Over the past 12 months, the pandemic has dominated the news but another issue has been just as important and it’s an issue that we must not forget to keep fighting even during this tough time – Climate Change. April 22nd is Earth Day, the day aims to raise awareness and educate people worldwide about climate change and global warming. Many people are still unsure what climate change is, how it affects them and how they can help make a difference so here are five facts, five myths, and five ways you can help make a difference.
Fact 1, Deforestation
When forests are cleared or burnt they release carbon dioxide, deforestation is responsible for 12 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation impacts 1.6 billion rural people worldwide who rely on forests for their livelihoods. Every six seconds the world losses a piece of primary rainforest the size of a football field and more than half the world’s tropical forests have been destroyed since 1960. a leading cause of deforestation is commercial agriculture, this industry accounts for forty percent of all deforestation.
Fact 2, Fighting Climate Change will Improve Livelihoods
Resorting degraded forests could create 39 jobs per million dollars spent, which might not sound like many jobs but that’s a job-creation rate more than six times higher than the oil and gas industry. Every dollar that is currently invested in land restoration generates on average 10 times that amount in benefits. Creating jobs that help to restore the planet naturally will benefit people worldwide for this generation and generations to come.
Fact 3, 11 Percent
800 million people are currently vulnerable to climate change, which is 11 percent of the world’s population. Worldwide people have lost homes and livelihoods because of the direct impact of climate changes. Floods, heatwaves, droughts, and rising sea levels are all having devastating consequences on people’s lives.
Fact 4, Say Goodbye
Climate Change is making our planet warmer at a faster rate compared to the previous 10,000 years, this warming has left many animals unable to escape to cooler climates to avoid extinction. One-third of all animals and plant species could be extinct by 2070 because of the changes in the atmosphere caused by anthropogenic climate change. The latest research by scientists shows that humans are responsible for bringing about a sixth mass extinction event.
Fact 5, Why 1.5 Degrees
On December 12th, 2015 countries came together in Paris to address climate change and the Paris Agreement was born. The agreement, which was signed by 195 countries, aimed to reduce emissions of gases that contribute to global warming. The objective of the agreement was to limit greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would prevent global temperatures from increasing more than 2 degrees above the temperature benchmark set before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Since the signing of the agreement, scientists have discovered that the given the risks to our planet, and aim for 1.5 degrees limit is necessary.
Bonus Fact: If climate change is not tackled, parts of Plymouth could be underwater by 2050!
Myth 1, The Earth’s Climate Has Always Changed
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old and while in that time the climate has changed a lot, the highest temperatures ever recorded have taken place since 2001. Rises in temperature that would normally happen over hundreds of years are now happing over decades. These higher temperatures correspond with increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels have been increasing since the Industrial Revolution and now human activity such as burning coal, transport, and deforestation is producing even more. These human activities are why the current climate changes are referred to as man-made (anthropogenic).
Myth 2, It’s Still Cold So It Can’t Be Real
Whilst some places on planet Earth are still cold, global warming is causing our planet’s surface temperature to increase. This increase means that extreme weather such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts more likely and more severe. Here in the UK, we are seeing more wet weather and more wind…remember a time when we didn’t have a storm each month?
Myth 3, Renewable Energy – All A Money Making Scheme
In recent years a lot of energy suppliers have slowly started to offer their customers renewable energy. Whilst renewable energy in its infancy was more expensive, no one could have predicted how fast the price of renewables fell. Solar and onshore wind energy is actually cheaper to produce than energy from fossil fuels. This means it can be cheaper for you to fuel your home using cleaner energy, that’s a win for you and the planet.
Myth 4, All The Animals Will Just Adapt
Some of the animals will adapt, history has shown us that animals do move or adapt to suit their current environment. Some species are already showing signs of adapting to deal with the drastic changes in our climate. Unlike previous centuries, the transformations in our climate are now much quicker and many species just cannot adapt quickly enough to keep up with the changing environment.
Myth 5, It’s Not Our Fault, It’s All Because of China
China is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases but it is also currently one of the largest investors in renewable energies. China’s much-needed investment in green energy is in a bid to clean up air pollution in its major cities. The UK has a big fossil fuel spending habit, our government provides subsidies to the companies who provide this dirty fossil fuel energy, we actually spend £10.5 billion a year supporting this industry.
Step 1, Do You Have Dirty Feet
How much does your carbon footprint impact the planet? Visit footprint.wwf.org.uk and answer the simple questionnaire to see how you impact the earth daily. You will get a full breakdown so you can see which areas you can change and improve to help you cut down on nasty emissions. The site has tips to help you become greener and there’s even a free app so you can really challenge yourself.
Step 2, Green Up Your Home
Around 26% of our carbon emissions come from our home energy so what can you do to help.
Check your boiler, windows, and insulation and see if it’s up to date with the new green standards, if it’s not you may qualify for a government scheme to help you green your home. Check your energy supplier, many of the major energy suppliers now offer 100% renewable energy, which may even be at a cheaper rate than your current fossil fuel! Turn off those lights, phone chargers, TVs, and games consoles, even on standby these naughty appliances are still eating up energy. Get a smart meter installed so you can keep track of your energy spending habits, this one is not just great for the planet but your wallet as well.
Step 3, Food, Glorious Food
Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change but the good news is you can become a climate hero just by switching up your eating habits. Eating a diet that’s mainly plant-based will have a huge impact on your carbon footprint, in fact, for every day, you forgo meat and dairy you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds – that’s 2920 pounds a year! To avoid your food having its own plane ticket try and shop for locally grown produce, here in the southwest we are extremely lucky to have so many local veg box provides. Reduce your food waste by planning your meals ahead of time and always freezing your leftovers to reheat later.
Step 4, Wardrobe Dilemmas
Fast fashion is a leading cause of climate change with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculating that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions each year and using 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. Avoiding fast fashion brands that promote cheap, trendy clothes that go out of style quickly and instead by vintage or recycled clothes, websites such as Depop are a great way to help avoid clothes ending up in the tip. Top tip – unsubscribe from the mailing lists of fast fashion companies, these companies send weekly promotions to entice you to spend with them, no emails mean no temptations. Buy quality clothes from brands that have sourced their materials ethically, good brands will have a climate statement on their websites so you can read exactly where the company ethos lies.
Step 5, Getting From A to B
An average car produces five tons of CO2 each year which is not good for the planet. Car users can reduce their commuting CO2 emissions by carpooling where ever possible, ensuring your tyres are properly inflated, and removing any excess weight from the vehicle. The ‘Ride Your Bike to Work’ scheme is an excellent way to reduce vehicle numbers from our roads. Riding a bike is a clean way to get to your destination and the boost to your fitness levels is an added bonus. Flying is a quick way to stack up your carbon emissions, avoid domestic flights and instead opt for using our great rail networks which are a much greener way to travel around the UK. If you need to fly keep it green by going economy, due to passenger numbers business class is responsible for almost three times as many emissions as economy. Don’t forget to offset your flights, the money is used to help fund climate protection projects.
Written by Emma-Jane Corry