Climate Change: What does it mean for our future?
Oct 31, 2022|13Climate Action
What is Climate Change?
Climate Change is somewhat controversial for many reasons. Many people believe climate change is a natural process where temperature, rainfall, wind, and other elements vary over the years. Therefore, there is little we can or should do. However, others supported by scientific data believe the extreme and unprecedented rapid warming we are experiencing is caused by human activities, primarily due to burning fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions.
Whether you believe in one theory or another, one thing is for sure. Staying still and doing nothing about a situation will never produce any changes. The reality is that humans are growing and expanding rapidly, and in one way or another, we are making the planet less hospitable for us in the long term. Earth might continue to exist, whether cold or hot, but what about humans? We must ensure we protect the environment that allows us to live and thrive on Earth.
Transforming climate issues into solutions
Let's look at the most pressing climate issues we face today and focus on the solutions.
Energy is at the heart of the climate challenge – and key to the solution.
The issue: Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, are the biggest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
Scientific research affirms that to avoid climate change's worst impacts, we must reduce emissions by almost half by the year 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
The solution: We need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable. We've talked about clean and renewable energy in the past - see the blog post "Clean Energy Using Earth's Gifts to Power the World" for more detail about clean energy sources.
Today, according to the International Energy Agency, about 29 percent of electricity comes from renewable sources. However, we still need to do better and stop fossil fuel consumption across the world.
- Renewable energy is all around us. We have the power to pressure our current governments into looking for more renewable energy solutions and investing in developing the industry. This can also create more local jobs and expand economies. Join the conversation, email or write a letter to your local government, talk about it in school, and ask friends and family to get involved.
- Ask your family to change energy providers to one that offers some, if not all, power from clean energy sources. Websites like https://www.forbes.com/uk/advisor/energy/green-energy/ in the UK allow you to search for clean energy suppliers. Encourage your family to research and find a deal that works for your household and the environment.
- Save energy, and get in the habit of turning all lights off when not in use. Unplug unused appliances, and always ensure you use only the power you need.
- Disconnect from the tech and digital world and enjoy some time playing outdoors or engaging in activities that don't require the use of electricity—like board games, playing ball, talking, and sharing with friends and family.
Biodiversity - our strongest defense against climate change
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms, from genes and bacteria to entire ecosystems such as forests or coral reefs. All the animals on Earth and all the plants are considered biodiversity. Today's biodiversity is the result of 4.5 billion years of evolution, and it is still constantly evolving.
The issue: human activity, and more importantly, human expansion, is affecting biodiversity – primarily for food production. Farming displaces local plants and animals to make way for crops and cattle, completely changing the ecosystem in the area. Agriculture is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases which accelerate climate change. In addition, climate change has altered marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems around the world. It has caused the loss of local species, increased diseases, and driven mass mortality of plants and animals, resulting in the first climate-driven extinctions.
Conserving and restoring natural spaces on land and in water is essential for limiting carbon emissions. Around one-third of the greenhouse gas emission reductions needed could be achieved by improving nature's ability to absorb emissions.
The solution: Governments deal with climate change and biodiversity through international agreements – such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)- established at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Similar to the Paris Agreement made in 2015, parties to the Biodiversity Convention are currently working towards an agreement for nature, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. But is this enough? Can governments ensure biodiversity is preserved? Again, actions speak louder than words. We can only hope that together we can achieve the positive changes needed to protect lives around the world.
Actions: You can help. We need your help and all the future generations to come.
- Support local and national parks by visiting and/or participating in biodiversity activities to protect and preserve local ecosystems
- Become a conscious consumer, buy less and reuse more, and do your research when buying new products. Learn about what they are made of and where they come from, and avoid products that entice unsustainable actions.
- Reduce waste of consumer goods: food, clothes, electrical appliances, etc.
- Recycle or compost when possible.
- Educate others about the importance of biodiversity and the dangers of extinction. Speak with friends and family, and watch documentaries together.
- Get involved with local youth nature programs.
- Participate in a beach or park cleaning as a volunteer.
Thinking Cap On
Do some research about the ecosystem where you live, whether near the beach, the mountains, or even a city.
Find out and make a list of the following:
- Trees in the area, how old they are, what they are, and what animals like to live/eat in them
- Animals that are natural to the area
- Any animals brought to the area by humans. Did they misplace other species? When did they come to the area, and how?
- How do the seasons affect the local animals?
- Are there any extinct animal or plant species where you live?
Discuss with your friends and family. Some might need to learn about the ecosystem and how it has evolved in the area.