12 years isn’t a long time, but what humanity has managed to achieve in the past 12 years is good cause for hope and optimism. Here’s what you can do.
Scientists believe we only have 12 years to stop global warming, and we can do this — together!
UN climate change specialists say we have just 12 years to save the planet and ourselves. Now, 12 years isn’t a very long time at all, but what humanity has been able to achieve in the past 12 years when we all pull in the same direction is nothing short of phenomenal, and certainly good cause for hope and optimism.
What we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal
The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°Celcius, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
That doesn’t sound like a very long timeframe for such an ambitious undertaking, but if you consider some of the seemingly impossible things humanity has done in the last 12 years, it gives cause for hope that if we all do our part we can halt or even reverse this shared threat to our planet. Check out what we’re capable of when we put our minds to it:
- 2007: The UN’s Billion Tree Campaign achieved its target within a year,starting a movement that has plantedover 11 billion more in the years since.Talk about a ‘green belt’!
- 2008: Despite the financial crash,the fossil fuel-dependent United Statesmanaged to increase its use of wind power by over 45%!No hot air here…
- 2009: Humpback whales were taken off the endangered lista century after they were almost wiped out by whalers
- 2010: The world came together to rescue 33 Chilean minersafter 69 days stuck in a collapsed mine
- 2011: Surgeons carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant,opening the door to a future without organ donors!
- 2012: After a 560 million kilometre journey,the rover Curiosity landed on Mars.That’s a massive leap for mankind!2013:The UK launched the world’s biggest ever wind farmin the Thames estuary!
- 2014: 197 nations banned substances that damaged the ozone,allowing it to heal for the first time in 2014!
- 2015: The World Bank announced that global poverty was lower than ever,with fewer than 10% of people living in absolute poverty.
- 2016: After 100 years of decline,wild tiger numbers grew by almost a quarterthanks to conservation and education efforts
- 2017: Last year, countries around the world made a stand for the environment,with El Salvador became the first country to ban miningand Denmark cutting food waste by a quarter!
Humans really are capable of incredible things when we put our hearts and minds to it! SHARE if you’re making the next 12 years count!
Below: Feeling overwhelmed by climate change? Here’s what you can do.
Experts say the challenges are huge, but there is still time! Here’s what you can do
According to a recent report from the IPCC, the challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. However, the experts say that while the challenges we face are huge, there is still time to create a thriving, sustainable future.
The main focus is on the decisions facing governments around the world but the IPCC acknowledges the role individuals can play. Here are some of the things you can do as individuals and in your community.
Collective action: While individual choices and actions are important, experts say people need to unite if the scale of this challenge is to be met, making the political space for politicians and big businesses to make the necessary changes. Bill McKibben, a leading climate campaigner and founder of 350.org, argues that the most important thing people can do is come together to form movements – or join existing groups – that can “push for changes big enough to matter”, from city-wide renewable energy programmes to large-scale divestment from fossil fuels.
Eat less meat – particularly beef: According to a report earlier this year, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
Insulate homes: Relatively simple measures such as insulating lofts and draft-proofing doors and windows on a large scale would see a big drop in energy consumption. However, the UK government substantially cut the amount that energy companies are forced to spend on helping households with energy efficiency measures. All that money is now focused on helping fuel-poor households, with no incentive for better-off households to improve their energy efficiency.
Solar panels: Switch to renewable energy wherever possible. (In the UK, consider installing solar panels before April, when government incentives will end and the costs will increase for most people).
Transport: Walk or cycle where possible and if not – and it is available and affordable – use public transport. If you need to go by car, consider an electric one.
Reduce, recycle, reuse: Buy fewer things and consume less. Recycle wherever possible and – even better – reuse things. Demand a low carbon option in everything you consume, from clothes to food to energy.
Vote: Many experts – including the IPCC – say there is still a chance to create a sustainable, cleaner and more equal global system. Individuals can hold politicians to account by supporting political parties that put the environment at the heart of their economic and industrial policies.
However the IPCC is clear that the real challenge from its report is to politicians, political systems and corporations rather than individuals.
Jim Skea, a co-chair of the IPCC working group on mitigation told The Guardian the report had presented governments “with pretty hard choices”.
“We have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that,” Skea said. “We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tickbox is political will. We cannot answer that. Only our audience can – and that is the governments that receive it.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
Click for more on the work of the IPCC and to read the report in full.