Over the past few months, climate change has rocketed straight into the (gooey) centre of the media. But with all the stats and opinions out there it’s easy to forget why there’s all this fuss in the first place. What does climate change even mean?
In a nutshell, climate change simply means a change in the average global temperature, which as it stands now is 15C. Although throughout earth’s history this average has gone up and down, the rate of warming we’re seeing now is the fastest ever recorded. It’s being caused by us, burning fossil fuels and releasing loads of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. And a change of just a few degrees impacts pretty much every part of the natural world and human civilisation. But what these effects are, and what they really mean, often get left out of what we see in the news.
What difference will a few degrees make?
In short, a lot. You might have heard figures like 1.5C and 2C get thrown about, and it’s easy to get this mixed up with the temperatures we experience in our everyday lives. After all an increase of about 2C in the dead of winter isn’t likely to be a bad thing for many of us living in the UK! But the weather and climate, although related, are different things and a difference of 2C to average global temperatures could mean drastic changes to weather across the world. That means more extreme weather events like hurricanes, heatwaves, floods and droughts. It also means all that ice in the north and south poles could melt, causing sea levels to rise to the point of submerging many of the world’s major cities under water.
But it’s not all ‘ifs’ and ‘coulds’ at this point. Global temperatures have already increased by 1C above pre-industrial levels, so we’re already seeing many of the predictions scientists made a while back come true. For example, in the UK wildfires broke out in February this year whilst Europe experienced the hottest June ever recorded this summer as a sweltering heat wave swept across the continent. And it’s even worse for those living in the global south. The strongest storm on record hit Mozambique this year whilst India experienced more record breaking floods forcing many to leave their homes.
So what does that mean for tackling it?
The good news is that tackling climate change means (cocon-utterly) improving everyone’s lives for the better - in more ways than one. For example, when we reduce the amount of cars on the road in cities, air pollution levels go down and people can breathe cleaner air. Eating more plant based foods and reducing the amount of meat in your diet can benefit your health, while a wide scale reduction in animal farming can mean more land for planting trees and wildflower meadows. Better insulation in your home means less money spent on energy bills. Investing in renewables means more jobs and opportunities for workforces everywhere.
But enjoying the benefits of these changes means acting now and acting fast. Governments, businesses and people must come together to make drastic changes to our transport, food, energy and buildings. After all, only when we crack open the hard chocolatey topping can we enjoy the rich creamy delight within.
This blog post was written by our climate activist pals over at 10:10 Climate Action.
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