Climate change is slashing half a year from our lives, research shows

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Climate change is slashing half a year from our lives, research shows
When you think of climate activists, you mainly think of Greta and the inspired army of ardent, young protestors. And that's probably not a misconception either; studies have shown that while some climate awareness is prevalent across all generations, younger generations actually feel more threatened by the ongoing crisis.
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While growing climate anxieties might be predominantly greying the hairs of the younguns, a new study has shown that its life-leeching capabilities may not be as selective.

According to the latest research, climate change can reduce our life expectancy by up to six months on average. These findings were produced after delving into the intricate connection between temperature, rainfall, and life expectancy across 191 countries and 80 years, shedding new light on the interconnectedness of the climate crisis and human life.

The team's innovative approach introduces a first-of-its-kind "composite climate change index" that takes both temperature and rainfall into account, offering a more nuanced picture of the issue. Temperature and rainfall are tied in very closely to many public health concerns while being two important indicators of climate change, and are thus effective factors into calculating the new index.

The results are stark. A global temperature increase of just 1°C is linked to a drop of around 0.44 years in life expectancy, equivalent to six months and one week. Even more concerning, a 10-point increase in the composite climate change index translates to a similar six-month reduction in lifespan.

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For reference, life expectancy refers to how long someone might have left to live, based on their demographic and individual factors. In contrast, lifespan is the maximum age average members of a specific population have been observed to live till.

The study also reveals other troubling disparities. Women and individuals in developing nations, burdened by already vulnerable healthcare systems and limited resources, are expected to bear the brunt of this decline. This emphasises the need for equitable, targeted solutions that prioritise the most affected populations.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is paramount, alongside proactive initiatives to help communities adapt to changing weather patterns. To form an even more comprehensive picture of the situation, the researchers encourage localised studies that delve deeper into the impacts of specific extreme weather events. This includes incidents such as wildfires and tsunamis that are not fully captured by temperature and rainfall alone.

The findings of this research have been published in PLOS Climate.
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