There are many important issues facing us today. However, there is one that is entirely urgent. One, that if we do not take ownership of, will result in our inability to adequately address the remaining problems. Our planet is dying. Our home is threatened. There is no more time left. The time for change is now.
Reads like a summary of a Hollywood disaster movie, doesn’t it? Except this is real. We are the ones responsible and now it is time to make amends. Anthropogenic climate change or
global warming is caused by human activity as opposed to direct changes in climate as a result of the earth’s natural processes. In summary, we did this.
As a country, our climate is changing in line with global patterns. The most obvious indicator being that of temperature records.
There have been increases in our annual rainfall and a reduction in the number of frost days and a shortening of the frost season length. The effects of which are domino-like in relation to our natural environment and wildlife. This last year has felt extreme. Our weather has been volatile and everyone, ourselves and the flora and fauna, is confused.
I anticipate the shrouding of my personage in my winter cloak, i.e. heavy knitwear, with all the glee of a child waiting to descend the stairs on the morning of December 25. I barely had the
opportunity to give my collection an airing. When I did don my armour of wool, I regretted my decision almost immediately such were its perspiration-inducing properties due to the ever-escalating temperatures. I cannot recall a previous festive season where I was able to shop for gifts without a coat.
Sitting outside one mid-winter morning, I noticed a slew of birds sitting on a wire. One intrepid little investigator hopped onto the table next to me. ‘Shouldn’t you and your mates be gone already?’
He offered me a look as if to say, ‘no, it’s grand, I just slapped on some factor 50 there to catch some rays’.
Our bird table, pillaged during winters of yore, remained untouched for a considerable stretch of time due to the mild climes. It all felt ominous and rather foreboding. For the most part, we have been able to turn a blind eye to the damage being inflicted upon our planet. Mainly due to the fact that it is not directly visible in front of us. However, the effects are there, glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering earlier. We have accelerated sea level rise (it is projected to rise another 30cm to 120cm by 2100) and longer periods of intense heatwaves; summer of 2018 anyone?
Now, not only can we see it, we can feel it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which includes more than 1,300 scientists, forecasts a temperature rise of 4.3C over the next century.
“Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time,” says the IPCC.
As a country, we are far behind in our commitment to our emissions targets and more than a bit lacklustre in our efforts to combat climate change in comparison to our neighbours in the EU. We as a country are now on borrowed time. We need to speak about this continually, we need to enact change and we need to do it now.
I will hold my hand up and admit my efforts in making strides to reduce my family’s carbon footprint in previous years has been more than lacking and we are still a long, long way from where others are. I get it, you’re tired, you just want to make it through the work week semi intact.
We don’t have a tumble dryer. Our dishwasher gave up the ghost a few months ago and we quickly realised we did not need it so therefore did not replace it. We swapped out liquid soaps for bars, changed our cleaning products, turned the thermostat down, incorporated a myriad of plants into our home, reduced our consumption of meat, educated ourselves about recycling and single-use plastics and shopped locally.
We discuss with our children the impact we have on the environment thus, making them consciously aware. My hope in doing so, is that they will make even greater strides than our generation has to safeguard our planet.