Earthlings have survived hundreds of predicted catastrophic events, including numerous Biblical Apocalypses, Halley's comet blowing up the planet, to sixteen million aliens attacking the world. Hell, we even survived the Y2K bug.
But, joking aside, there is an imminent threat to human life - climate change.
A new UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released this week indicating that we need to clean up our act or face catastrophic consequences by 2050.
The report, authored by a community of 90 scientists who reviewed thousands of peer reviewed scientific articles on climate change, stated that we have only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C and avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown. Global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by 2050 in order to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees, which scientists now agree is the absolute upper limit to avoid ecological disaster.
If we continue to release carbon emissions at the current rate, the world could reach ocean temperatures of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels as early as 2040, and 2 degrees by 2065. Basically, we would say goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef and equatorial fish populations, who would migrate to cooler climes.
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we’ve seen an accelerated increase in carbon emissions, mostly as a result of fossil fueled engines and coal fired power stations.
This is having catastrophic effect on the environment. In Australia alone, we’ve seen 50% of the Great Barrier reef die since 2016 as a result of two heat waves in the region, igniting 2 severe coral bleaching events.
The IPCC Report indicates severe global ecological implications if we don’t address the carbon emissions crisis. Australian Minister for the Environment Melissa Price released a statement in response to the report, in which she claimed the Government was “particularly concerned” about the implications for coral reefs.
This statement was made only weeks after Liberal-National Party backbenchers used the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as a platform to force a leadership spill and oust then PM Malcolm Turnbull. The faction called on the Government to back out of Australia’s commitment to carbon emission reduction targets, signed in 2015 by the Abbott Government as a part of the UNFCCC Paris agreement. They also called for new Government and private sector investment into the building coal fired power stations, claiming that climate science is a “green ideology”.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that leadership on this issue must come from ordinary people, not elected officials. The onus is on us to make changes small and large in our daily lives to create a groundswell and positive movement for change.
These days, it’s not aliens we need to be afraid of - it’s the human race!
Where can I start?
Here are some ideas for what you can do from our team at The Merrier:
- Switch to electricity suppliers who have a 5 star green rating. Check out the Green Energy Guide for help.
- Use public transport (or ride your bike to work)
- Install solar panels. It’s a big upfront cost but with the rate the world’s warming, you’ll recoup the savings in no time!
- Make sure you have energy efficient LED lighting in your home.
- Reduce your meat intake (try Meat Free Mondays)
Who to follow for more information?
If you need inspiration, check out these leading members of our influencer community on Instagram who advocate for positive environmental impact:
@plasticfreemermaid (Kate Nelson). Advocates for mermaids and calls on the human race to ‘clean up their act’ so the mermaids feel safe to emerge.
@Lucyinthesky_ is romanticising sustainability for a better tomorrow.
@seabinsproject A not-for-profit organisation installing floating bins to help remove plastic waste from the ocean.