Not something to put on the Back burner
The U.N. climate panel has released its most comprehensive assessment of climate change to date. The main conclusion places the blame firmly with mankind. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summarised, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”. This is marked shift from vaguer language used in previous reports which reported humans being the cause as “highly likely”.
Another key takeaway is that temperatures will keep rising. Weather will also continue to become more extreme and arctic summers could soon be free of ice. The IPCC predict that the summertime sea ice atop the Arctic Ocean will completely vanish by 2050. This region is the fastest-warming area of the globe. Another fact we can’t ignore is that sea levels will rise, and previous once-in-a-century coastal surges will occur annually by 2100.
Sadly, the concluding message is that we are running out of time. The goal of meeting the Paris Agreement of limiting warming to 1.5C means we will have to stick to a strict carbon budget – this is the amount of additional carbon we can afford to be pumped into the atmosphere before this goal is out of reach. At current rates, we will have exceeded this budget by around 2030.
However, as humans, we are not actively trying to destroy our planet and being educated about the effects of our actions does actively encourage us to seek alternatives and protect our precious planet and the creatures we share it with. Over the past century, passionate organisations have brought back many animal and plant species from the brink of extinction. The peregrine falcon became endangered in the 1970s but due to conservation work and the banning of a synthetic pesticide which was found to contaminate their diets, their population is now on the rise. Sea otters, blue whales, island night lizards, fruit bats, the pygmy water lily, sturgeon and many other species are experiencing an increase in their numbers due to human intervention.
The problem of climate change is vast and can seem insurmountable for any individual to help. Yet it is by making small changes that we will start to see a positive effect. Make your voice heard by those in power, write to your local councillors and MPs and tell them you think action on climate change is important. Try to eat less meat and dairy, cut back on flying, leave the car at home and opt for other transport methods. Cutting consumption and waste are easy steps you can take today to help the climate change problem.