“1.5°C gives young people and the next generation a fighting chance”
James Hansen, former NASA scientist and climate change protester.
Experts who performed risk assessments based on the objectives stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement predict the chance of catastrophic climate change completely wiping out humanity by 2100 is one-in-20, that’s a 5% probability. It sounds like a small chance but look at it this way, the chance that you will die in a plane crash is reportedly one-in-eleven-million, that’s 0.000009090909%, and many people are still very afraid of that risk. Would you step on an aeroplane if there was a 5% chance that you would die? With these statistics it can be said that it is over five-hundred-thousand times more likely that humans will be extinct in 81 years than the likelihood that the average person will die in a plane crash.
This month saw school children protesting against climate change with banners reading “11 years left, what’s the plan?” referring to the 12 year time frame given by the world’s leading environmental scientists to limit climate change before it goes beyond the point of no return. The protesters may well directly experience any severe consequences of our actions in their lifetime, as a 12 year old child will be 93 by the year 2100. This is the first generation to almost certainly be effected by the crisis that has been predicted if nothing is done to stabilise climate change. The report pushes for the most ambitious scenario of the Paris Agreement and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who released the “12 years left” report, predict that if the earth’s temperature rises by more than 1.5°C the planet just won't be able to survive. The eradication of coral, severe pressure on Arctic ice caps, uninhabitable weather conditions, climate-related poverty, the loss of habitat, sea levels rising to extreme levels, and rising levels of ocean acidity and lower oxygen levels are some examples of the devastating consequences.
Since then a large group of 15,000 scientists from 184 countries backed a publication, originally released in 1992 and updated in 2017, stating that without drastic changes made to the way we live the earth will be damaged to the point of no return.
To meet the target of 1.5°C by 2030 carbon emissions would have to be cut by 45% and come down to zero by 2050. The IPCC has given solutions to directly and effectively reduce Co2 including urgent reforestation, electric only transport and the advancement of carbon capture technology. But while renewable energy is progressing at a good rate it is almost entirely counteracted by the deforestation increase for agriculture, and carbon capture and storage projects have been all but abandoned.
With the USA’s exit from the Paris Agreement, and fears that oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia will follow suit with this destructive mindset from ignorant world leaders, it seems as though politicians just aren’t getting it. Meanwhile in Europe the UK is moving forward with gas fracking, Norway has plans to search for oil in the Arctic and Hambach forest in Germany is under threat of being torn down in the search for coal. It may be expensive, it may be inconvenient, it may seem like a secondary issue but it is the most important and widespread crisis humans will ever face – our extinction.
I think about any children I may have and the impact they will have on climate change and how, sadly, another person will be putting strain on this earth just by living. I also worry about what state the planet will be in for both humans and nature by the time they are adults, I daren’t even think about what my grandchildren will have to deal with.
Things the experts suggest we can do that will really make a difference:
- eat less meat
- consider population growth
- curb your consumerism
- use renewable energy
Things we can push our government to do:
- raise awareness on the concequences of population increase
- promote renewable energy
- protect habitats
- restore ecosystems
- stop deforestation
- constrain the growth of invasive species
One way to do this is by supporting enviro-political charities who put pressure on governments to make changes to protect our planet, below are some inspirational organisations who are doing just that:
"We took the UK government to court on air pollution and won. Now we're holding governments to account across the EU."
"We work with local groups, experts, business leaders and politicians. And we push for change on causes that matter"
"The campaigns we’re currently focusing on in the UK relate to climate change and energy, protecting forests and defending oceans"