The world has finally reached a point where climate change is no longer a controversial topic.
We know climate change needs to be acted upon much quicker than ever before, and complete denial of global warming’s existence is rare.
That said, there is still confusion surrounding what climate change actually is, so we’re here to help separate the fiction from fact! Let’s dive in with five of the most climate change facts and common misconceptions…
When we talk about climate change today, we mean man-made or anthropogenic climate change. It’s true that over the last 4 billion years the climate has changed a lot, but what we are concerned with now is the effect that humans are having on the planet by burning coal, oil and gas to produce energy to fuel our homes and cars, and cutting down trees to produce the food we eat.
There have always been cycles of warming and cooling, but in the past these have taken thousands of years. Currently, we’re seeing the same changes happen over the space of just a few decades.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere correspond with the Earth’s temperature rising, so much so that 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have all taken place since 2001!
As the temperature rises, the sea ice also begins to melt and the sea level rises. The world’s oceans have actually risen by 27cm in the last 20 years.
Carbon dioxide itself isn’t actually bad, there’s just too much of it on Earth. Yes, plants and forests do need carbon dioxide to survive, and they do a great job of absorbing and storing vast quantities of it. However, we are producing more year on year since the Industrial Revolution, whilst destroying vast swathes of forest in order to produce food.
The result of this drastic change is that the carbon dioxide has nowhere to go, and traps the heat trying to leave the earth’s surface.
It is true that animals and plants are masters at adapting to changes in their environment, although in the past, they have been able to adapt over the course of hundreds or thousands of years. Now, they need to change quickly, which will be too much of a challenge for many species.
If they can’t adapt, then they must move, but their habitats are increasingly being destroyed in order to grow food, or build roads and houses, meaning the majority of animals have fewer places to go.
Polar bear populations, for instance, are predicted to decline by 30% in the next 30 years. This is because they need the sea ice to get to land in the autumn, and to feed their young in the spring, but it’s forming later and melting earlier each year. They can’t adapt to changes as dramatic as this in the space of a generation, and they have nowhere to move to…
This may come as a surprise, but generating electricity using renewable energy from solar panels and onshore wind farms is actually far cheaper than producing energy using fossil fuels or gas.
Yet the EU hands over £10 billion a year to the UK as a subsidy to support our use of fossil fuels. Why, when the alternative is cheaper and cleaner?
We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and leave the next generation to sort out the problem.
The problem is happening NOW.
Leading climate scientists have warned that we only have 12 years to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5C and avoid complete climate breakdown.
The climate change that is being caused by us, at this moment, is a huge environmental crisis and we must do all that we can to stop it, and try to heal the damage we have already caused.
Climate change is causing disease, migration, and poverty across our entire planet; The home that we depend upon, and that we must ensure our children’s children are able to depend upon too.