The Challenge is Climate Change.
Climate Change is caused by carbon emissions from human activity. That is a fact, over 99% of scientists agree with that.
Carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. We burn these to heat our homes, we burn them in power stations to generate electricity to power factories where ‘stuff’ is made and food is produced. We burn them in our cars and tractors and all other vehicles. Carbon is also released as methane from agriculture and when natural gas is extracted. Everything we do has a carbon footprint. Everything.
All this extra carbon in the atmosphere, which has been increasing at an unprecedented rate since the industrial revolution leads to global warming because more heat from the sun remains trapped inside the atmosphere. The earth is now 1.1°C warmer than it was in before the Industrial Revolution.
So, you see the big problem is not that climate change is going to happen, its that it already is happening.
But what do we see of that here in Devon? Not a lot, we’ve had a lovely warm summer and been able to enjoy our beautiful countryside and beaches – climate change seems pretty good hey?!
No. The effects of climate change are devastating…
And these are the things that are already happening at 1.1°C. What will happen, where are we headed?
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report that said we need to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C, if we go higher then the chance of irreversible and runaway climate change is more likely, things like the melting of permafrost which then releases more carbon. And they worked out a carbon budget – how much more carbon could the world afford to emit before we got to 1.5C.
Great, so we have something to aim for, and the UK Gov declares a Climate Emergency, it’s all going to be fine… Not quite yet, our current UK policies have us on a path for 3°C of warming.
Pretty bad, even worse is that 3°C worldwide will be felt as 6°C in southern Africa.
Clearly, not enough is being done. We have known about climate change for over 30 years, but worldwide carbon emissions are still increasing.
But, don't despair! Humans have taken on huge challenges before and we can do it again.
"We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change.” Greta Thunberg, October 2018.