Let's talk about the hot topic: Climate Change. This has been in the news recently because the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released on Monday, a report expressing that urgency and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees C. The warning is that we have 12 years to slow global warming, in fact it needs to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. Beyond that even a half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
Let's review some facts to understand what really is going on. The world is currently 1 degree celsius warmer than preindustrial levels. Our planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.9 degrees Celsius, since the late 19th century, a change that has been driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of this warming has occurred in the last 35 years. Our oceans have absorbed a lot of that increased heat, dramatically changing the eco-systems in the oceans. Acidity in the oceans has increased by 30% which has had a horrible affect on coral reefs. Global sea levels rose about 8 inches in the last century. Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
For some, this is viewed as a normal occurrence that the earth is fixing itself. That citizens do not need anyone interfering in their lives or increasing taxes for programs. It's understandable, but we do hold the power to bring change and we can see the affects already happening on earth due to climate change. Since 2016 we have seen some of the highest temperatures ever recorded as well as some of the worst catastrophic events ever seen. We have seen some of the worst storms to hit Texas and Florida. We have seen California lost 100's of thousands of acres in this past year and last year due to wild fires. Fires that were extremely hard to put out due to severe drought and high temperatures. Africa has experienced some of the worst drought ever recorded. We can see that there has been some extreme catastrophes recently and that we all can agree on. What causes increased warming and climate change?
Transportation exhaust is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock and their by products account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is 51% of all world greenhouse gases. Then there is single use plastics. A plastic cup can take 50 - 80 years to decompose. An estimated 13 billion plastic bottles are disposed of each year. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year. Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy than burning it in an incinerator. Our forest and rain forests are being lost at an alarming rate as well. 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day. Which is around more than 150 acres lost every minute of each day, and 78 million acres gone every year! More than 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest we have already lost, and a lot more is severely threatened as the destruction continues. From dynamite fishing to global warming, we are destroying our world's reefs. The latest reports state that as much as 27% of monitored reef formations have been lost and as much as 32% are at risk of being lost within the next 32 years. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal go extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the “natural” or “background” rate. We can all agree that strange things are happening and happening fast. It doesn't matter who's to blame at this point but one thing we do know is that we all have the power to change it.
The purpose of this article is not to debate. The purpose of this article is to touch on a subject that has gotten a lot of attention and to understand some of the facts. I personally really enjoy surfing, hiking, camping and just being outdoors in general. I love nature and know that I'm not alone. It's a marvel seeing wildlife in its natural habitat and thriving. I believe we are meant to care for our planet. So what can we do to help? Here is a couple things we can do on our own accord:
- Green up our commute: Take public transportation, ride a bike, ride share. Use a sustainable vehicle hybrid or electric for long commutes.
- Use energy wisely: clean energy light bulbs, turn off lights, save water, use heating and cooling sparingly.
- Consume less waste: have a reusable cup with you, bring our own utensils and napkin, refill your own water bottle, say no to single-use disposable plastics.
- Invest in renewables: invest in companies who are bringing change. Buy better quality items that will last longer.
- Change your diet to a more sustainable diet: Eat meat free when you can (or all together), buy local, grow your own food, don't waste food, purchase produce in season.
- Support companies who are using sustainable materials and support ethical practices in their manufacturing.
We are in control and we can bring change. Some interesting documentaries we recommend watching are, Racing Extinction , True Cost Movie, Cowspiracy. One of our charity partners are the creators of Racing Extinction, Oceanic Preservation Society. They help bring awareness to the degradation of our oceans and ocean wildlife, as well as education. Also as a reminder check out our last article HERE, and join our #EcoWakenedChallenge for October. If you participate, you might win a voucher for our shop! We believe we are all stewards of our planet and we can make big changes.
Images by: Smithsonianmag.com, National Geographic