World, we have a lot of work to do before 2030

 Photo by WFAE.org

Photo by WFAE.org

World, we have a lot of work to do before 2030.

Earlier this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change broke the sobering news that unless we can limit global warming to +1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2030, the prognosis for our environment is not bright. To achieve this feat (cutting CO2 emissions by ~45%), drastic measures will have to be taken by consumers, industries and government bodies. Come 2030, the state of our quality of life, ecosystems and economy will be reliant on our level of commitment to the sustainability of our planet right now.

Now in 2018, we’re already feeling the effects of global warming with +1% global temperature increase. Around the world, hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent, earthquakes and volcanoes causing catastrophe, summers are becoming hotter and winters long and frigid. Besides the weather changes that we are feeling, more and more Arctic Sea ice is melting by the day, we’ve already seen a rise of +8 inches since the late 1800s. As many as 10 million people could be affected. This news while shocking is nothing new, but now as we see the first climate refugees moving to higher ground, we are forced to come to the realization that our own homes and beloved cities may one day meet the same fate; never mind the political and economic consequences associated with this level of crisis.

This doesn’t even take into account the effect that it will have on our oceans. If a rise of more than 1.5 degrees occurs, our world’s coral reefs will face almost certain extinction, killing off between 70% to 99% of coral as a result of bleaching. This is not only problematic for humans (approx. one billion rely on seafood), but for marine life as well since the Great Barrier Reef is visited by 25% of all marine species for feeding and spawning. Reef bleaching and increased ocean acidity caused by warming temperatures will not only make it more difficult for species’ migration patterns, but the overall survival of the food chain.

Currently, we are on course to see rises of up to 3-4 degrees by 2100.

The consequences that I have evaluated in this blog may seem daunting if not outright terrifying, but if we move quickly we can mitigate and maybe even avoid these risks. With that said, we are all going to have to do our part and try new innovative ways of lessening our environmental impact to achieve the large-scale change that it will take.

At this point, according to the report by the IPCC, this is an idea of what humanity will have to do (and improve) to meet the crucial +1.5 degree goal and to reduce the chances of negative impacts on the environment:

-adapt and restore marine ecosystems, coastal defense protections, develop irrigation, solidify social safety nets, create risk reduction plans, support green infrastructure and sustainable practices (water and resource management)

-lower energy and resource intensity, the rate of decarbonization, reduce methane, improve air quality

-improve overall energy efficiency and convert to renewable energy sources

-support sustainable development initiatives (SDGs, especially to mitigate the impact on the developing world)

The list can seem simple and perhaps even just common sense, but for these types of changes to occur on a nationwide and worldwide level: people, corporations and governments will have have to be on board and willing to implement new practices and behavioral changes. So, what can we do as individuals? It is hard not to feel helpless when coming to terms about the dire trajectory that our planet is currently on, but our need for positivity and drive towards finding solutions is more important than ever.

First, we can keep this situation relevant and provoke discussions in our homes, amongst our friends, in our classrooms, online and in the boardroom.

Second, we can write and raise our voices to our policy-makers, representatives and corporations to take this issue seriously and implement some of the suggestions in the aforementioned list to lessen the trend of rising temperatures that we are on.

Third, we can set an example by living sustainably and trying to lessen our individual carbon footprint and by increasing our efforts to give back to the environment through simple daily changes, which together can make a difference. ~