Climate change…. we hear that phrase all of the time. I’ve mentioned it lots of times like, here and here. But what actually is climate change, what does it mean, what do we do about it and why do some people not believe its a thing.
Let’s start with a simple definition of climate change:
Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures.
Over the earths rather long life time there have been eras where the world has had a tropical climate and there have been ice ages. Although currently the earths climate is moving faster than it ever has before. This has been shown through several different measures. Firstly there has been higher temperatures recorded than ever before. In fact 2016 was announced today that it was the hottest year on record. Secondly, there has been a rise in sea level of about 19 cm globally. Thirdly, global sea ice has reduced by about 4%.
So why is this happening well the people who doubt climate change science (cough cough trump) say this is a natural process that happens all the time. That is true to some extent, climates change all the time but it has never happened this fast before. This could be due to increased solar activity but the biggest reason is due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon dioxide is a big problem. It’s found naturally in the air but the levels of the stuff has been increasing. Look here is a scary graph to show you just how much.
This increase in carbon dioxide is causing an increase of the greenhouse effect. Simply put the greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere. We’d be buggered without it because it helps to keep the planet warm but now its warming the planet too much.
So what can be done about it. Quite simply to slow down this process we need to reduce carbon emissions. That’s difficult to do but not impossible. It’s also important that it’s a global effort to reduce these emissions.
I hope this has informed you as to what climate change is all about. If you have any questions drop me a comment or tweet me @thatbiologist!
This week has been a long one, a really long and fantastic week. I think mostly because I’ve crammed it full with lots of talks and meetings, not to mention working on my assignments. I couldn’t really take you through everything I’ve done this week because I’ve done so much so instead I’ll just talk about a particular highlight. On Tuesday I went to a debate at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The motion was whether or not our individual choices could influence climate change. It was in relation to the latest Living Planet report being released. The debate itself was very interesting, the panel speakers had very unique backgrounds making for an interesting discussion. There was a couple of different ideas I took away from the debate which will be coming to ThatBiologist soon. Although one overriding message was that although our individual choices do make a difference to climate change it can be terribly complicated to know what to do to help.That got me thinking, what would be a simple change people could make that would make a difference.
Cut to two days later and I was on an early morning commute to uni. Firstly I go past a particular branch of my favorite coffee shop, urm lets call them, Moonbucks. Now I go into this shop about 3 times a week (probably more but I don’t want to admit my addiction to Moonbucks). I now use a refillable plastic cup that gets me money off my drink but also saves me from throwing away their non-recyclable cups. When I’m on the tube I always see a fair few people with coffee in hand in those (let me stress again) NON-RECYCLABLE cups. Then once at university I saw a delivery truck unpacking thousands of plastic bottles just with water. I again carry around a water bottle (that I got for a pound from SMASDA) to refill during the day. This is two cases where a small change to an individuals lifestyle can make a big change to the environment.
Moonbucks and other coffee shops that give out these cups contribute a huge amount of waste every year. It was estimated in the UK alone that 2.5 billion coffee cups go to land fill a year. Now for the plastic water bottles, although these are recyclable it still takes a lot of energy to produce them. So I decided to then find out how many people do use refillable containers. So I put out a poll on my twitter and put up a status on my personal facebook. I do tend to live in a bit of an echo chamber filled with environmentalists however these were the results I got. Most people carried a refillable water bottle (YAY) but only a few carried a container for their hot drinks.
So where do we conclude with this, by making a simple change to your life you can help the environment. There were lots of other topics covered at this talk but I thought this one would be the most applicable to your lives. So perhaps think about picking up a reusable container for water and your hot drink of choice. The other thing you could do is if you do go out for coffee and you are drinking in house make sure you get a mug rather than a takeaway cup. It really does make a difference!
Thanks for reading this, sorry it was late! Busy busy busy! Have a great week everyone!