In recent years, and particularly in recent months, climate change has sparked many debates, protests, and discussions. Everyone seems to have a different outlook -- some say global warming is a fabrication, others claim it’s the harsh reality we created, but the most dangerous of it all, are the ones who are afraid of knowing and understanding the truth of it all.
The key to growth is acknowledging your fear of the unknown and jumping in anyway. -- Jen Sincero
So we want to start this by saying -- it’s okay to be afraid, just don’t run from fear! The idea that our home, our planet is in trouble is terrifying. Even more so when you think there’s nothing you can do. It’s so scary we can’t blame you for not wanting to believe or understand it -- but you need to. Not just for your sake, but for the sake of your children and grandchildren. You need to understand it because for now there is hope, there is still glorious hope that we can turn things around and protect that which cannot protect itself -- our planet.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. -- Marie Curie
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the global environmental crisis, what is causing it and what it means for the world, and for you.
Let’s start with WHAT is causing this.
If we’re looking for one specific culprit that instigated this series of events, it would be the industrial revolution. Something that was probably the most important developmental leap for humankind in history. It improved our lives significantly and paved the way for some of the biggest scientific advancements. The industrial revolution brought forth a change in manufacturing processes, new chemical manufacturing, new iron production processes, the increasing use of steam and water power, and ultimately a mechanized factory system. As it usually happens in times of positive progress, the industrial revolution also led to an unprecedented rate of population growth. Unfortunately, like all things in life, too much of a good thing eventually turns it into a bad one.
Everything we received from the industrial revolution -- from the way we process our food, to the way we create our clothing, the way we travel and even the constantly growing population on Earth, all emit a certain amount of energy and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), into our atmosphere. You might be thinking, hey, don’t trees and plants transform CO2 into oxygen? Yes, they most definitely do. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that other than the previously mentioned greenhouse gases produced by almost everything we enjoy in modern life, there is a rapidly increasing rate of deforestation.
So basically, we’re producing more harmful gases while cutting down the trees that turn these gases into oxygen.
When you look at the limitless blue sky above you, it can be hard to imagine that all the contamination stays with the planet, instead of floating off into space -- but that’s exactly what happens. The energy and gasses we emit through daily life have been sticking to our environment and heating it up, while at the same time, the oil drilling we’re doing is removing the heat from the inside of our planet and cooling the Earth core.
That might make understanding the whole 1.5C warming and 2C warming everyone is talking about a bit easier to grasp. They’re talking about the increase of global heat in the environment and how this heat will impact life on Earth -- considering the number used to be 0 before the industrial revolution, so this planet wasn’t exactly designed for such an increase of temperature.
How exactly does it impact the environment?
Maybe you’ve already noticed this on your own skin, but your well-being is directly connected to your environment and to this planet we call home. We can never achieve that perfect balance within if we’re out of balance with the world around us. While the impact of these high-tech and urban lifestyles we’re leading might be hard to imagine or notice, they’re still very real. You’re just not the ones that will feel the full extent of it, but your children and your grandchildren will. They might never have the same blue skies you had, or the fresh air you take for granted, or the abundance of fresh clean water most of us in the developed world get to enjoy. Unless we do something about it. We give them the future that they deserve, the future we promised them they would have. In order to make a difference and to help, the first step is understanding the scope of the issue, and you’re well on your way to getting the full picture.
Did you know one out of every 10 plants and animal species is expected to go extinct by 2050?
That is a frighteningly big number! One out of 10 plants and animal species you’re familiar with, will become the equivalent of dinosaurs to your grand(grand)children -- extinct. The endangered species list continues to grow asmore than 70 percent of the planet’s plant and animal species live in forests. By cutting down trees and destroying forests, not only are we increasing the carbon dioxide in our environment, we’re destroying the homes of countless species.
There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, but by 2050 this number will reach 9.7 billion.
By 2100 there will be 11.2 billion people on the planet. The exponential growth of the population is somewhat alarming, but the reason it’s becoming a critical issue isn’t just that the growth might be unsustainable, it’s the fact that as the population grows our resources -- food and water -- are decreasing. The more people there are, the more human-made pollution we create in the environment. In this overcrowded future, access to clean water and food will become the ultimate luxury that not many can afford. Along with the extreme weather conditions, that the human body wasn’t really envisioned to endure and many might not survive, the future doesn’t look as bright for future generations as it did for us. It’s up to us to help them live in the future they deserve. How can we do this? Well, renewable energy sources are a great way to start! By increasing the use of sustainable energy through wind power and solar power, we can reduce carbon emissions. While we can’t change the population, we can make sure that whatwe emit into the environment is sustainably sourced.
The effects of global warming on the oceans are countless, but we’re also at risk of rapidly running out of clean drinking water.
Other than the rising sea levels which will destroy homes in coastal cities, the ocean is home to many species. With climate change and rising temperatures, the ocean is heating up as well, putting at risk the countless animal and plant species calling it home. It is estimated that with the current state of decline, at 2C global warming, fishermen will lose 3 million tonnes of fish. Not to mention each person creates around 4.40 pounds of waste each day. Most of that waste is either thrown into landfills which, by burning it, releases even more greenhouse gases -- and if not disposed off in that manner, the waste is thrown into our oceans where they contaminate the water and harm marine life. Along with the sea and ocean issues, the water we drink can also become contaminated by pollution, airborne diseases, and other hazardous chemicals. There are already an estimated 780 million people that don’t have access to clean drinking water -- and that number can only grow from here. Cape Town in South Africa was already predicted as the first city that will have to turn their water supply off, and while they managed to repair the situation enough to avoid this outcome soon, at this rate it is an unavoidable future. What that means for the world is water rations -- standing in line to get your limited supply of drinkable water, supervised and guarded by the military. Perhaps this might sound like some Mad Max sci-fi future you can’t really comprehend, but for future generations, it will be a dark reality. When it comes to water conservation, you can already do your part, today, through little things. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, or while soaping up in the shower. You can limit the amount of water you waste while hand-washing dishes -- soaping them all up first before rinsing them out. Don’t be discouraged by thinking doing so little won’t make a difference -- if we all do a little bit it will amount to a lot!
What does all of this mean for you?
In reality, you might not feel the direct effect of this crisis soon enough -- other than hotter summers, colder winters, extreme floods, and hurricanes. The bad weather conditions we've been listening about are on their way to getting much worse, but if you don't live in areas prone to, for example, hurricanes, it might be hard to imagine exactly how catastrophic these climate changes are.
That’s exactly why changing things has been proven difficult. It’s in our nature to take care of ourselves, and our loved ones, worry about giving our family the best life in the present. We don’t really feel like we have the luxury of worrying about the future when the present is already a battlefield -- especially when this fictional future doesn’t directly affect us. But there is one important thing you need to know. If YOU don’t help things change, right now, no one in the future will be able to do anything.
We have a little more than 11 years to change things around before the consequences become irreparable.
When your grandchildren will need to wear masks to school every day, to protect themselves from air pollution -- they won’t be able to plant enough trees to make a difference. They won’t be able to conserve water to avoid dehydration and thirst. They won’t be able to bring back the animal and plant species that will have been lost forever.
That’s on us. Whether you like it or not, the responsibility is ours now. We’re the only ones that can make a difference and save the planet. We need to care about our home.
You can be Earth’s personal Superhero, you just have to act.
But you need to act. You need to care. You need to talk about this and realize this is a crisis and we’re in it together. It’s not too late. We can make a difference, here and now.
How can you help?
You can make a difference, all you have to do is decide to make a change. A change that will not just benefit your health, but the health of this planet and your environment. It’s all about being aware, raising awareness with others and changing whatever you can in your daily life to make it more sustainable. You can take a look at our article on tips and tricks to living a sustainable life to get started on the right path. Along with that, here are some things you can keep in mind.
1. Talk to your elected government officials.
This is very important. We, the people, have all the power, but as long as corporations and manufacturers are not being held accountable and no laws are set in place that will enforce sustainability and reduce emissions, we still might lose this fight for our planet. You need to talk to your elected officials and convince them to join this fight with you. They need your support to be elected and are most likely to take action if enough of us pressure them into it. You have all the power, you truly do, you just haven’t been using it to your full potential yet -- and there’s no time like the present to start.
2. Support businesses that are sustainably sourced.
Many companies and businesses have been working hard to provide sustainably sourced solutions that still allow us to keep the quality of life we’re so used to leading. The best way to ensure a sustainable way of life is to support the ones who are trying to help us achieve it. Take a look at popular ecolabels that have been fighting the good fight and do your own research for sustainable companies once you’re looking into buying certain items.
3. Raise awareness in your community.
Not facing your fears will stop any progress from happening. These are scary times, and no one really wants to talk about the heavy (depressing) topics. We would all rather distract ourselves with a box of Ben & Jerry’s and the newest Netflix special. But if we keep pushing these topics to the back of our minds, eventually they’re going to catch up to us, and by that time it might be too late. The time is now. You can make a difference now. Educate your family, your circle of friends, anyone in your community. Tell them it’s five minutes to midnight and we need to act. Educate them on how they can make a change to their daily lifestyle in order to become a part of the solution instead of staying a part of the problem. Do your part in keeping this planet green, blue and beautiful and giving your future generations a chance to experience life on this extraordinary planet we call home -- Earth.