'What can we do about climate change?'
- Credit: PA
How can we counter climate change? In his latest column Climate scientist Mark Taylor, from Sustead, talks about the biggest issue of our age.
How have human beings created climate change?
How can we really have so much of an effect on the world around us?
The answer to this is population.
The number of people in the world is close to 8 billion and increasing by around 250,000 every day, 1 million every four days and close to 100 million every
We all want food, we want homes, we want TVs and phones and computers, that's you and me.
This desire is increasing exponentially as countries and people get richer. The problem being, there is a limited supply of raw materials and we are starting to realise this.
The processes involved in making all of our ‘stuff’ causes pollution and greenhouse gases.
The sheer volume of production is causing our extinction. In the words of Mr Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations: "Enough of brutalizing biodiversity, killing ourselves with carbon,
treating nature like a toilet, burning, and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves”.
I must say that I was mildly impressed with the discussions at COP-26, over 200 nations attended.
The big polluters America, China, Russia and India have all committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, later than needed (2060/70) but they have made those commitments.
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With many of these countries experiencing the worst effects of climate change, their hands could be forced much sooner.
Over 100 countries have also signed up to stop the destruction of their rainforests and to start replanting, including Brazil where there is some of the worst rainforest destruction.
I was also impressed, dare I say it, with Boris Johnson, with his passion and what seems to be genuine concern for the future. Perhaps his wife, dad and having another child, have finally convinced him to take things a bit more seriously. However, we have been fooled before.
Bear in mind these are just commitments. Many commitments have been made in the past, including at the Paris Accord (2015), promising to limit global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees, currently we are on course for 2.7 degrees by the end of the century, this temperature is likely to have a devastating effect on humanity.
For ‘commitments’ to become reality there must be government legislation and policy put in place, forcing the massive global corporations to achieve net zero as well as helping us, the people, to do the same.
These corporations, of course, do not want to reduce their emissions because it means losing lots of money.
Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, is trying to tackle climate change with investment from government and the private sector to provide a ‘greener’ economy.
Whilst we are imprisoned by this way of thinking, there is a persistent refusal to accept that our system of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is really not working and in fact may be the instrument of our demise.
There is still a belief that this type of economy can somehow buffer us through the coming years.
There is talk of increasing output, increasing wealth, making sure that everyone gets richer and working with the best scientific and technological minds to come up with the answers.
On the one hand, the more people that work on these problems the quicker we find these solutions, however on the other hand, increasing output increases resource use...which intensifies the
problem of climate change.
Both Prince Charles and Joanna Lumley have mentioned a ‘wartime footing’. I agree with them.
We are ultimately at war with ourselves and our own greed. Greed has caused us to create excessive greenhouse gas emissions.
The easiest solution is to reduce the amount that we consume, if we do this then we can halt and even reverse climate change. We must do this to make the world safe for us, our children and future generations.
There are workable methods to help us do this;
● Carbon Tax - the more carbon a company, household or individual produces, the more
tax they pay.
● Carbon allowances - all businesses and individuals are given a sustainable amount of carbon credits that they can use each day/week/month on anything including food, energy, transport and consumer items.
● Rationing - possibly the most controversial and also the most effective, providing a sustainable lifestyle for everyone to achieve net zero.
At present we consume enough ‘stuff’ in the UK to use up resources for 2.4 earths every year.
This means in the UK alone we each need to enjoy around 140pc less to live sustainably.
We can certainly achieve this if we have the ‘will’ and a government that will lead in making these life saving decisions.
Why wouldn't we want a better future for our offspring, stronger communities, healthier minds and bodies and increased happiness all round?