A report by the United Nations’ team of leading climate scientists warns that there are only a dozen years before the world’s temperature will rise by one and a half degrees Celsius, resulting in irreparable damage to the planet. This will cause wildfires, flooding, drought, extreme heat and poverty for millions of humans and animals around the world.
The threat of climate change sounds like something from a dystopian film, but the truth is that it’s real life and it is happening now. Reports say that urgent measures are needed to stop the planet’s temperature from rising by two degrees Celsius.
Half a degree may not seem like much, but it could be the difference between life and death for many. Looking at recent hurricanes, flooding in many parts of the world, and the wildfires currently raging in California, it is obvious that climate change is already having an effect on the Earth.
The world’s current temperature is already one degree higher than pre-industrial era levels, and it’s taking a toll. If the temperature rises by two degrees, coral reefs will be one hundred percent wiped out, ocean levels will rise by around ten centimetres (four inches), and sea levels will become warmer. It may also affect the growing of crops such as barley.
Louisa Casson, ocean campaigner at Greenpeace UK, has said ‘Our global oceans need a global treaty. Our oceans sustain all life on Earth and a network of ocean sanctuaries can breathe life back into them.’
However, it is not necessarily the individual who will change the climate of the world. It is in the hands of world leaders to try and slow down the effects of climate change. ‘They really need to start work immediately,’ said Professor Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). ‘The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough.’
Limiting the rising global temperatures could give people and the world’s ecosystems more time to react and keep their area of the globe below the risk thresholds.
‘Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of one and a half degrees Celsius or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,’ said Professor Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the IPCC.
It is clear that the world needs to act now if we want a fighting chance at survival. Whilst governments need to work to start saving the planet, there are some things that you, an individual, can do to help too. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by climate change, but starting small means that you can help the world in a big way before it’s too late.
- Join a movement. In order for us to truly have an effect on climate change, we need to band together. Groups like Greenpeace, 350, 4Ocean, or your local green group are all brilliant options.
- Eat less meat – especially beef. Beef can result in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of meat, whereas tofu contributes less than three and a half kilograms.
- Use public transport. As students, we are unlikely to have our own cars, but even still, using public transport, bikes, or your own two feet can reduce your carbon footprint.
- RRR – reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a motto that has been shouted at us since primary school, but it truly does work. Try reducing what you buy, reusing what you have, and recycling everything and everywhere you can. Check with the council to see what you can recycle.
- Vote. Use your voice – by holding politicians accountable, you can have a chance to change what happens on this planet before we lose it.
‘The next few years are probably the most important in our history,’ said Dr Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC. Help to make them count.