Climate Change presents a major existential threat, and how we respond to it will determine what our future looks like. But before we get to that, let’s get our facts straight.
Climate change is a long-term change in global and regional climate patterns. What it isn’t is “global warming” or unusual weather events. Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, while weather is fluid and changes from day to day and year to year. Climate change is observed over a long period of time and includes the seasonal temperatures, rainfall averages, and wind patterns of a region. Its effects influence weather patterns, causing them to become less predictable.
And from shifting weather patterns that impact food production to rising sea levels that cause catastrophic flooding, we’re already experiencing some of those effects, which will only intensify if we continue with business as usual. Many of these effects are directly attributable to human activities like industrialization, deforestation, and unsustainable agriculture. And according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”
So what do we stand to lose? Clean air, safe drinking water, a nutritious food supply, and global stability to start. Inspired by these challenges, human ingenuity is getting its moment in the sun as scientists, engineers, and industry leaders come together to develop creative solutions!
Humanity is not the only population that will struggle to survive—currently, we are facing a global crisis in biodiversity loss. Tens of thousands of animals are becoming extinct each year, prompting scientists to wonder if we’re in the midst of a 6th mass extinction. According to a recent UN Report, around 1 million species “are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.” And according to the WWF Living Planet Index, on average, wildlife populations have declined by 60% over the last 40 years.
Obvious ways to combat extinction include protecting and conserving wildlife habitat by ending deforestation, eliminating plastic waste, and cutting down on pollution. One interesting solution considered by a panel of scientists last year was: better air conditioners. This may seem unconnected, but hear us out! Last year, the World Economic Forum revealed that air conditioners alone could use up 40% of our remaining global carbon budget by 2050. This is bad news for the “70 to 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs; up to half of plant and animal species in the world’s most naturally rich areas” that “could face extinction…with only a small amount of warming.” Fortunately, scientists have developed a water-based, eco-friendly air conditioner that is capable of cooling air to as low as 18 deg. C without using energy-intensive compressors and environmentally harmful chemical refrigerants like conventional units do. It also produces potable water as a byproduct of its processes. How cool is that?
Use your voice to advocate for sustainability and environmental justice, but not by trying to convince those who are not interested in changing their behaviors. Find opportunities to speak about why you’re passionate about nature or wildlife, join like-minded groups or coalitions who lean on power in numbers to affect change, and simply share your own positive actions with friends and family to spark curiosity in others.
Reforestation has consistently ranked as the #1 climate change solution—and with good reason! Trees help to stabilize our climate by absorbing and sequestering carbon via photosynthesis. In fact, one mature tree can sequester up to 22lbs of carbon in one year. They also filter and absorb air pollutants, release oxygen for us to breathe, modulate temperatures, provide wildlife habitat, and so much more. Clearly, they’re friends worth keeping in our corner. Plant a tree today!
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