Earth Day, the Environment and Climate Change and the Last Chance

climate change

Earth is a struggling environment, this discovery is not a new one, but changes are not being made for the better. Climate change, pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation are all harmful. Earth has hit some eye-opening records that are not positive. April 22 is the 45th annual Earth Day and manmade climate change has had a severe impact on the world.

Carbon dioxide is at the highest level it has been in at least 800,000 years. The average, monthly Arctic sea ice was the lowest on satellite record in March. 2015 has started off as the warmest year in 136 years. The accumulation of carbon dioxide is due to the burning of fossil fuels and is causing global warming. A single carbon dioxide molecule has the ability to remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, therefore, today’s emissions will affect our future generations.

A global study was performed February 2015 that discovered 19.4 billion pounds of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean each year. As the population density increases, marine waste could reach 341.7 billion pounds by 2025.

Even though deforestation is decreasing, logging and other forest-clearing activities have affected 13 million hectares of land annually between 2000 and 2010. The net forest loss has been 5.2 million hectares per year. Forests take in carbon dioxide and hotspots of biodiversity. The earth needs more forests.

By the year 2030, there will be 40 percent less water. The international community must drastically improve water supply management for that to change. Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s water. Due to the ever-growing population, 60 percent more food must be produced until 2050.

There have been many severe weather events such as tsunamis, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and more. Climate change has negative effects on agricultural production. The starving majority live in parts of the world that have climate-related issues. However, if the climate change continues there will be a sharp increase of hunger, malnutrition and the breaking down of food systems.

Arctic sea ice coverage is at is minimum each September. September, 2014, the arctic ice was at its sixth lowest recorded minimum since 1978. The average per month of Arctic sea ice coverage was at its lowest on satellite record in March 2015.

Landmark talks in Paris has scientists asking world leaders to use an eight-point plan. The goal is to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, by eliminating carbon emissions by 2050. The December UN meeting, according to the Earth League, is the last chance to stop dangerous climate change.

There is scientific evidence that supports the capability of eliminating carbon emissions, if the world acts now. This has been determined through research by scientists from 17 different institutions.

There are eight calls to action:

  • Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius
  • Keeping future carbon dioxide emissions below 1,000 gigatonnes (billion tonnes)
  • Creating a zero-carbon society by 2050
  • Richer countries will have to help more poor countries
  • Technological research and innovation
  • A strategy to deal with the loss and damage from climate change globally
  • Keeping ecosystems safe that absorb carbon dioxide, such as forests and oceans
  • Climate finance for developing countries

Johan Rockstrom, chair of the Earth League, presented the scientific stance at the Paris talks. Rockstrom is from the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden. Six years ago, after the failure of Copenhagen, the world has been given a second chance to determine the right pathways for a future that will not undermine human well-being.

Rockstrom’s statements summarized what the scientists have decided needs to happen to avoid risk of severe climate damage such as a rise in sea level, heat waves, floods and droughts. There is a small window here to have a safe, somewhat stable future climate.

The Grantham Institute’s Professor, Sir Brian Hoskins, from London says that globally, carbon emissions have to peak at around 2020 and then fall dramatically to close to zero by 2050. Sir Hoskins is also part of Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College in London. Rich countries will have to be willing to financially help the less developed world for this endeavor to work. He said, “We share one planet, we share one atmosphere, we share one climate system.”

The expectation is that countries will agree with this plan and take action beyond the plan the scientists have compiled. Emma Pinchback, who is the head of climate and energy policy, says that the next UK Government will have to stress their leadership on this world-wide issue and execute a decarbonizing policy according to science. She continued on saying that on the subject of climate change, the government must take action to benefit all, and if not there will be much regret.

A Filipino environmentalist, internationally well-known, started a journey, April 22, to climate change hotspots all over the world. He has chosen this endeavor to impress the need for unification at a UN summit later this year. Naderev “Yeb” Sano, a former envoy to UN climate talks, came to the world’s attention in 2013. Sano fasted to draw attention to the threat of global warming. Now, he hopes his ‘People’s Pilgrimage’ will put pressure on governments to reach an agreement at the UN Conference on Climate Change in December.


By Jeanette Smith




Gulf News

Photo courtesy of Len Matthews – Flickr License