopes to bring together children and young people to create awareness on the concerns of climate change and work on ecological conservation.

A special initiative by promoting writings of children

– Aisha Shuaibu, 18, The Peace Gong Nigeria.

Pollution affecting children in Nigeria

Different types of pollution in Nigeria are affecting large population of the country especially children. Air pollution is creating variety of problems especially concerns of health. The situation is getting worse every year.

Different types of water pollution in Nigeria include domestic water pollution, industrial water pollution, agriculture-based water pollution and oil spill water pollution.

There are serious problems of deluge and water contamination. Sometimes it becomes very bad and we have to wait until everything gets cleared before we can go to school because most of the roads become full of dirty water and objects.

The deluge and contaminated water make us fall sick. This water pollution is a health hazard. We suffer from malaria and some people lose their lives as the result of damages it causes.

Problems of pollution and poor waste disposal make our surroundings unhygienic and uncomfortable to live. Scientific research proves that for one to perform well, s/he must live in a place which is hygienic and comfortable so that s/he can learn fast and better and be academically sound.

Furthermore, we have been experiencing flooding in our community every year and whenever it occurs, it destroys our farms, houses and affects many lives.

But nevertheless, as a student involved with The Peace Gong Nigeria, I will establish a group of students that would be advocating for good hygienic surroundings, weekly sanitation drive in our locality and together will work to stop throwing dirty objects in our surroundings, schools and communities.

In the end, it is important to quote the Native American Proverb, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

A special initiative by promoting writings of children

– Shuaibu Abubakar, 16, The Peace Gong Nigeria.

Climate changes affects children

In recent years there have been many alarming reports that the world’s climate is undergoing a significant change. All these reports provide strong evidence that world temperature is increasing day by day. This increase is known as global warming caused by increased amounts of carbon dioxide around the earth. Most of the climatologists believe that the greenhouse effect is the most likely cause of this global warming.

Due to the environment pollution climate of the whole world is going through an alarming change. Climate change means global warming of the air surrounding the earth on result of heat being trapped by environment pollution. There are many causes of greenhouse effect.

The impact of climate change is too many to be described. Its effect is very devastating, destructive and dangerous to the children.  In a warmer world, scientists discuss how more people get sick or die from heat stress. The tropical diseases that may spread among our children include dengue, fever, yellow fever and encephalitis, rising incidence of allergies and other respiratory diseases.

– Noor Mohammad Zaiyan, Class-III, The Peace Gong Bangladesh.

Let us to grow enjoying the love of our Mother Nature

The sun is shining….

Pretty flowers are blooming…

Birds are singing….

Bees are flying….

Where can all these happen?

It is not anywhere

But in our lovely nature…

BUT,

We children are so sad today…

It is not the same that was so glamorous yesterday…

What a nice Nature we all had yesterday….

That is not what we saw yesterday….

Elders say that it is because,

“Global Warming”, “climate change”, “Deforestation” so and so…..

We children really do not understand,

Big, big words…

For us,

It is too hot today…

Too noisy today…

Too smelly today.

Dear loving elders,

What we children need is to let our bird friends, flower friends, bee friends breathe freely…

Please let us to grow up enjoying the love of our Mother Nature……

– Ms. R.W.E.M.R. Piyumi Buddhima Ekanayaka, 17 years old, Ku/ Weuda Royal Central College, Mawathagama, Sri Lanka.

Delhi Youth echo their concern on growing environmental degradation

Unless we practice conservation, those who come after us will have to pay the price of misery, degradation, and failure for the progress and prosperity of our day. – Gifford Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation.

Pollution is the most talked about issues these days. When it comes to how pollution and environmental degradation affect our lives, it covers a wide area. We have been experiencing climate change for a few years now and the effects are matter of concern all over the world. This is a worldwide problem.

The youth plays an important role in taking the lead to shape environmental issues. Therefore, it is important to know what views young people hold when it comes to climate change and environmental degradation and its impact.

When asked ‘what effects pollution and environmental degradation have on them, Mehak Singhaniya, a student of clinical psychology said, ” Pollution is no doubt having a deep impact in our everyday life especially when it comes to our health. Those living in Delhi cannot avoid catching up with the polluted air. It obviously is harmful for people with breathing problems but it really isn’t sparing the healthy people either. It’s like every time you gasp for air, you are torturing your lungs. We now find a large number of children of the city are suffering from respiratory problems. This is a grave situation.”

Mehak pointed out, “Increasingly we find that the summers are getting longer and the winters are getting shorter. The glaciers are melting rapidly and the ozone is getting depleted. The animals are dying because their natural habitats are being destroyed. It is alarming and we need to tackle this situation with urgency.”

Akansha, another student expressing her views on the gas chamber like situation in Delhi observed “Personally, my biggest concern regarding this are health problems. We have already lost a large number of species. The only known habitable planet is our Mother Earth and this is how we are treating her.” E O Wilson in Biophilia has rightly said, “The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”

Akansha felt there was need for all to self-introspect on how we are harming the very Earth where we are living. “We must start from ourselves. ” If you are not making conscious efforts to save the planet, then you have no right to complain about the ways it affecting you.”

Anubhav Heber, a theatre artist said, “We need to educate and sensitize right from childhood on how we should protect the Earth and what are the right habits we should inculcate. Enjoying a sustainable lifestyle should be a matter of habit and should come naturally to all of use. ” Anubhav said Delhi has emerged as a gas chamber due to mindless destruction of green lungs of the city, mindless construction, unprecedented rise in population and extraordinary growth of vehicles.

Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said, “The Earth provides enough to fulfill everyone’s needs but not their greed.” If we want our future generations to be able to breath without a mask and enjoy a calming sunset by the river, I think it is time that we take some serious action. The Peace Gong feels that we children and young people are the stewards of Mother Earth and we are duty bound to protect by all means. The stage we are in today means there is no scope for any laxity anymore; lets press our emergency button otherwise our extinction is a surety.

A special initiative by promoting writings of children

– Jiya Khan, Class X, The Peace Gong New Delhi.

Climate change issues affecting Waynad

The district Wayanad is a high mountainous plateau on the peak of Western Ghats- a global biodiversity hotspot. The district has been recently classified as one of the 4 Climate Change Hotspots of Kerala, and it is an important Wayanad Watershed Terrain (WWT) of the Nilgiri region.  The district enjoys a tropical humid climate and holds a magnificent panoramic view of rolling hills and snow-clad mountain peaks, which makes the district very unique.

Wayanad is considered to be one of the earliest human settlement areas in Kerala as evidenced by the historical monuments and other pre-historic documents. Wayanad has the highest concentration of tribe community people in Kerala, forming 17.1% of the total population of the district.. The Biodiversity of Wayanad is very rich both in terms of diversity and high percentage of endemism.

Climate changes and causes

Recently Wayanad has faced a disastrous change in climate which affects the entire district. Rising uncertainties in monsoon rainfall and rise in maximum temperature have cast a shadow over agricultural activities in Wayanad. The State Action Plan on Climate Change has identified Wayanad as one of the four climate change hotspots in Kerala, with a high degree of vulnerability to calamities like drought, forest fires and man- animal conflict.

The disappearance of orange farms in Wayanad, presence of Indian cuckoos, the shift to coconut, arecanut and rubber crops, the presence of insects and certain plants that inhabit dry land, uniform flowering of bamboo and the gradual disappearance of mist (koda) were early indications of climate change in the district.

The weakening of rainfall in the early phase of the South West monsoon, wide variation in the North East monsoon and the rise in temperature (from 28 to 39 degrees) were other indicators. Mining activities, deforestation, land use changes and reclamation of paddy fields and wetlands also aggravated the situation.

Natural phenomenon like heavy rain and human activities such as deforestation and quarrying are usually the factors behind these geological processes. According to a preliminary examination by experts in Wayanad, the marshy nature of its land may have caused the subsidence.

Landslides and flash floods

Landslides triggered by the rains and floods crippled road connectivity to many parts of Waynad.

Since the onset of the south-west monsoon on May 29, 2018, Wayanad district in Kerala has experienced 247 landslides, land slips and land subsidence or cave-ins. A large number of these occurred on August 9, 2018. This is quite unusual as the hilly district – part of the ecologically fragile Western Ghats – did not register a single landslide or landslip in the last three years while the last reported case of land subsidence dates back to 2008.

As Kerala experienced its worst floods in a century that left 483 people dead, Wayanad received an average 2,944 mm of rainfall between June 1 and August 29 – 24 per cent higher than the normal precipitation for this period. The catchment area of the Banasura Sagar dam, 20 km northwest of district headquarters Kalpetta, received the highest rainfall of 4,824 mm, causing floods. Later, landslides, landslips and land subsidence virtually cut off the district from the rest of the state for many days.

This has raised concerns about the changing nature of Wayanad’s land and the increasing vulnerability of one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in the world.

“There were 47 landslides, 155 landslips and 45 [instances of] land subsidence from June 1 to August 30 this year,” said district soil conservation officer PU Das. “The geological incidents left a trail of destruction in the district. This is a record of sorts.”

Landslides and land slips are defined as the mass movement of rock, debris or earth down a slope. During landslides, the earth breaks as it cannot withstand the pressure exerted by rain water while land slips usually occur when layers of soil disintegrate under pressure. Land subsidence is any downward movement of soil that causes the land to sink or collapse. Deep cracks or fissures in the land are signs of subsidence.

According to Mr. P.U. Das, Dt. Soil Conservation Officer, Wayanad the northern, northwestern and western parts of Wayanad bore the brunt of the landslides. He blamed these on rampant construction that has blocked primary and secondary water streams. The small stream where a river originates is called a primary stream while a secondary stream is formed by the joining of primary streams. “Buildings have come up in the way of first and second order streams,” said Das. “The earth gets saturated with water and this causes landslides.”

Another factor behind the landslides is soil dissociation, according to Mr Das. “During heavy rain, earth dissociates into gravel, clay and fine particles,” he explained. “This disintegration weakens the earth.”

Vulnerable Western Ghats

Kerala accounts for 18 per cent of the 1,600-km-long Western Ghats, a mountainous stretch that runs through five other states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Western Ghats are said to be one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world.

Yet, attempts to conserve this ecologically sensitive mountain range and bring it under strict development rules have been met with stiff resistance from all six states. In 2011, a panel headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil studied widespread ecological devastation in the Western Ghats and divided 64% of the region into three zones: highest sensitive, high sensitive and moderate sensitive. It recommended a stop to mining, polluting industries and large-scale development activities in the highest sensitive and high sensitive zones. But all six states opposed these recommendations.

A year later, the Central government formed another committee, headed by scientist K Kasturirangan. This committee watered down many of the Gadgil panel’s recommendations. It divided the Western Ghats into cultural lands (areas with human settlements) and natural lands and recommended that 60,000 square km or 37% of the total area of the Western Ghats be declared ecologically sensitive.

By 2017, the Centre had notified 56,285 square km of the land as sensitive. The Kasturirangan panel had recommended that 13,108 square km of the area in Kerala be declared sensitive but under pressure from the state, the Centre brought down the notified area to less than 10,000 square km.

Citing the floods in Kerala, the National Green Tribunal on August 24 restrained the six states from giving environmental clearance to activities that may hurt the region’s ecology and warned against reducing the sensitive area notified by the Centre.

Linking the lack of conservation effort to the landslides, landslips and cave-ins in Wayanad, soil conservation officer PU Das said, “This year’s geological incidents showed Wayanad is indeed an ecologically sensitive area. We need to take urgent measures to protect the Western Ghats.”

– Staina, Gopika , Safna (all 17), The Peace Gong Kerala.

(This article is a result of extensive research from different sources).

‘I saw trees, debris and water sliding towards us’

At around 4 am on August 9, 2018, a landslide swept through Makkimala in Tavinhal gram panchayat. There are 27 homes in the neighbourhood. All residents save two – Zeenath and her husband Razak, who lived close to the mountain – managed to escape to safety.

Wayanad had never experienced such a landslide before. “It has remained intact even during heavy rainfall,” he said. “I don’t know what is happening to our surroundings.”

In Kurichiarmala, 50 km south of Makkimala and one of the highest points in Wayanad, around 300 villagers had a miraculous escape the same day as a landslide narrowly missed their homes. But it destroyed 100 acres of tea plantations.

The landslide struck without warning, villagers in Kurichiarmala quickly moved to a relief camp after 60-year-old Cheku, a retired plantation worker and trade union leader, sounded an alarm. “I heard a loud noise at around 10 am on August 9,” he recalled. “When I looked at the forest, I saw huge trees, debris and water sliding towards us. We were lucky the debris flow diverted just 20 metres away from our neighbourhood.”

But Das had another explanation for the subsidence in Wayanad. “We have noticed that all cases of land subsidence were reported near paddy fields,” he said. “Studies have proven that the plains in Wayand were marshy before they were converted into paddy fields. The excessive rain revived the marshy nature of the land and it resulted in subsidence.”

– Safna, 17, The Peace Gong Kerala.

Pre-independence era School devastated due to floods

Kurichiarmala is one of the highest points in Wayanad district, and also one of its more remote areas. Kurichyarmala school started in 1930s, before the Independence. This school is the only source of knowledge for the children of tea estate. The workers were from Tamil Nadu , so the medium was Tamil. Later, in the 50s the people from south Kerala migrated and settled in Kurichyarmala, then the school was converted to the Malayalam medium. At the beginning of 1960s a local leader, Saithalavi had worked to convert this school into a Government School.The school gives cool, tranquil atmosphere where even foxes, mongoose, pythons can be seen near the rocks and trees. This school on the mountain is a hope for the locals.

School damaged in the landslide

On August 9, a huge landslide wreaked havoc in Kurichiarmala, in north Kerala’s Wayanad district. It destroyed hundreds of acres of forest land and tea plantations, wiped out five houses, killed many cattle and threatened the lives of hundreds of tea plantation workers living nearby. Families living on the hill were shaken when a large section of the hill began to slide. The wreckage and rock it brought down almost destroyed this lone government lower primary school in Kurichiarmala village in Pozhuthana Gram [Village] Panchayat. This put a question mark over the likelihood that the 92 students in the school – which has been closed since the beginning of August because of the rain – would resume classes anytime soon.

The district administration had ordered schools in the area to shut in the first week of August because of heavy rain that had led to floods and landslides all across the state. From June 1 to August 29, 2018 Wayanad had received 2,944 mm of rain, an excess of 24% from the normal rainfall in the district for that period.

After the rains subsided, the government announced that schools would re-open on August 29. 2018. But that was easier said than done in Kurichiarmala. The school building was all but destroyed. Large amounts of debris – mud, rocks and trees – were piled in front of it. District officials suspect that the force of the debris hurtling down the slope may have damaged the building’s foundation. Though the exact nature of the damage to the structure will be ascertained only later, the district administration has decided to abandon the building and asked the education department and gram panchayat officials to identify a suitable location for a new building.

But what would the students do in the meantime?

That was a question that troubled headmaster PK Sasi. He approached the district administration on August 25, 2018 to identify an alternative building to be used as a temporary school, but did not get any assurances from them.

The local mosque committee then stepped in, saying that a temporary school could be set up in its madrasa building, which is just a kilometre away from the damaged school.

This offer and the labour of a group of 40 volunteers ensured that the children in the area were able to start attending school from August 29, 2018 without any further delay.

– Gopika & Staina (both 17), The Peace Gong Kerala.

Effect of climate and environmental degradation on children

Being a denizen of a mountain desert at 11000 feet in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, Nature has left us well high and dry. Climatically, linguistically and culturally we are a microscopic minority in India who live in the second coldest place on earth where survival is difficult, yet it makes us more resistant to the coldest climate. Living in such a place was like a blessing in disguise for us.

There was a time when the lily white snow covers up the whole region as if the almighty has draped this place in a white sheet. But for the last few years I am noticing a change on our region’s climate.

Summers are getting so sweltering hot that even the glaciers can melt with a very trifle amount of snowfall during winters resulting in freezing cold climate which culminate in various diseases especially in toddlers and children’s like acute pneumonia and various respiratory diseases. The scorching summer adds fuel to the fire for health issues related to children.

It creates problems like sunburn, melanoma, heat stroke, drowsiness, gastro-intestinal diseases which are very new for us.Secondly the ecological alterations triggered by climate are increasing malnutrition, allergies, mycotoxins and various born diseases among children.

The only credit for these diseases goes to the human activities which have contributed to climate change. Because of exploration of natural resources like their own legacy, the alteration of climate is affecting the health of children, who are yet to be born!

In Kargil the major source of water for drinking, irrigation and electricity is only the Suru River. Some decades ago this river used to have immaculate and crystal-clear water but with the passage of time people started contaminating this by various activities like washing, throwing garbage and as part of the drainage.

This water is still used for drinking purposes by adding some chemicals like chlorine to kill bacteria and pathogens considered as a choking agent which affects the health of children; and if it’s taken in high amount it causes irritation in skin and throat. It can also lead to diseases like Asthma and cancer.

Living in high altitude area

Being a native of dry and arid area, there has always been a low oxygen pressure which affects our breathing rate directly.

The increased presence of sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide in atmosphere aggravates the breathing difficulties in kids because of their rapid breathing rate and their immature organs.

Plants are considered as the lungs of earth; they provide shelter, food and medicines to us. We can’t imagine earth without plants even for a second.

Like Earth is dependent on plants, 70 percent of Kargil is dependent on agriculture for their survival. For the betterment of their crops farmers use pesticides and weedicides to avoid pests and insects, conscious of the harmful effects on animals which graze over it. The use of pesticides and insecticides alter the purity of milk of dairy animals which is indirectly affecting infants feeding on such milk.

At last there are so many things which are affecting not only humans but animals also.

Even a child should experience development in an environment that has not been crippled and degraded by the previous generations’ apathy which was based on their selfish motives.

No child should suffer from the harmful impacts caused by human activities or absence of fresh water and sanitary conditions and their right to have pure, fresh water and uncontaminated food.

– Iftikhar Hussain, Class XI, Peace Gong Bureau, Kargil

Environmental Rights of Children

If the present generation cuts down trees, then their children will have to pay the penalty.

Climatic conditions help to shape various ecosystems and habitats around the globe. A climate can be a boon to one species and a bane to another. Changes in climate have gradually resulted in a dramatic shift in ecosystems. Such climatic changes have resulted in an environment which is not been suitable for children; because firstly, environmental changes associated with anthropogenic greenhouse gases that may lead to respiratory disease like asthma; secondly, these changes also directly cause gastrointestinal diseases and heat stroke; thirdly, they give rise to vector borne diseases and emerging infectious diseases. So, at last I would conclude that improving this change is necessary as every child should enjoy and experience development in an environment that has not been severely crippled and degraded by the previous generation’s apathy. Therefore the full development of every child’s potential should not be hampered by the barrier of harmful side effects of exploiting natural resources.

– Anjali Rawat, Class X, Universal Public School New Delhi

BEWARE OF CLIMATE CHANGE!

Many reports inform us about the impact of climate change on agriculture and the crop loss suffered by farmers in recent years.

Climate change is an urgent challenge for the world’s children. It is estimated that over the next decade approximately 175 million children a year will be affected by climate-related disasters; in the next two decades from 37.5 to 125 million African children will be subjected to water scarcity, and by 2050 an estimated 25 million more children will be undernourished because of climate change.

Children are recognized as most vulnerable to its impact and should therefore be in the forefront of climate change policy, advocacy and research – but they still are not. Furthermore, it is their right to participate in all matters that affect them – and yet this rarely happens.

– Preshika Sharma , Class X, Universal Public School, New Delhi

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