Each year global temperatures are exceeding the previous years records, with this year being no exception. Demonstrating in the simplest way how we all are drastically changing the Earth’s climate and how the consequential issues extend much farther than just leaving your air conditioning on overnight.
Theses issues, I have talked about in previous posts consist of rising sea levels, increased risk of wildfire and much more. Additionally, recent rising temperatures in the United States are a perfect example of how bad this issue is becoming and how drastic action is needed much sooner than expected.
When considering the issues surrounding climate change one can easily become overwhelmed and conclude that the solutions are out of reach and beyond their control. However, communities in the UK and US can be found which empower local communities and restore faith in the future. Aside from international movements such as FridaysForFuture, more local groups can be sourced if you know where to look.
If you live somewhere in the UK, websites like Climate Action can be a great source of finding a local group near you. Or if you would like to join a more national body, The Conservation Volunteers is a great way to get involved.
If you live in the US, organisations such as Bioneers or OceansGlobal may be more for you. There are obviously a lot more groups out there, you may want to refer to the this list. However, being from an unreliable source you may want to take this list of recommendations with an eye of scrutiny.
Unfortunately, local climate change groups was not easy to find for other countries based in places such as Asia or Africa. However, from a broader more international standpoint this website article was a great source for examining climate change in different areas of the world and also providing the names of the international bodies focused on climate change in those areas.
This landmark court case, which took place in the Netherlands, came to the conclusion that the oil company Shell had to cut their CO2 emissions in half by 2030.
The main reason why this is so phenomenal is due to the fact that this is the first instance of a company being legally mandated to the environmental policies of the Paris Agreement.
‘The environmental group brought the case to court in 2019, alongside six other bodies and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens’ – BBC News
Although this only applies in the Netherlands, there is hope that this will now encourage more countries to legally hold big oil and gas companies responsible for their harmful environmental practices.
When discussing ways to reduce the speed at which the climate is changing in order to stabilise the planet as a whole, many look to various methods and solutions with little to no success. Due to the complexity of climate change and the plethora of issues it presents us with, others have looked toward more broad and encompassing framework to help tackle this crucial time period that we are all apart of today.
Climate mitigationfocuses on reducing the output of greenhouse gases or increasing the potential to absorb these harmful gases from the atmosphere in order to reduce global warming. Although easy to explain, in practice this can be quite difficult. In order to achieve this approach, we need to internationally transition from using fossil fuels and focus more on renewable energy. We need to halt deforestation and start rewilding the planet, these solutions thus eliminate the source of harmful gases whilst increasing the rate at which the planet can absorb them.
Climate adaptation can be defined as adapting in different ways to a changing climate and preparing for future adaptation as the climate continues to change. Adaptive solutions often vary depending of geography, are difficult to predict and come with trade-offs. Examples of solutions include diversifying crops to withstand warmer or wetter conditions, helping communities reduce the risk of flooding and adapting infrastructure in order to withstand extreme weather.
Although these approaches offer solutions and goals to tackle the different aspects of a changing climate, they are far from equal with varying outcomes. This disparity is due to one reason: climate justice.
‘From a policymaker’s perspective, adaptation is a local, private good with often clear and immediate benefits. On the other, mitigation is a global, public good with far-away benefits‘ – http://www.climaterealityproject.org
In summary, both these approaches are necessary, however, as we have chosen to focus less on mitigation, the more adaptation we will need later. As a result, less wealthy countries will continue to fall behind as some already struggle to adapt to the climate change issues of today.
A recent article published by Nature has demonstrated that global agreements surrounding climate change can accelerate the rate at which we can mitigate environmental issues.
The best case scenario for global agreements would be ‘climate negotiations is a legally binding global agreement targeting < 2 °C warming by 2100 and incorporates sanctions’. However, due to various factors this may not be entirely possible, thus researchers suggest creating groups where nations or representatives are involved in a common goal with shared interests or geography. This can better enable global leaders to mitigate climate change issues whilst investing in local problems with other nations.
In recent news, researchers have been studying the idea of installing solar panels over the top of canal systems. In short, this can help reduce evaporation of water, help plant growth and be used as a space for renewable energy. An article published in the Nature journal also argued that the idea of installing solar panels over canal systems outweigh the ecological and financial alternatives of installing them elsewhere; concluding that this method produces 20%-50% more solar power than conventional methods.
Marine protected areas or no-take zones are areas designated by government where no extractive activity is allowed by law. Such activity includes hunting, fishing, logging, mining and drilling. These zones do not just apply to areas of water on certain oceans but also to bodies of water on land such as certain lakes or rivers. Unfortunately, these zones are often rare as sporting or commercial fishing often make up a large percentage of industry for coastal areas. No-take zones are often used to protect the spawning grounds for different marine life to prevent population extinction and conserve wildlife.
Due to current issues such as overfishing, the surreal amount of plastic in the ocean and decaying coral reefs; the importance of these protected areas are becoming more necessary as we progress through the 21st century. Therefore, it is integral that the benefits of these zones are understood so that we can increase their use and help protect marine life from further degradation.
One of the major benefits of marine protected areas is obviously the increase in population size for all marine life. With nature allowed to reinstate itself, a healthy ecosystem is allowed to reform for the most part. These pockets of sustainable life help repair an ocean which is currently being riddled with plastic and overfished.
Some may feel that this is a considerable loss for the fishing industry or unfair to isolated fishing villages with no other source of livelihood. However, this is not the case at all. In time, as the population sizes grow in these marine protected areas, spill over occurs where different populations of marine life start to migrate. Therefore, allowing the continued fishing of these different species in the non-protected areas whilst also allowing a sustainable area to thrive.
Currently, only 2.7% of the ocean globally is protected. Protected areas are sporadically increasing however, with areas such as the Great Barrier Reef to smaller areas consisting in and around the United Kingdom. An atlas overview of the different areas can be found here.
In summary, as information on climate change continues to spread, one thing that is certain is that we need to start living more cooperatively with nature because if we continue to progress destructively without thought for other life then this will ultimately be the very thing which stops our progression altogether.
There is a rising concern among parents and teachers with children experiencing what has been deemed Eco-anxiety. If you would like to learn more about this phenomenon, more detail can be found in a previous post.
In recent news, people are looking into ways to help alleviate this anxiety and create a more assured confidence in the next generation. National Geographic has provided a list of different solutions others may want to try if they know children experiencing this type of anxiety:
Community activities – This can help bring people together and share ideas or inspirations into the small changes than can do to help the planet and alleviate their own anxiety.
Being prepared – Assure them that nations put plans in place for natural disasters caused by climate change and other phenomenon.
Discuss what we can do – Reassure them that officials and scientists worldwide are tirelessly researching and discussing different solutions to the many complex problems climate change presents.
Learning and experience – Teaching children about the wonders of the natural world whilst taking them on days out in woodlands or national parks can help inspire and create a passion for learning about the environment whilst developing a strong attachment to nature.
The past decade has witnessed an increased use of drone technology within different environmental roles. From farmers to scientists, drones are now being used to reduce farming costs or help survey plant and animal populations in remote areas. Below is a short list consisting of the different tasks drones can be used to help the environment and scientific research.
Reducing the cost of farming
Drones can help with farming tasks such as planting, crop spraying, monitoring and irrigation. Increasing the success rates of planting crops whilst also decreasing planting costs. In terms of crop spraying, drones can reduce the amount amount of chemicals that work their way into ground water whilst completing the task up to five times faster than traditional machinery.
Renewable energy maintenance
Inspecting tall structures such as wind turbines are another way drones help reduce risk and increase efficiency. Drones are now used to help with maintenance surveys and collect data on solar panel installation as well.
Drones can also help map and collect data on areas which may be hard to reach for people on the ground. For example, environmental scientists are using drones to help survey mangroves, coral reefs and tropical rainforests. Making the task more efficient and also safer for the researchers involved.
Drone technology is also used to monitor wildlife movement, track population numbers and survey habitats. This method makes it a lot easier for ecologists to get a more accurate number of a certain species whilst reducing the risks of interfering with the animals themselves.
Finally, drones are also used to help prevent and assess natural disasters such as wildfires or typhoons. For example, In the Philippines during 2013 drones were used to assess the damage of a typhoon and help migrate people whilst finding the most ideal places for reconstruction.
NASA are working on a new satellite which will be used to track hazards as well as measure the rates at which land ice is melting. Their new project will help provide more accurate data and estimations for scientists and engineers to use to act upon this information.
This joint project between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation has revolutionary aspirations:
‘By tracking subtle changes in Earth’s surface, it will spot warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, help to monitor groundwater supplies, track the melt rate of ice sheets tied to sea level rise, and observe shifts in the distribution of vegetation around the world. Monitoring these kinds of changes in the planet’s surface over nearly the entire globe hasn’t been done before’ – http://www.climate.nasa.gov
This is hopefully going to be a big step forward into how we collect data from Earth and also the measures we can take to put large-scale action into motion.