Without a doubt climate change is now a world-wide problem. The effects can be seen everywhere. The ice caps are melting in both the Arctic and Antarctic. In turn this is leading to ever rising sea levels.
The frequency and strength of storms all around the world are now increasing, leaving destruction in their wake.
The rainfall patterns are also shifting, which is causing devastating droughts and floods everywhere.
As our climate continues to break down, billions of people across the world are struggling to cope, with the poorest populations being the hardest hit.
Recently we have witnessed forest fires in Australia, Russia and Europe which have covered cities in thick polluting smoke. Closer to home, catastrophic floods have turned lives upside-down in Yorkshire, Somerset, Cumbria and now in Wales.
As the oceans get warmer the water is becoming more acidic. Consequently this is causing the mass destruction of the coral reefs together with the loss of breeding grounds for millions of sea creatures.
Delicate ecosystems, which are home to insects, plants and animals, are struggling to adapt to the changing climate. This has put over one million species at risk of extinction.
Ultimately that means our food security, health and quality of life are all under threat.
We Must Ask The Question – WHO?
According to the Carbon Majors Report report of 2017 just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.
The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities.
According to the report the scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change.
Major oil and gas companies including BP, Exxon and Shell have ALL spent hundreds of millions of pounds trying to delay and/or stop government policies that would help reduce carbon emissions (targets which were set by international agreement back in 2015) and help to tackle the climate crisis.
Despite the indisputable effects of climate change, which are becoming more and more obvious, these big polluting corporations – the ones responsible for the majority of carbon emissions – continue to carry on drilling for fossil fuels.
Other industries including the major banks, car manufacturers and energy companies are also making huge profits from fossil fuels. These industries are knowingly putting money over the future of our planet and the safety of our people.
Govs Must Be Held To Account
As scientists step up their warnings that the world has to take action in order to prevent a human-made global disaster it seems that courts in America, France, Germany and other European Union countries are now posing a growing challenge to governments and business interests with regard to climate change.
In the USA 21 young people from Our Children’s Trust, an NGO based in Eugene, Oregon, filed a lawsuit against the government claiming that the plaintiffs have a fundamental right to live in a world with a stable climate system.
Their claim rested on the long-established legal principle (called the public trust doctrine) which maintains that certain common natural resources – including navigable waters and coastal shorelines – should be held in public trust for the benefit of present and future generations.
A court in Germany temporarily blocked one of Europe’s powerful energy companies, RWE, from continuing to clear away one of Germany’s oldest forests [Hambach Forest] to make space for a coal mine.
In 2018, an appeals court in the Netherlands ordered officials to cut greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly than so far envisioned, handing a victory to 900 citizens who had sued the government.
Last year a court in Paris heard a landmark case which accused the French government of taking inadequate action to combat climate change.
The case was part of a larger lawsuit which was launched three years ago.
Greenpeace France, one of the plaintiffs in the case, tweeted:
“Great day for #climate justice.”
What We Must Do
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and to feel that climate change is too big to solve.
However, we already have the answers, now it’s a question of making them happen. To work, all of these solutions needs strong international cooperation between governments and businesses, including the most polluting sectors.
Individuals can also play a part by making better choices about where they get their energy, how they travel, and what food they eat.
However, the best way for anyone to help stop climate change is for us all to take collective action.
This means pressuring governments and corporations to change their policies and business practices.
- Keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuels include coal, oil and gas – and the more that are extracted and burned, the worse climate change will get. All countries need to move their economies away from fossil fuels as soon as possible.
- Invest in renewable energy. Changing our main energy sources to clean and renewable energy is the best way to stop using fossil fuels. These include technologies like solar, wind, wave, tidal and geothermal power.
- Switch to sustainable transport. Petrol and diesel vehicles, planes and ships use fossil fuels. Reducing car use, switching to electric vehicles and minimising plane travel will not only help stop climate change, it will reduce air pollution too.
- Help us keep our homes cosy. Homes shouldn’t be draughty and cold – it’s a waste of money, and miserable in the winter. The government can help households heat our homes in a green way – such as by insulating walls and roofs and switching away from oil or gas boilers to heat pumps.
- Improve farming and encourage vegan diets. One of the best ways for individuals to help stop climate change is by reducing their meat and dairy consumption, or by going fully vegan. Businesses and food retailers can improve farming practices and provide more plant-based products to help people make the shift.
- Restore nature to absorb more carbon. The natural world is very good at cleaning up our emissions, but we need to look after it. Planting trees in the right places or giving land back to nature through ‘rewilding’ schemes is a good place to start. This is because photosynthesising plants draw down carbon dioxide as they grow, locking it away in soils.
- Protect forests like the Amazon. Forests are crucial in the fight against climate change, and protecting them is an important climate solution. Cutting down forests on an industrial scale destroys giant trees which could be sucking up huge amounts of carbon. Yet companies destroy forests to make way for animal farming, soya or palm oil plantations. Governments can stop them by making better laws.
- Protect the oceans. Oceans also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps to keep our climate stable. But many are overfished, used for oil and gas drilling or threatened by deep sea mining. Protecting oceans and the life in them is ultimately a way to protect ourselves from climate change.
- Reduce how much people consume. Our transport, fashion, food and other lifestyle choices all have different impacts on the climate. This is often by design – fashion and technology companies, for example, will release far more products than are realistically needed. But while reducing consumption of these products might be hard, it’s most certainly worth it. Reducing overall consumption in more wealthy countries can help put less strain on the planet.
- Reduce plastic. Plastic is made from oil, and the process of extracting, refining and turning oil into plastic (or even polyester, for clothing) is surprisingly carbon-intense. It doesn’t break down quickly in nature so a lot of plastic is burned, which contributes to emissions. Demand for plastic is rising so quickly that creating and disposing of plastics will account for 17% of the global carbon budget by 2050 (this is the emissions count we need to stay within according to the Paris agreement).
To do this it will take just 3.5% of the population to RISE UP in peaceful protest.
We should be aware that Governments and politicians want to be re-elected and that businesses can’t survive without customers. Therefore demanding action from them is a powerful way to make change happen.
If governments act swiftly on the promises they made in the Paris climate agreement, and implement the solutions now, then there’s still hope of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.
Rambling in Pen thanks you for reading and hopes you found this article informative. If so, please share with your friends and family.
We leave you now with a tune by Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen the Rain.
Author: Michael W