According to scientists, we need to take action right now. We have known about climate change, the rising of the sea levels and the extinction of species for years: but it really is the time to tackle the problem with our own hands. Does all of this sound too familiar?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report about the repercussions the rise of the global temperature has and will have on the planet, and it’s more concerning than ever. Today, Earth is one degree warmer than it was a century and a half ago; although this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it has been quite destructive already.
The IPCC report gathers information on the impact of global temperatures rising by 1.5°C and its goal is to limit the temperature rise to that figure. Current research has proven that we are on the way to reach 1.5°C in only 12 years: walking the path to warming the planet more than twice that amount by the end of the 21st century.
The aim is achievable, but it calls for drastic and large-scale changes from governments, big companies and individuals, and it won’t be cheap. According to the report, the annual average investments between 2016 and 2035 in the energy system should be of around $2.4 trillion. Experts like Dr. Stephen Cornelious, former UK IPCC negotiator, thinks this sum has to be compared to the benefits. He explained that cutting big emissions now is expensive, but it will be cheaper than having to remove carbon dioxide from the air later on.
The poles are already melting at one degree of warming and they are the smallest they have ever been. Flooding, famine, and droughts will still occur if we keep the temperature increase under the 1.5°C line, but it will be nothing compared to getting close to three degrees.
If we reach an increase of 2°C, the sea-level will rise 10cm, that doesn’t sound like too much, but limiting global warming to 1.5°C would keep 10 million people safer from the risks of flooding.
Coal must be left behind earlier than previously ever stated; acres and acres of land must be repurposed to plant forests and by 2050 half our energy must come from renewable sources. Even if we manage to achieve those goals, we will still need to plant millions of trees and use machines to soak up carbon dioxide after 2050.
These steps must be taken into consideration by governments and companies around the world as soon as possible, and then put into practice. The biggest chunk of responsibility does rely on them, but we as individuals must do as much as we can to make sure change happens. We have heard about turning lights and electronic devices off when not needed, taking public transport or biking to work, recycling and reducing our waste; but try to consider these as well:
Adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet: The meat industry is the source of most of the carbon dioxide emissions and the fish industry generates tons of plastic and destroys sea ecosystems. Even cutting only just one of these products from your diet will favour the environment greatly. For example, replacing meat with products like legumes and tofu is so much more sustainable, and cheaper. It’s good for the animals, the world and yourself.
Not wasting money on fast fashion: Millions of clothing items go to waste after they go out of style, they are usually not broken and are reusable. Thinking about if you really need to throw away that so-last-season-jacket - that is in a perfect state - will be much kinder to both your pocket and the planet.
Actively supporting politicians and groups that take a stand for the environment: As said, the main responsibility relies on governments and we need to make sure to appoint the correct people to represent our beliefs and concerns related to global warming. Joining organisations such as Greenpeace would also be ideal. However, we don’t all have the time or the opportunity to leave it all behind and run to the Arctic, which is why there are always smaller roles you could take on, or even just donate.
The IPCC report isn’t a precise prediction of the doomsday we might be bringing on ourselves, but a truly hopeful call for an awakening and the need of altering how we act towards the Earth. It is the planet we all call home, so we must take care of cleaning up our past mistakes before we reach the point of no return.