Is Climate Change Beyond The Point Of No Return?
By Anthony Church, Legends Report Writer
No doubt you may have heard about and experienced the moves by the retail industry to cut down on plastic bags, reusable cups and, more recently, cafe’s bringing in paper straws. You may have thought as I did, that at least this is a small but significant step of about 1% to reversing climate change. We need to change our behaviour and these little things when done by enough of us will make a difference…
However, you and I would be wrong- as the climate change situation is now so complex that the only way to stop the effects of it are drastic changes by industry and governments. At Lighthouse International we recognise the difference individuals can make when we take the right approach to improve ourselves and our attitudes to how we live. We are an essential part of the solution with people taking action to influence each other, our families, our communities and in turn business and government.
Professor Stephen Emmott, creator of the hard-hitting documentary Ten Billion, began a global research project into climate change ten years ago. Climate change isn’t just about coal, oil and gas, but also about our consumption rate of water and food which impacts the earth’s resources. The biggest problem, as he says...IS US!
There are over 7 billion of us on the planet right now and we have created and exacerbated the global problems which have led to this emergency. Only 50 years ago there were just 3 billion of us. We have grown as a result of mass food production and huge, unprecedented land use.
Industrial Resource Use
Furthermore, every product we buy uses up water or pollutes the atmosphere. For example, we may think buying an electric car is good for the environment but it's actually not when it costs so much water and energy to manufacture before it is sold to us, the consumer.
The rate of production means we all need to cut down on the amount we buy because technology is not going to be able to solve the problem in time. It means we do need controversial radical individual and collective action in order to solve this! If we are waiting for government, we will be waiting a long time and it may never happen...
Water, Food Shortages And Destruction of Species
As Professor Emmott explains, the shortage of food and water as our population grows to 10 billion means we will need drastically more food. This means more land is being bought and sold between governments and corporations because we will need an area of land for agriculture which is larger than the United States of America at the current rate. Over 40% of current land use is needed for food production alone - in particular our insatiable appetite for meat!
Therefore, the only way to provide this agricultural land is to continue deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and that means exacerbation of global warming! Currently, the Amazon rainforest loses a football pitch of forest every minute!!!
As we have less trees, we have less absorption of carbon dioxide but we also destroy the habitat of many species living there. Besides the species dependent on this habitat the high levels of carbon dioxide are polluting the sea.
Carbon dioxide dissolves in water to form carbonic acid so as the concentration of acid increases marine species will die.
Arctic Methane And Extreme Weather
Even more troubling is the melting of the ice sheets in the Arctic and Greenland, which have now been shown to cause rising sea levels. However, the ice also releases methane which is known to have a more powerful heating effect than carbon dioxide. This has wrongly led to exploitation by a deal between Russia and the US with Exxon Mobil to begin oil extraction there, now that the thick ice is gone.
As the temperature increases the extreme weather, including drought, is reducing our agricultural yield in spite of the increased land use. As described by The World Bank, emergency relief was needed to tackle the hurricanes in the Carribean in 2017.
As the situation gets worse, cattle will struggle to survive and this is already happening in African countries where people and agricultural animals are dying. Furthermore, other factors such as intensified agriculture, soil pollution and desertification are also leading to a poorer yield.
However, it is not just this warming effect leading to a shortage of freshwater, as 40% of all land is used for food; the pesticides, fertilisers and irrigation of the crops make up 70% of our water consumption right now! The water cycle in our climate cannot deal with the rates at which it is being used!
Our health as humans will also be put in jeopardy as more diseases will become common as conditions change.
What Can We Do About Climate Change?
So what does need to be and can be done?
Technologising our way out of it through renewable energy has been left too late as we need to by now have implemented a mass global construction programme. Similarly, desalination of seawater to make it suitable for consumption has also been left too late, and a sustainable disposal process of sea salt has not yet been identified.
This leaves our only option to consume less and ideally reduce the rate at which we reproduce which is a difficult thing to do without co-ordination by governments and most of the population. We should also recognise the lack of resources in Africa and whilst the global population grows, so does extreme poverty. It is predicted that at the current rate there will be 28 billion of us at the end of the century!
Overall, because so much about our life has a cyclic impact on the planet, the only way to slow the destruction of our planet will be to completely change our dependence on its resources and not take them for granted. If you avoid buying stuff you don’t need it can help a tiny amount which collectively could make a huge difference. If you eat less meat it will reduce water consumption massively, we need a fundamental shift in attitudes and behaviour. Now is the time for us all to act without a shadow of a doubt! At the end of the day, a lot of little actions can lead to a lot of change. A lot of a little is a lot!
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Check out the video below to the Ten Billion documentary which can be rented or bought at £1.49 or around £3 respectively: