Why climate change is the best investment of the 21st century

In 2014, many powerful leaders came together in New York to speak about the united climate action to tackle the growing global issues. Many voiced the opinion that it costs more to ignore the problem of climate change than to invest in solving the issues.

It was also in the year of 2014 that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an assessment on climate change science. The report stated that the longer we wait to reduce our emissions, the more expensive it will become. Outlining a key point that to tackle climate change head on and investing in the infrastructure early will help us gain an advantage on the problems which we are now experiencing. Additionally, the report states that to carry on with business as usual will only accelerate climate change and create damage costs beyond what we can accurately assess. This is also key as many today still ignore or deny climate change and their responsibility to it, which will be covered in more depth later.

Although, investment into climate change is essential, some have warned that investing in climate change issues is a complex matter with long-term investment not being so clear cut.

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It is now firmly established that climate change is a much needed and important investment for governments and NGOs to focus on in order to help minimise the damage costs of climate change. However, others have highlighted the importance of investing in adaptation measures as well.

A report released in 2019 by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) stated that adaptation measures such as early warning systems would help avoid suffering, economic loss and be economically beneficial. Some of the most crucial climate issues such as drought, rising sea levels and unpredictable weather can all be avoided by preparing with adaptable measures that the report touches on. These adaptive measures can help prevent suffering but also help invest money into the preventing issues before they become too expensive to fix. For example, the report states that rising sea levels may create hundreds of millions of climate refugees moving from coastal cities, creating a total cost to coastal urban areas around $1 trillion each year by 2050.

Additionally, the IPCC is currently preparing the sixth assessment report on climate change which incorporates the idea of adaptation to climate change as well. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that when it comes to climate change prevention is one-hundred percent better than cure.

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If business is to continue as usual then certain people will continue to profit from the destructive practices which have been normalised in today’s society. For example, in 2011 an incident occurred where Shell had been responsible for an oil spill near the coast of Nigeria. When asked for $5 billion in compensation, Shell refused to pay stating that there was no legal basis for such a fine to exist, thus avoiding the responsibility of the harms they had incidentally caused. It is well known that many companies try to avoid blame, as seen by the oil spills and other incidents globally. However, active climate change denial still has a strong voice and is one of the major barriers to creating concrete solutions against climate change.

The sophistication of climate denial by big business is one that has been compared to the misinformation campaigns led by the tobacco industry from the 1950s to the 1970s. For example, ExxonMobil in the United States being one of the biggest companies in the oil and gas industries, spent $16 million from 1998 to 2005 to produce uncertainty about climate change. This demonstrates the lengths big businesses will go to in order to keep profiteering from the harmful practices that continue to cause millions of people suffering each year. Not only are people losing their homes but many people’s health are at risk from toxic waste dumps as well as millions of acres of habitat and rainforest being lost for the sake of profit.

As we are at a crucial turning point in our planet’s health and our own, one of the most famous naturalists, David Attenborough, has recently stated that this is our last chance to stop wasting resources, time and money. Therefore, in order to rid ourselves of the destructive habits of today’s society, there is great need to actively inspire a healthier change that everyone needs to be apart of in order for it to work.

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News: Can hydrogen provide a solution to reducing carbon emissions?

One of the biggest issues surrounding climate change is the abundance of harmful gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, and its contribution toward increasing global temperatures. As of this year, approximately 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide has been emitted into the atmosphere and with the normalised practices of modern day this number is forever climbing. However, some people are hard at work in creating solutions to these complex problems such as the idea of using hydrogen gas as a replacement to fossil fuels.

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The use of hydrogen could be a promising solution as there is an abundance of hydrogen gas with very little chance of depletion. As we are starting to see the consequences of using modern day machines and the impacts on human and environmental health, hydrogen presents itself as a cleaner solution. Hydrogen when used goes through what is known as clean-burning, its by-products consisting of only water and heat which can both be recycled. Therefore, offering a much cleaner source of energy.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8773239/Worlds-commercially-available-hydrogen-plane-launches.html

On paper this seems like an obvious and needed transition, however this transition will require a lot of economic investment in order to build the infrastructure required to supply hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. Presently, we are seeing some early transition and investment as of September this year, ZeroAvia successfully made their first zero emission flight using a hydrogen powered plane. Additionally, other companies such as Airbus are looking toward hydrogen powered commercial flights to be readily available in the near future. This appears to be the first steps toward zero emission engines and possibly in twenty years a normalised practice of modern times, such as internal combustion engines are today.

Transport is not the only industry this transition has impacted, as others are looking into hydrogen possibly being used within the home. Supplying houses with hydrogen as been estimated to cut carbon emissions by 6 millions tons a year. These estimations have come from the UK’s largest gas distribution network and they have also stated that this transition can help the UK become carbon neutral by 2050.

The transition toward hydrogen powered transport and households seems to be a promising solution to reducing carbon emissions. As the consequences of increased carbon emissions and warmer temperatures continue to damage the environment, looking toward alternatives such as this may be a vital consideration with the little time that is left before irreversible damage is done.

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How climate change plays a key role in the frequency of virus infections

The current pandemic has claimed thousands of lives over the past six months and left many more with long-term injuries. However, the coronavirus is not unique, since the start of the 21st century there have been many other outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Ebola, SARS, swine flu and zika – although none have managed to spread quite like the coronavirus. The catalyst for such diseases can be explained by using China as an example, as their population nears 1.5 billion and the conditions of wet markets in their countries are a perfect place for diseases to spread. This is due to the poor conditions the animals are kept in, making it easy for diseases to spread from one another, as humans consume these animals it is more likely that these diseases will spread from animal to human. However, it is not only such conditions which increase the likelihood of infectious diseases but also climate change, more specifically global warming.

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/global/time-series/globe/land_ocean/ytd/12/1880-2019

As the above graph demonstrates, global temperatures continue to increase due to the high amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, among other reasons, which creates an catalyst for infectious diseases. Higher temperatures have been associated with increased rates of spreading disease through carriers such as insects. Insects which carry diseases, one example being mosquitos which spread malaria and zika, have longer breeding seasons and life cycles due to the higher temperatures which we are experiencing globally (Lynch et al. 2010). As temperatures continue to increase each year, the rate of infectious diseases will continue to increase due to these prolonged life cycles. This helps understand the correlation between global warming and the rate of diseases we have seen since the start of the 21st century.

Although this may seem alarming, scientists are hard at work in creating solutions to such problems. One such solution is the engineering of genetically modified male mosquitos which when breeding with females do not carry over diseases, therefore prohibiting the amount of infectious diseases which can be spread to humans.

The spread of infectious diseases due to climate change has also been found in other ways, such as the melting of permafrost. Permafrost is frozen land found in the Northern hemisphere typically trapping gases such as methane underneath it. As global temperatures continue to rise, scientists have discovered that these frozen landscapes are beginning to melt, thus releasing a lot of harmful gases as well as lethal diseases back into the environment. In 2016, scientists discovered that a young boy had died of anthrax which had been sourced from dead reindeers which had been frozen for more than 70 years, however due to the melting of permafrost this exposed land released this disease back into the environment.

Credit: Ben Curtis/AP – Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2020/jan/24/billions-of-locusts-swarm-through-kenya-in-pictures

Additionally, climate change and its association with unpredictable weather patterns can create other problems involving insects and population imbalance. Since 2019, many parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East have been experiencing large quantities of locust which are surpassing into the billions and devouring the crops the people there rely on. This demonstrates the unpredictable consequences of climate change and the lack of preparation governments and nations have in terms of dealing with these problems.

As infections diseases, population outbursts and many other problems continue to surface due to the radical change in the planet’s climate, solutions and international cooperation to these problems continue to appear somewhat vacant. Spreading awareness of these issues are most important in helping to bring attention to these catastrophes which are without solutions. As time is somewhat running out in terms of irreversible damage, this seems to truly be a situation where everyone is responsible but also a time where everyone needs to get involved to help combat these destructive issues.

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News: Study shows by 2030, 53 metric tons of waste could be polluting the environment each year

Since the invention of plastic it has revolutionised the way society operates. The many uses of plastic has grown to an enormous rate. However, one of the major drawbacks to plastic, which we have realised too late, is the large amount of damage it causes to our environment. For example, plastic is not only being dumped into waterways but most of the Indonesian food chain has been found to be poisoned by Western plastics being exported to the East (Ray et al. 2019). This is concerning as plastic waste is now everywhere we look, one critical hotbed for plastic waste being the Pacific ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, spanning from Japan to North West America it demonstrates the harm thoughtless consumerism has had on the planet.

This highlights the tipping point that we are currently at with the environment and how our expendable view of the planet can lead to a possibly catastrophic future if we do not begin to repair our mistakes. A recent study as shown that current rate of plastic waste production exceeds the efforts taken to reduce it, meaning that even if reduction goals are met plastic waste will continue to be a burden. Researchers have estimated that by 2030 the plastic waste in the environment may increase six times the current rate. As of this year, the plastic waste produced is currently at 1.5 billion tons.

This is an extreme problem as what is somewhat overlooked is the way plastic waste can be damaging. For example, plastic takes a considerable amount of time to degrade and can break down into what is known as microplastics. These microplastics can find their way into aquatic life through consumption, as we eat many different species of fish ultimately this microplastic will find its way into humans and the consequences of this are yet to be fully discovered. Therefore, plastic waste is somewhat poisoning the environment and the health of aquatic and human life. However, there are ways to reduce the use of plastic as demonstrated in my previous posts.

The study mentioned above and the consequences of plastic waste highlight an urgency in halting the use of plastic and a serious need in finding alternative methods. Like many other damaging practices, such as the output of CO2 emissions, if we do not transition to healthier practices for both the planet and human life then in ten years time we will see the negative consequences of our destructive habits. This is made even more apparent by the climate clocks which are starting to appear in developed nations, with Berlin and very recently New York estimating that we have seven years until we see the damaging consequences of our actions. Thus, the time to change is needed now more than ever as recent news has shown that the climate goals of the Paris agreement in 2015 are not being met.

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Contribution is key

Inspired by a recent YouTube video, which I shall link below, I went on a cycling trip to try and help clean up my community.

I decided to load my bike with black rubbish bags and head off to see what I could find.

Living in a city, seeing litter has become somewhat normalised to a degree. As I started to look for it I began to realise it was everywhere. I travelled down a lane which leads to an old WW2 airfield. However, I didn’t make it 10 metres before my bags were full, I wasn’t even able to fit one of them back into the bag on the bike.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of rubbish I would encounter. I spent approximately 40 minutes picking up all the little bits of rubbish. To just clear this lane would have taken days.

I proceeded to take the rubbish to some bins not too far from the lane. Altogether this only took around an hour and is a tiny step in the right direction. So next time you take a trip, it might be a good idea to pack a black rubbish bag and combined these small acts can eventually have a big impact.

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News: California wildfires

In the past decade frequent wildfires have damaged lives and wildlife in various countries. In part wildfires are natural, however with the increasing temperatures we are experiencing around the world demonstrate that the intensity of these wildfires are a result of climate change. Last year the wildfires in Australia are a clear example with approximately 5.9 million hectares of land being burned, an area almost three times the size of Wales (White & Gilbert, 2020). Currently, we are experiencing a similar catastrophe on the West coast of the United States.

The wildfires in California have spread all along the West coast across Oregon and Washington. Many people have died as a result, as well as many acres of wildlife being scorched and habitats lost. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes and as the fires continue to spread, people are announcing that this is a climate emergency.


The West coast of the United States is currently dealing with around one-hundred wildfires. Specifically, California is currently experiencing some of the largest wildfires to date whilst simultaneously experiencing its worst drought. The signs which show that this is a result of climate change are clearly visible. As California experiences its worst droughts and hottest temperatures, neighbouring states such as Colorado are experiencing snowy weather and strong winds. One consequence of extreme climate change is unpredictable weather patterns, therefore the situation in the United States demonstrates this clearly. Additionally, strong winds exacerbate the wildfire situation, increasing the probability that it will continue to spread.


However obvious the science may seem, continued denial that climate change is ruining lives and the environment still exists. For example, when President Trump was interviewed about these catastrophic wildfires all along the West Coast, he stated that science didn’t have the answers and that it will get cooler soon. This demonstrates an obvious lack of understanding from the president as decades of scientific research show a clear causation between the increasing temperatures around the world and the frequent wildfires as a result (Young et al. 2018).

Young et al. 2018

Sources:

https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/2019-australian-wildfires/
⦁ White, J. Gilbert, D. (2020) Accessed online: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/02/australian-bushfires-numbers-highlight-sheer-scale-unfolding/
https://heavy.com/news/2020/08/california-fire-map-near-me-august-18-evacuations/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54130785?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cjyq4rd3x3zt/california-wildfires&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-54097598?intlink_from_url=&link_location=live-reporting-story
https://www.newsweek.com/trump-dismisses-climate-change-wildfires-blaze-along-west-coast-1531828
⦁ Young, M. Gillett, N. Zwiers, F. Cannon, A. Anslow, F. (2018) ‘Attribution of the Influence of Human-Induced Climate Change on an Extreme Fire Season’. Earth’s Future, 7, pp. 2-10.

Community involvement – Grassroot Communities

Helping to improve the environment and improve upon the current climate crisis can often be felt as a daunting task. However, sometimes the small acts of kindness and commitment taken by others can be enough to make a large change in the right direction.

Locally, there are many different organisations and events which aim to aid the environment in some way. In my case, I recently got in contact with an old friend Ben Carpenter, who has started a non-profit organisation called Grassroot Communities. This is an organisation tailored toward the youth in Bristol, England. Its main goal centres around providing a platform for young people to grow their confidence, social skills and learn more about the importance of nature.

Grassroot Communities helps young people from different areas of Bristol by allowing them to break down barriers and bond with one another to form healthy relationships which inspire confidence. Additionally, teaching the youth valuable skills such as cooking, leading activities and growing their own food. Organisations such as these are important as they raise awareness of environmental issues whilst encouraging young people to get more involved. Finally, with the drawbacks of social media and globalisation making communities more isolated, organisations like Grassroot help to provide a community for people to express themselves and connect with the people around them to build long-term relationships.

Organisations such as Grassroot Communities are likely to be found in most of the UK’s major cities such as Bristol, so if you would like to make a difference do not be afraid to reach out to the people near you. However, if you find there is not an organisation anywhere like this near you, it may be a good idea to create your own organisation and make a difference in your community today. So please feel free to contact myself or Grassroot Communities on Facebook for more information and guidance on the following topic.

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10 alternatives to everyday plastic

One of the most environmentally friendly ways to reduce the use of plastic is through biodegradable or compostable products. The distinguishing factor being that biodegradability consists of natural materials breaking down, whereas compostable items are a form of biodegradability that transforms organic waste which is more beneficial for the environment. In an effort to spread awareness, here are ten items that can help you avoid the use of plastic. (Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of these companies to endorse these products).

  1. Sandals made from algae

Scientists in California have manipulated natural organisms such as algae to create environmentally friendly footwear. Items such as sandals often wash up on coastlines and are mostly made of plastic and rubber which can damage the environment. This new alternative is one small step to helping the planet.

2. Banana leaf packaging

Supermarkets in Asia have started using banana leaves for packaging. This helps reduce plastic packaging and minimise the chances of plastic waste.

3. Plastic made from cactus

Mexican researcher, Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, has figured out a way to create plastic made from material extracted from cactus. Serving to be much more biodegradable than everyday plastic, it can degrade in just one month and only takes several days in water. Therefore, some useful items can retain the same durability as plastic without the negative consequences of damaging the environment.

4. Paper straws

Some businesses already use these and they are a great way to prevent using plastic by switching to a more biodegradable alternative.

5. Sea sponge

A shower sponge made from natural materials, making it biodegradable and environmentally friendly. A great alternative than sponges which use synthetic fibres and create more waste which damages the environment.

6. Ayate washcloth

A multi-purpose washcloth made from the agave plant which are easy drying. Another great alternative to washcloths made from synthetic fibres.

7. Compostable food packaging and cutlery

As people are slowly realising the harmful products which most people use everyday, a transition is emerging where more and more items are becoming biodegradable or compostable. Online you will find many items such as food packaging, cutlery and cups which are compostable and thus a healthy alternative to regular plastic items.

8. Compostable clear gloves

Clear gloves useful for many messy situations such as cooking or for those working in health care. Again, a healthy alternative to plastic gloves which are frequently used but damage the environment.

9. Biodegradable tampons

Specifically for the women (or men that want to buy their significant other a slightly weird gift) biodegradable tampons can be purchased online to help reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.

10. Bamboo products

Products made from bamboo such as sunglasses, toothbrushes and clothes can be found either online or in the shopping mall. This is a great way to avoid synthetic plastics and harmful waste by switching to a more environmentally friendly solution.

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News: Plant based diet could remove 16 years of carbon emissions by 2050

As mentioned previously in my earlier post, eating less meat can help to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere in various ways. Analysts have found that meat production and distribution uses a considerable amount of water and contributes to the harmful gases currently in our atmoshpere.


A recent study has been released demonstrating that switching to a more vegetarian diet may help reverse the amounts of CO2 present in the atmosphere. Claiming that a diet consisting predominantly of vegetables and other foods rather than meat will result in a healthier outcome for both you and the planet. Researchers have found that by making this dietary transition could remove sixteen years of harmful emissions by 2050. They claim that unlike large-scale technological solutions, this method is quicker and more efficient at extracting CO2 from the atmosphere.


Additionally, the researchers involved in the study demonstrate the areas of land-use that have been minimised due to meat production:

This highlights an alarming reality where a normalised diet of meat consumption has resulted in the degradation of the planet’s environment. As this is a norm for most of modern society to consume meat and however hard it may be for some people to resist advertisement, such as promoting fast food, there are clear indicators that switching to a more vegetarian diet can aid the planet toward a healthy recovery.


In summary, the profitable but harmful practices of modern day capitalism demonstrate an urgency in people to become more self-aware. This awareness, practiced by simply eating less meat and more, undertaken by the majority can be seen to have tremendous outcomes in repairing our damaged planet. Therefore, the urgency needed for people to act has now become more apparent than ever before.

Sources:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-00603-4
https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/foods-and-beverages/environmental-effects-of-meat-production/story

10 ways to minimise climate change on a personal level

Many people today know that the climate changing so drastically is a bad thing but many still do not know why. As scientific research has shown, global warming is causing sea levels to rise, as a result increasing the chances of flooding. Another result of climate change is the unpredictable weather patterns which causes storms to occur more frequent or long droughts which result in a loss of crops for communities that solely rely on those crops. These problems may seem beyond capable to solve for one individual but there are little changes people can make which collective make a big difference.

Factory Farming Is Sweeping the U.K. | Civil Eats

1. Eat less meat: Reports have found that the facilitation of livestock accounts for around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, this is mainly due to the amount of transportation required. Furthermore, the amount of space it requires to keep livestock has reached an immense scale and continues to rise. For example, many ranchers in Southern America often turn to violence when in competition with indigenous communities for the use of land their livestock require. Therefore, by reducing the consumption of meat, this can help by reducing emissions and alternatively prohibit these animals from living quite depressing lives for the most part.

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2. Cycle or use public transport: In 2017 transport was responsible for 21% of all greenhouse gases in Europe alone. Today with everyone deciding to own a personal vehicle it is difficult to want to change your lifestyle and be seen as abnormal. However, deciding to use public transport or cycle is more cost effective and can actually help keep you more active. On top of this, by choosing to share transport or cycle you are actively preventing more environmental harm.

3. Buy less plastic items: Trying to purchase less plastic is understandably quite difficult due to the modern everyday use of plastic everywhere, however there are some alternative s which one can practice such as: buying products made from more biodegradable material, buying products which can be compostable or buying items like fruit and veg from a local market to avoid plastic packaging.

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4. Volunteer at a local forestry or nature reserve: Maintaining the few naturally bio-diverse environments in your country can help to repair the damage to the environment. This is done by preserving a natural habitat for various species of life and various species of trees which may be critically endangered. Upon helping to combat the levels of Co2 in the atmosphere, it can also help maintain a natural balance against the constant growth of modern life.

5. Donate to a charity or volunteer to help spread awareness: Donating to a charity which is involved in a big project, perhaps overseas, is a great way to help in ways that you may not be able to. Also, volunteering the raise awareness will help gather more of a support network to tackle the problems which some may not realise are an issue.

6. Use renewable energy: Using renewable energy such as solar panels is a great way to save money on electricity in the long run and also help minimise your carbon footprint. Another way you can do this is buying a hybrid or electric car. Understandably due to the recent production of electric cars they are still quite expensive. However, hybrid cars can be a cheaper alternative and tend not to rely on its petrol alternative as much as one might believe.

7. Using the internet in an environmentally friendly way: Most people today are connected to the internet in some way, for example Google get a round 3.5 billion searches per day on average. Using search engines like Ecosia, which plants a tree every time you search something and it only takes two clicks to install it as a chrome extension.

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8. Grow your own vegetables: Growing your own food is something relatively anyone can start to do and helps by relying less on global supermarkets which are transporting goods constantly. It also helps reduce the amount of plastic waste resulting from packaging.

9. Recycle more: Not only can you recycle more by opting to apply for different bins to separate your recycling but you can also recycle in creative ways as well. For instants, the internet is full of interesting ideas people have created out of plastic or tin cans, whether that be for artistic reasons or practical reasons which can be beneficially utilised.

10. Being conscious about population growth: Today there are more people on the planet than ever before, each of us contributing in some way whether big or small to the climate change problem. By ensuring women are properly provided with birth control and reproductive health options as well as providing education can help minimise any unfortunate situations. Whereas, limiting the amount of children allowed would be a somewhat crude and misguided solution to the growing population.

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