This week I decided to stray away from my typical sustainable living posts so that we can take a moment to reflect upon our changing world. Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report regarding their most recent climate change assessment. The report stated that the Earth will warm 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2030. So what does that mean? When the global temperature increases by 1.5 degrees Celsius, we will suffer from extreme droughts, wildfires, floods and food shortages. As of today, Earth’s temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The main point is: we have twelve years to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise, we will truly begin to experience the impacts of climate change.
What are three impacts of climate change?
When I was finishing up my Bachelor’s degree, I became curious to know how informed my peers were about climate change, so I would randomly sneak this question into our conversations. I was very surprised to discover that most of my peers couldn’t answer this question. I then began to ask my family members and friends this question and the results were the same. I was really surprised to discover how little people know about climate change since it is not just a scientific issue, it is also a human rights issue, an economic issue, a developmental issue and a health issue. Everyone should be aware of our changing planet so that we can better prepare for the future together. If you were not able to answer my question, don’t feel badly. My little experiment revealed that we need to do a better job at spreading environmental awareness.
So what are some impacts of climate change?
- Sea Level Rise
- Ocean Acidification
- More Frequent and Severe Weather (ex. prolonged droughts/stronger hurricanes)
- Food/Freshwater Scarcity
- Species Extinction
- Increased Disease Risk (ex. mosquitoes thrive in warm climate conditions)
- Structural Damage
What can you do?
I know that it might feel like climate change is an issue too complex for you to help solve, but you’re wrong. The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. The well-being of our planet does not solely rest in the hands of world leaders, scientists, large corporations and policymakers. We have the power to make a difference, too.
- Live a more sustainable life. Changing the way you live can be difficult, but if you have a goal that you want to reach or a new motive that you want to live by, your journey to green living will be enjoyable! (Especially if you convince your family and friends to join you!)
- Vote. We are lucky that we are given the opportunity to vote. Support candidates that care about our well-being by also caring about the environment and vote for measures that help to protect our planet.
- Go green at work. Whenever you work, think about how your company can become more eco-friendly. If you work at a restaurant, are the ingredients organic and/or locally sourced? How do you dispose of food waste? If you work at a retail store, how much waste is created from packaging? If you work in an office, can you switch to paperless practices?
- Get involved. Volunteer for environmental events, such as beach clean-ups or community garden work days. Participate in your city’s green programs and attend green events, such as climate marches and sustainability fairs. Be a part of the environmental movement!
As an environmental scientist, I am constantly learning about how our planet is suffering from anthropogenic activities. We are in the face of the seventh mass extinction due to habitat destruction. Coral reefs are dying due to warming oceanic temperatures. Wetlands, which are important buffers for coastal areas, are disappearing due to rapid sea level rise. It is easy to feel hopeless, but it is important to remember what we have achieved so far. Sustainable development/design, restoration, conservation and resource management are just a few ways that we have actively been working to help protect our environment. Strengthen our fight against climate change by spreading environmental awareness and sharing your sustainable lifestyle practices with others!