Young people, climate change is your future – Our Time Press

Editor’s Note: Young people, read this from the United Nations and Earth.com as a vision for your future.

When you are in your 50s and beyond, you will live in a very different world than we have now. A world of which we see only hints in deadly heat waves, droughts, fires, mass migrations and the like. This is just the beginning of what’s to come, and it can be tempered by personal habits and political action. And that’s on top of a pollution problem that has what appears to be an agreed projection that by 2050, 28 years from now, the mass of the oceans will be 50% fish and 50% plastic. The fish will eat the plastic and you will eat the fish. DMG

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to long-term variations in temperatures and weather patterns. These changes can be natural, such as by variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

Carbon dioxide and methane are examples of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. These come from using gasoline to drive a car or using coal to heat a building, for example. Clearing land and forests can also release carbon dioxide. Garbage dumps are a major source of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use planning are among the main emitters.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest level in 2 million years

And emissions continue to rise. As a result, the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. The past decade (2011-2020) has been the hottest on record.

Many people think that climate change primarily means warmer temperatures. But rising temperatures are only the beginning of the story. Because the Earth is a connected system, changes in one area can influence changes in all others.

The consequences of climate change now include, among others, intense droughts, water shortages, severe fires, sea level rise, floods, melting polar ice caps, catastrophic storms and reduced the biodiversity.

People experience climate change in different ways

Climate change can affect our health, our ability to produce food, our housing, our safety and our work. Some of us are already more vulnerable to climate impacts, such as people living in small island nations and other developing countries. Conditions such as sea level rise and saltwater intrusion have reached a point where entire communities have had to relocate, and prolonged droughts put people at risk of starvation. In the future, the number of “climate refugees” is expected to increase.

Every increase in global warming matters

In a series of UN reports, thousands of scientists and government reviewers have agreed that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C will help us avoid the worst climate impacts and maintain a climate livable. Yet, based on current national climate plans, global warming is projected to reach around 3.2°C by the end of the century.

The emissions that cause climate change come from all parts of the world and affect everyone, but some countries produce far more than others. The 100 least emitting countries generate 3% of total emissions. The 10 countries that emit the most emissions contribute 68%. Everyone needs to take climate action, but the people and countries that create more problems have a greater responsibility to act first.

We are facing a huge challenge but already know many solutions

Many solutions to climate change can provide economic benefits while improving our lives and protecting the environment. We also have global frameworks and agreements to guide progress, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Three main categories of action are: reducing emissions, adapting to climate impacts and financing the necessary adjustments.

Switching energy systems from fossil fuels to renewables like solar or wind will reduce the emissions that cause climate change. But we have to start now. As a growing coalition of countries commit to net zero emissions by 2050, around half of the emission cuts need to be in place by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C. Fossil fuel production is expected to decline by around 6% per year between 2020 and 2030.

Adapting to climate impacts protects people, homes, businesses, livelihoods, infrastructure and natural ecosystems. It covers current and likely future impacts. Adaptation will be needed everywhere, but must be prioritized now for the most vulnerable people with the fewest resources to cope with climate hazards. The rate of return can be high. Disaster early warning systems, for example, save lives and property, and can provide benefits up to 10 times the initial cost.

We can pay the bill now, or pay dearly in the future

Climate action requires significant financial investments from governments and businesses. But climate inaction costs much more. A critical step is for industrialized countries to fulfill their commitment to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries so they can adapt and move towards greener economies.

Ocean pollution threatens the health of the world

By Chrissy Sexton

Earth.com Team Writer

In the first comprehensive report of its kind, experts describe how the impacts of ocean pollution are directly harmful to human health, and plastic is only part of the problem. Researchers have found that toxic ocean pollution endangers the health and well-being of more than three billion people.

Dr. Philip Landrigan is director of Boston College’s Global Health Pollution Observatory. “Put simply, ocean pollution is a major global problem, it is increasing and directly affecting human health,” Dr Landrigan said.

“People have heard of plastic pollution in the oceans, but that’s only part of it. Research shows that the oceans are tainted by a complex stew of toxins, including mercury, pesticides, industrial chemicals, oil waste, agricultural runoff, and manufactured chemicals embedded in plastic.These toxic materials in the ocean enter people, primarily through eating contaminated seafood.

“We are all at risk, but those most seriously affected are people in coastal fishing communities, people in small island nations, indigenous peoples and people in the High Arctic. The very survival of these vulnerable populations depends on the health of the seas.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 584 scientific studies. Beyond food contamination, oil spills and chemical waste threaten marine microorganisms that provide much of the world’s oxygen supply. According to Prince Albert of Monaco, the analysis can be used to mobilize global will to tackle ocean pollution.

Learn more https://www.earth.com/news/ocean-pollution-threatens-the-health-of-more-than-three-billion-people/

Teresa H. Sadler