About the Environment
So, what exactly is the problem with our Environment?
The earth is getting hotter and it is doing it very quickly. This is called Climate Change. The increase in average global temperatures will cause big changes to occur in our environment. The changes will be different from one region to another
- Some areas will become hotter as others become colder.
- Some areas may suffer water shortages, while others experience floods.
- Polar icecaps and glaciers will melt causing sea levels around the world to rise destroying land vital to human existence.
- Some islands may completely disappear under water.
- Deserts will become bigger as rainforests become smaller.
- The weather will become more extreme causing large-scale destruction across the globe from typhoons, Hurricanes, heat waves, flooding to forest fires.
- Climate Change will destroy the places where we live and grow our food.
- Climate change will affect everything living on the planet
Many of the world's species are already threatened as their habitats are destroyed: every day 100's of the planet's species are dying out and many are on the verge of extinction.
When many species die out at once it is called a mass extinction and it's believed that the rate at which species are currently dying-out was last seen just before the last mass extinction took place. This was 60 million years ago when the dinosaurs died out.
Biodiversity refers to the rich variety of life found on our planet.
The biodiversity of the planet is diminishing.
Every life form (whether it is a plant, animal or fungi) has an important role to perform in the planet's many ecosystems. The planet needs biodiversity to make its ecosystems operate effectively and allow life on earth to thrive.
If the planet's ecosystems start to fail then life on earth will fail.
Ecosystems ensure planet Earth maintains a balanced state.
The Earth consists of a series of interdependent systems and cycles (such as the water, carbon & sulphur cycles to name but a few).
If the delicate balance of these systems and cycles is upset the earth could spiral out of control. The consequences of this could be disastrous for the human race. The real worry is not that the climate is changing, but that the climate is changing so rapidly that we will not be able to adapt our lives in time to survive the much hotter conditions. This is why it is so important for us to do something now.
We must slow down the rate at which the earth is warming up.
Scientific consensus links global warming to human activity.
Climate change is a result of human activity, in particular the burning of huge amounts of fossil fuels. Burning fossils releases CO2 into the atmosphere. This warms the earth through a process called the greenhouse effect. This is where greenhouse gases, such as CO2, act as a blanket around the earth preventing some of the Sun's heat (reflected off of the earth's surface) from escaping back into outer space. The trapped heat causes the earth's temperature to increase.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution (early 1800s) records have shown a rapid increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The industrial revolution marks the advent of automation. Since then everything in our daily lives has become more and more reliant on machines & technology powered, in the main, by fossil fuels. Many of us cannot imagine living in a world without power.
Our jobs are now so specialised & technology reliant that many of us have lost some of the basic survival skills, such as, how to grow our own food, farm animals, build shelters, make clothes, and possibly even how to make a fire and cook.
Would you and your family know how to survive if your power supply was cut off tomorrow?
Oil reserves are running low and may run out in less than 40 years. Shortages are already being seen!
Prior to the industrial revolution atmospheric CO2 was 280 ppm (parts per million) and it had been so for some time (around 1,000 years).
Current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are now over 380 ppm: an increase of over 30% over a very short time span.
Scientists believe that if the world's systems and cycles are to remain in balance we must ensure atmospheric CO2 remains below 450 ppmv, above this, the planet's systems are seriously at risk of spiraling out of control.
In total there are 6 greenhouse gases. Including all 6 gases in the calculations, the current concentrations become 430 ppm of CO2 equivalents (CO2e). If we continue to consume at our current rate then by 2050 levels have been estimated to be between 550 - 700 ppmv. This is already a long way above the level considered safe by scientists. This does not take into account any increase in usage, which seems inevitable with the developing countries such as China and India keen to get a foothold in the global economy and the West's general thirst for technological advancement. The message is simple: reduce consumption
To prevent CO2 levels from rising: take steps now to change the way we live our daily lives. We must become less dependent on fossil fuels and other activities that create greenhouse gases. This may involve seeking alternative technologies, but first and foremost it means reducing our levels of consumption. If we want to secure a safe place for future generations to live we must change the way we are living our lives TODAY