Global Warming: The Final Countdown
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
Global Warming; it’s a word that has been ticking along in the background for quite some time now. Governments have made and broken promises, politicians (particularly in America) are having a hard time in just accepting the concept. With the publishing of the latest report, a collaboration between ninety-one researchers and editors from forty countries, Global Warming is set to take its long over-due turn in the spotlight.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report on the impact of Global Warming on Sunday. Their report states that it is vital to detain the rise of temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. With the current systems in place, the report says we are completely off-track with a predicted rise of 3C.
Kaisa Kosonen, a representative from Greenpeace who observed the negotiations between the scientists and the officials behind the report, summarised the proceedings beautifully:
“Scientists might want to write in capital letters, ‘ACT NOW, IDIOTS,’ but they need to say that with facts and numbers. And they have.” (BBC)
Previously, researchers predicted that a two degree rise in temperature in this century would be manageable. This latest report shows that this is no longer the case. Although making it clear that keeping to the guard rail of 1.5C is possible, the report pushes for immediate large-scale changes from governments and individuals. Hoesung Lee, the chair of the IPCC says:
“This is one of the most important reports ever produced by the IPCC, and certainly one of the most needed. Climate change is already affecting people, livelihood and ecosystems all around the world. Every bit of warming matters.” (Huffington Post)
1.5C or 2C? That’s nothing, surely
It sounds like such a small change. Surely it won’t have that big of an impact? The report determines otherwise. Although we are talking about a seemingly negligible difference of 0.5C, the report goes into detail about the gravity this tiny temperature difference can have. From the rising in sea levels to the extinction of a variety of species, 0.5C suddenly seems a very big number. The report is by no means claiming that a rise in 1.5C will have no impact, on the contrary, the impact will be disastrous on our eco-system. But the scientists predict it will be manageable in comparison to the impact of a 2C rise.
It would be easy at this stage to point the finger of blame at governments who made promises in the Paris Agreement, and then promptly withdrew them. So far, the United States under President Trump has shredded every major policy to reduce its carbon footprint. Coming from the country that is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita, this is especially troubling. The report, however, points no fingers. Professor Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III says:
“What we have done is said what the countries of the world collectively need to do, we don’t go specifically, we never go into looking into individual countries. “We have sent a clear signal to the collectivity of countries. The U.S. is part of that.” (Huffington Post)
So what can we do?
When faced with news as challenging as this, it is easy to take the fabled ostrich approach. Equally easy to do, we could retort in a blasé manner that that it won’t affect us in our lifetime or that we, the individuals, can’t do anything. So why bother?
The large-scale ignoring plan has clearly gotten our planet nowhere. Well, arguably it has brought us closer to this cataclysmic climate change. Will it happen in our lifetime? Yes. The report projects that if we carry on the way we are, we will have reached a 2C rise by 2030. That’s just twelve years away folks. As for the ‘I’m just one person’ defense, we know from history that one person is all the world needs to get the ball truly rolling. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Gandhi… I could name many names, but change needs to start somewhere and although a heavy weight lies with our government, we as individuals, can embark on that change too.
The Fantastic Four
According to the report, there must be rapid and significant changes in four of our big global systems: energy, land use, cities and industry. These are the big goals, the ones that the world’s government will need to address, and fast, to have the positive impact required.
So back to us, the individuals. The advice is all very straight-forward and full of common sense. It may cause moans and groans and links to ‘hippy ideals’ but these are coming to you straight from a scientific report, so it’s time to hang up the bias and get on board to:
- Buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter
- Use more locally sourced, seasonal food
- Throw less food away; get resourceful with those leftovers!
- Drive electric cars
- Walk or cycle for short distances
- Take trains and buses instead of planes
- Use video conferencing instead of business travel
- Hang your washing out rather than using a tumble dryer
- Insulate your homes effectively so you can use your heating less
- Demand low-carbon in every consumer product
Not rocket science, really.
Dr Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC wants the report to empower individuals to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. She says:
“Lifestyle changes can make a big difference. That’s a very empowering message for the individual. This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work, and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that massive change, because everyone is going to have to be involved.” (BBC)
I’m going to invoke a cheesy, High School Musical lyric now in agreement; ‘we are all in this together’. Dr Roberts continues:
“You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use. We can choose the way we move in cities and if we don’t have access to public transport – make sure you are electing politicians who provide options around public transport.”
We, the individuals, carry more power than we might think. All we have to do is look at history, whether recent or long past, for the proof that the individual can lead the voice of the masses. We can’t deny it any longer, our habits, our country’s habits, our planet’s habits need to change. So what are you going to do about it?
Have you or your company made changes to your lifestyle or business in consideration of global warming? Tag us on social media, comment on this article or email sofy.growmarketinguk.gmail.com to let us know.
To read a summary of the key statements from the IPCC report, click here.