How to respond positively to the IPCC report...
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate report hurt our hearts.
We couldn't help but feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the pace of the world's response to climate change.
Whilst we find it less motivating, we don't think 'bad news' should ever be swept under the rug. After all, knowledge is power when used as a force for good.
Who is the IPCC?
The IPCC is the climate science body of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organisation. They are the global experts that analyse the state of the climate and how human activities affect it. 234 scientists read 14000+ research papers to create the IPCC climate report. The process is vigorous, robust and transparent, producing the most comprehensive review of global scientific knowledge on climate change.
Summary of the IPCC report
The earth has warmed 1.09℃ since pre-industrial times. A small number with a significant impact. According to the report, 1.09 means that sea-level rise and glacier melt are now virtually irreversible, and the escape from human-caused climate change is no longer possible. Climate change now affects every continent, region and ocean on earth. (we know this is overwhelming but stay with us...)
There's an awesome summary of the report on Ted.com. We tried our best to shorten it below for you:
Humans are responsible: Despite the earth naturally changing, they estimate that 1.07℃ of the 1.09℃ increase is due to human-related activities. The global surface temperature has warmed faster since 1970 compared to any other 50-year period of the last 2000 years.
CO2 is rising faster than ever: Current global concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are higher and rising faster than any time of the past two million years. Other baddies, including methane and nitrous oxide (the second and third most prominent contributors to global warming after CO2), are not far behind. (Read more about the seven baddies heating our planet here). Roughly 85% of CO2 emissions are a result of burning fossil fuels. The remaining 15% is from land-use change such as deforestation and degradation.
Extreme weather is rising: The IPCC confirms that heatwaves and heavy rain have been becoming more intense and frequent since 1950. Scientists say that extreme summers (such as the one in Aus 2012 - 2013) would have been less likely without human impacts on the planet.
Oceans are getting hotter, higher and more acidic: Marine heatwaves that cause algal blooms, mass death of marine life, coral bleaching events are predicted to become four times more frequent by the end of this century. On top of this, sea levels are rising at a faster rate. From 1971-2006 they were 1.9mm per year, and from 2006-2018 they were 3.7mm per year. Yikes! The ocean is also acidifying faster due to the absorption of CO2.
We can still prevent the worst-case scenario:Despite many irreversible changes, we still have a shot! Scientists predict that temperatures could well exceed the 1.5-degree warming limit by early 2030. However, to get the earth back below 1.5, CO2 will need to be removed using nature-based and negative emissions technologies.
The good news...
Scientists express that taking action to significantly reduce emissions can still mitigate the worst impacts of climate change! So it's not time to lose hope, it's time to act.
Humans have caused this destruction, which also means we are capable of turning it around! Governments and businesses are the ones most capable of large scale changes, however, individuals still have an essential role in increasing the speed of action at higher levels.
Here are our five tips for making an impact at an individual level:
- Educate yourself and educate others. Knowledge is power, and even if you only get one person to make a change, you have already doubled your impact! Use your voice, talk about the positives you have experiences from living more sustainably. Whether it be chatting to your besties about it, sharing a post on social media (feel free to share ours at any time!), attending a protest or signing up to vote on election days, everything makes a difference!
- Reduce your footprint. Meat reduction, swapping to a renewable energy provider, sustainable superfund and bank, reducing food waste, learning how to recycle are all small, affordable and powerful ways to reduce your impact.
- Vote with your money and only support companies that do the right thing for people and the planet. Send an important message to the economy about the type of world you want to live in! If we stop supporting wasteful products, companies will have no choice but to stop making them!
- Mindful purchasing: Combine number 3 with the following questions before you purchase anything:
Do I really need it?
How will I dispose of it?
Can I buy it second hand?
This process will save soo much money, waste and precious resources.
It's overwhelming, and we're not going to sugarcoat that. But we are the generations that can reverse the damage to achieve a healthier planet for our children and their future families!
What to expect for COP26...
COP26 (Conference of Parties) is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for the first 12 days of November 2021 in Glasgow. The IPCC report puts necessary pressure on governments to prioritise and increase emission reduction targets and actions leading up to the COP26.