Global Climate Change: We are in Survival Mode!
Climate Change is happening, and natural climate cycles (yearly, millennial, etc.) help us understand climate patterns, yet recently there have been deviations from these expected patterns (11), which is concerning.
Let’s dive deep into this.
Table of Contents
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. According to the United Nations (1), at its core, climate change refers to significant changes in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other conditions that are predominantly caused by human activity. These changes can devastate Earth’s ecosystems and natural systems, ranging from abnormal weather patterns to loss of biodiversity and sea level rise.
Our Impact on the Climate and the Earth
Humans are a disruptive and dominating force on Earth and have caused a significant impact on the climate, the Land, Sea & Air, and its resources in an unsustainable way.
We need change now more than ever before because one day soon, everything could be gone forever!
Here are some examples:
- Lost and Wasted Food
1/3 of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally; that’s 1.3 billion tons per year. In Western Society, 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels (17).
- Over Consumption and Poor Food Choices
Most of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight people (28).
An estimated 1/3 of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited or depleted (13). There are 97% fewer Pacific Bluefin Tuna due to overfishing (12).
- Throw Away Society
99% of the stuff we buy is trashed within 6 months (18).
- Transport & Logistics
The transport and logistics sector contributes around 24% of global CO2 emissions (30, 31) and could potentially account for 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
- Deforestation and Forest Degradation
Carbon dioxide is released, and biodiversity is impacted in these areas (16). In 2019, the tropics lost close to 30 soccer fields’ worth of trees every single minute (29).
- An Ocean of Plastics
The amount of plastic trash that flows into the oceans yearly is expected to nearly triple by 2040 to 29 million metric tons (22).
Fish and other Sea Creatures ingest plastic, which can cause intestinal injury and death (21).
There is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) in the ocean, mainly made up of plastics, that is an estimated 1.6 million square kilometers, about twice the size of texas.
How Climate Change Is Affecting Our World
The impacts of global climate change are already being felt by humans and the natural world around us in several ways. NASA lists the following as the most significant:
- Droughts and Heatwaves
The occurrence and intensity of droughts are changing, and rising temperatures drive these changes. Ongoing trends are increasingly characterized by longer, more intense periods of drought accompanied by abnormally hot weather (26).
- Rising Sea Levels
Global sea level has been rising at an alarming rate over the past century, with levels increasing by about 8 inches since reliable record-keeping began in 1880. Moreover, scientists project that this trend will continue well into the future, with levels expected to rise another foot or even more by the end of the 21st century. This dramatic increase is due primarily to two factors: accelerated melting of land ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets, and the expansion of seawater as temperatures rise (26).
As we’ve seen all too clearly in recent years, warming temperatures are significantly altering the world’s wildfire season. As a result, longer and more severe wildfire seasons have become the new normal across much of the West, as drought conditions have intensified and weather conditions have grown more conducive to fire (26).
- Increased Storms and Hurricanes
As we have seen with the devastating effects of Hurricanes, climate change is not something to be taken lightly. Not only does it cause more rapid changes in weather patterns, but it also leads to more severe storms and hurricanes. These extreme weather events seriously threaten lives, homes, and communities (26).
- Food Supply Issues
We are seeing a significant shift in our growing season. Longer, warmer summers allow plant life to flourish earlier in the year, while later winters allow certain species to linger well into the fall. This change affects ecosystems and agriculture, with consequences ranging from increased weed growth to changes in crop yields (27).
In some areas, the earlier onset of spring is causing problems for migratory animals that rely on a particular type of food being available at specific times of the year.
As droughts become more common, crop yields are dropping, leading to higher prices and even shortages of certain foods. In addition, wildfires and extreme weather events are damaging infrastructure and disrupting transportation, making it difficult to get food to market.
- Spread of Disease
Climate change is having a major impact on human health, altering weather patterns and creating more extreme weather events. These shifts in climate are causing changes in the distribution, prevalence, and severity of infectious diseases around the world. For example, variations in temperature can affect the development and survival of disease-causing pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Warmer temperatures can accelerate the growth and replication of these pathogens, increasing their abundance and potentially leading to a greater risk of infection.
On the other hand, dramatic shifts in weather conditions due to extreme events can alter vector-borne diseases (3) that are transmitted by insects or other organisms. For example, increased rainfall after a period of drought can lead to an increase in the number of mosquitoes carrying dangerous diseases such as malaria or dengue fever. As the climate becomes more favorable for mosquitoes, it will become increasingly challenging to keep their population in check, said Eric Mordecai (4), a Stanford biologist.
Rising global temperatures are wreaking havoc on ecosystems worldwide, putting countless plant and animal species at risk of extinction. As temperatures climb, animals must adapt or move to find more suitable habitats. But in many cases, their need for food or inability to travel quickly enough due to limited mobility puts them at a significant disadvantage.
In addition, increasing temperatures change weather patterns, drying up water sources and disrupting the delicate balance between predator and prey. If these trends continue unchecked, they could lead to large-scale extinctions that threaten entire ecosystems.
International Climate Change Agreements
Climate change is a global problem that requires a global response. International cooperation is crucial to finding solutions that work on a larger scale. Over the past few decades, many countries have made significant progress in combating climate change through international agreements and treaties.
The Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol (5) is an international treaty that was established in 1987 to address the critical issue of stratospheric ozone depletion. At the time, scientists had become increasingly concerned about the harmful effects of certain chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. These chemicals were used in a wide range of products – from refrigerators to spray cans – and rapidly accumulated in the atmosphere. They were eventually discovered to be one of the main drivers behind ozone depletion, causing large-scale increases in harmful ultraviolet radiation levels worldwide.
The Montreal Protocol called for global cooperation to phase out the production and use of these damaging compounds. Over time, this led to significant advances in environmental protection and sustainability, and today we can see clear signs of recovery in the Earth’s ozone layer. The impact of this treaty has been felt globally, and it serves as a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work together for a common goal.
Image from ScienceDirect.com (33)
Shows the reduction of the ozone and later recovery.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The UNFCCC (6), ratified by 197 countries, is a landmark climate accord and was a historic moment for the global community. This groundbreaking treaty was not only the first to explicitly address the climate change issue but also laid the foundation for future international discussions aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
By establishing an annual forum known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP, this groundbreaking agreement laid the groundwork for today’s major climate initiatives, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
COP27, was the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 6 November until 20 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. More than 92 heads of state and an estimated 35,000 representatives, or delegates, of 190 countries attended.
The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol (7) was a groundbreaking climate treaty, setting the stage for decades of international climate action. Adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005, it was the first agreement to require developed countries to take concrete steps to reduce their carbon emissions. By targeting these countries specifically, the protocol recognized that they had historically been the primary contributors to climate change and thus had a special responsibility to act. The protocol also established a system for monitoring emissions among participating nations and incentivized developing countries, such as China and India, to take action through direct partnerships with developed countries.
The Paris Agreement
On December 12, 2015, representatives from 196 countries came together in Paris to sign the Paris Agreement (8), a legally binding document that sets out a global plan to combat climate change.
In short, the Paris Agreement requires all signatory nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
The Significance of the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is one of the most significant historical events. First and foremost, the agreement was a landmark moment for international diplomacy. Never before had so many countries come together to combat a common problem such as climate change, and it set an important precedent for future negotiations on other pressing issues.
In addition, the agreement took a groundbreaking approach by shifting away from narrowly focused efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and instead emphasizing the need to adapt our global economy and infrastructure to the realities of climate change.
Finally, the Paris Agreement has inspired countless people worldwide to take action by raising awareness about the threat that climate change poses to our planet and society. By strengthening unity among nations against this globally-felt challenge, the Paris Agreement has made us stronger as a global community. Its impact will be felt for generations to come.
The Paris Agreement in Action
To achieve the goal of lowering global temperatures, each country has agreed to develop its tailor-made plan for reducing emissions. These plans are known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are not set in stone and can be revised and updated over time as a country’s circumstances change.
In developing these strategies, governments must consider various factors, including existing technologies, economic feasibility, social impacts, and environmental constraints. By taking such a holistic approach to addressing climate change, countries can ensure that they are making well-informed decisions and maximizing their chances of achieving meaningful results.
How Countries are Helping Each Other
The Paris Agreement provides a comprehensive framework for addressing the complex and multifaceted issue of climate finance. On the one hand, it encourages developed countries to provide financial support to less endowed and more vulnerable countries, recognizing their crucial role in driving global efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
At the same time, it acknowledges that developing economies also have a vital role in addressing this issue through voluntary contributions from all participating parties. This balanced approach is essential for ensuring that adequate funds are made available for mitigation and adaptation initiatives, with large-scale investments needed to reduce emissions and better adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
Support for the Paris Agreement
The international community has widely lauded the Paris Agreement as a crucial step in the fight against climate change. However, there have been some criticisms of the agreement. One is that it does not include any enforceable penalties for countries that fail to meet their emissions targets. Despite these concerns, the Paris Agreement represents a significant and much-needed effort to address one of the most pressing issues of our time.
The Paris Agreement in Effect Today
Although there is still much work to be done in the fight against climate change, the past few years have seen a significant uptick in low-carbon solutions and new markets. As more and more countries, regions, cities, and companies establish carbon neutrality targets and embrace zero-carbon technologies, there is a true shift towards low-carbon enterprises across a wide variety of industries. Zero-carbon solutions are becoming competitive on their own terms and creating lucrative opportunities for businesses that move first.
By 2030, it is estimated that zero-carbon solutions will be competitive in at least 70% of global emissions-intensive industries, an incredible achievement has given where we were just a few short years ago.
The Need For Continued Action
Despite the progress that has been made, it is still estimated that global temperatures will rise by 2 Degrees Celsius by the end of the century if we do not take further action. This increase in temperature would have devastating consequences for our planet, including more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and mass species extinction. To avoid these outcomes, we must continue working towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals. We can do this in many ways, both as individuals and as a society.
What is Sustainability?
We often hear the word sustainability about environmentalism or green living. But what exactly is sustainability? Sustainable is defined as “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” So, when we talk about environmental sustainability, we are talking about practices that can be maintained over time without damaging or depleting resources. So, sustainability is about finding a balance between meeting our human needs and preserving the natural world around us.
There are three main pillars of sustainability – social, economic, and environmental. For something to be truly sustainable, it must take all three of these pillars into account.
1. Social Sustainability
Social sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of present and future generations. This means considering things like human rights, social equity, and diversity. A lot of times, when we talk about sustainability, we focus mainly on environmental concerns. But social sustainability is just as important – after all, humans are part of the environment too!
2. Economic Sustainability
Economic sustainability looks at how we can maintain economic growth without damaging environmental resources or creating social inequality. For example, one way to sustain economic growth is through eco-tourism. Instead of polluting factories, we create jobs by offering tour packages focusing on nature conservation and enjoying natural scenery and wildlife. This type of sustainable economic growth benefits both the environment and local communities.
3. Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability is probably what most people think of when they hear the word “sustainability.” It refers to practices that help us preserve natural resources so that they can continue to be used by future generations. This includes reducing pollution and waste, conserving energy and water, and protecting ecosystems through reforestation projects.
Environmental sustainability is important because our planet is finite. There are only so many resources available, and we must find ways to use them responsibly, so they don’t run out. Climate change is another big reason why environmental sustainably is so important – if we want our planet to be livable for future generations, we need to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment now.
The Weight of the World: Carbon Footprint
We all know that our actions have consequences. But sometimes, it’s hard to see just how significant those consequences can be. The world is a big place, and the things we do – good or bad – can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond our little corner. Nowhere is this more true than when we’re talking about carbon footprint.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of an individual, organization, or community (9). This term can refer to natural and artificial processes, including electricity and heating usage, vehicle emissions, and waste production. In general, the bigger one’s carbon footprint, the more greenhouse gases they release into the environment. Therefore, reducing one’s carbon footprint has become an important goal for many individuals and organizations. Yet, there still needs to be a complete mindset change, needing most, if not all, individuals and organizations to reduce their Carbon Footprint.
The size of your carbon footprint depends on many factors, including how you get around, what you eat, and the products you buy. But whatever your footprint may be, it’s important to remember that we all have one – and that our collective footprints are responsible for the climate change we’re seeing.
What Can We Do?
Planting trees can help, yet we can’t plant enough trees to stop Climate Change (19, 20), nor will that help prevent plastics from going into the oceans. New clean technologies are coming, yet we can’t rely on them alone, and we would just be kicking the can down the road; we need real and permanent change.
Mindset and Action
There needs to be a fundamental change in our Mindset from a consumerism society to something that is more sustainable. We need to move towards a Circular Economy (25), where we need Reduce, Reuse (and Share), Recycle, and Repair in addition to cleaning up our mess.
Governments can change laws, create regulations, tax companies, and more, yet if there is a demand, a business will grow around it.
“So, we need to reduce and even stop the consumption of high Carbon Footprint Goods & Services.”
Remember, you do not need to be a company’s CEO to change it; if there is little or no demand, a business will change focus or disappear. Therefore, buy local and support businesses with sustainable practices, goods, and services.
Here are a few more things you can do:
1. Achieve before Gaming
Do one or more of the below points every day before gaming or sitting in front of a screen. Consider the more you do, the more time you can game or watch, with a Maximum of 2 hours per day. Stay tuned for the Full Vitality Challenge for a healthy Gamer Lifestyle and to Save the Earth.
2. Drive Less
Carpooling, biking, taking public transportation, or walking whenever possible is a start. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (10), the average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Also, keep your tires adequately inflated, or else it adds to emissions.
3. Eat Less Meat
Meat production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions-more than the entire transportation sector! So simply eating less meat can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repair
Recycling and composting can help reduce the emissions associated with manufacturing new products. And reuse or repairing items instead of buying new ones helps to reduce emissions even further.
5. Save Energy
There are plenty of easy ways to save energy around your house. For example, something as simple as turning off the lights when you leave a room can make a big difference. You can also save energy (and money) by using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging electronics when not being used, and setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer.
6. Buy Eco-friendly Products
Did you know that some products are better for the environment than others? So when making purchases, try to buy eco-friendly items when possible.
For example, choose recycled paper over virgin paper, rechargeable batteries over disposable batteries, and so on.
7. Start A Healthier Lifestyle
Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are all great ways to improve your health. Unfortunately, people who are unhealthy are more likely to get sick, which can lead to more doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and the use of medication-all, which require energy and resources.
8. Be Conscious Of What You Buy
Be conscious of what you buy and where it comes from. If possible, buy local and support businesses that have sustainable practices. Be an informed consumer and know the difference between certified organic products and those labeled “natural.” When in doubt, vote with your dollars and choose products that align with your values.
9. Eat Whole Foods
Eating whole foods is not only good for your health, but it’s also good for the environment. By definition, whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined, requiring less energy and resources to produce. They’re also often local and seasonal, reducing their carbon footprint.
10. Grow Your Own Food
If you have the space, consider growing your food. Not only will you enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, but you’ll also know exactly where your food comes from and how it was produced. Plus, home-grown food often tastes better than store-bought food!
Composting is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you compost, you’re essentially recycling organic matter back into the soil, which helps to sequester carbon dioxide and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
12. Support renewable energy
There are many ways to support renewable energy. For example, you can install solar panels on your home or business, purchase green power from your utility company, or invest in a renewable energy project.
13. Reduce your Consumption
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to consume less. That means buying fewer things, driving less, eating less meat, etc. Of course, this can be easier said than done. But if we all make an effort to consume less, we can collectively make a significant impact.
How Global Climate Change Could Affect Your Gaming
We’ve all heard about global climate change and its potential to wreak havoc on our planet. But what about its potential to ruin our gaming sessions? Whether you’re a hardcore PC gamer or a casual mobile gamer, there’s no denying that global climate change will significantly impact your ability to game in the near future, from computer/console overheating, to power outages, equipment damages, and much more.
Climate Change may not affect you significantly at this time, but it will be too late once it does.
We want to avoid this and start thinking about your impact.
Global Climate Change is a reality that we cannot ignore any longer. It’s time to start paying attention to our actions and how they affect the world around us.
Join Vitality For Gamers’ cause, and let’s Save the Earth and our Health.
As, sooner or later, we will not have a choice, as we are now in Survival Mode.
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1. What Is Climate Change?United Nations
Climate change refers to long-term alterations in weather patterns and temperatures. Since the 1800s, human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have been the main cause, producing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which increase global temperatures. The major sectors contributing to these emissions include energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, and land use.
Scientific evidence shows that humans are virtually the sole contributors to global warming over the past 200 years. The Earth's average surface temperature is now about 1.1°C warmer than before the industrial revolution and is rising at an unprecedented rate, leading to extreme weather events and biodiversity decline.
The effects of climate change impact our health, food production, housing, safety, and work, disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities. For instance, inhabitants of small island nations and developing countries face threats such as rising sea levels and extended droughts, leading to displacement and potential famine.
To avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, international scientific consensus recommends limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. However, existing policies predict a 2.8°C increase by the end of the century. Greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change, originate globally but are disproportionately caused by major economies, such as China, the United States, India, the European Union, Indonesia, Russia, and Brazil.
To combat climate change, we must cut emissions, adapt to its impacts, and finance necessary changes. Renewable energy solutions like solar or wind are crucial, requiring a reduction of fossil fuel usage. Adaptation strategies must prioritize the most vulnerable communities, while significant financial investment is needed, particularly from industrialized countries, to help developing nations adapt and transition to greener economies. The cost of climate inaction far outweighs that of taking action.
2. Earth had its 6th-warmest August on recordNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
August 2022 was the sixth-warmest August globally in 143 years, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This marked the end of the Northern Hemisphere’s second-hottest meteorological summer on record. Both North America and Europe experienced their hottest Augusts ever, while Asia recorded its fourth-hottest August.
The average global land and ocean surface temperature in August was 1.62 degrees F above the 20th-century average, while the June–August period was Earth’s fifth warmest on record, tying with 2015 and 2017. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere had its 10th-warmest winter on record.
Antarctic sea ice set a record low for the third consecutive month, and Arctic sea ice saw its 13th-smallest August extent in the 44-year record. The globe experienced nine named storms in August, four of which reached tropical cyclone strength, including Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, the first Category 5 tropical cyclone of 2022. The Atlantic had no named tropical cyclones in August 2022, a rarity that has only occurred in August 1961 and 1997.
3. Climate change is making hundreds of diseases much worseNature
Heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms push up the number of cases, make diseases more severe and hamper people’s ability to cope.
5. Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (with annex). Concluded at Montreal on 16 September 1987United Nations: Treaty Collection
Depositary of Treaties
6. United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change (1992)United Nations: Climate Change
7. Kyoto Protocol To The United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change (1998)United Nations: Climate Change
8. The Paris Agreement (2015-2016)United Nations: Climate Change
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, adopted by 196 Parties in December 2015, and entered into force in November 2016. Its primary aim is to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and strive to limit it to 1.5°C. This is because exceeding the 1.5°C threshold could result in more severe climate change impacts.
The treaty requires greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025 at the latest and reduce by 43% by 2030. It signifies a major advancement in the multilateral climate change process as it unites all nations to tackle climate change and adapt to its impacts.
Implementation of the Paris Agreement involves economic and social transformations, guided by the best available science. It operates on a five-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action, with countries submitting their national climate action plans, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), since 2020. Each successive NDC should display a higher degree of ambition than its predecessor.
Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are expected to lead in providing financial assistance to less affluent and more vulnerable countries. It also encourages voluntary contributions from other parties. Other support includes technology development and transfer to enhance resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and capacity-building for developing countries to deal with climate change challenges.
Countries report transparently on their mitigation and adaptation measures, and support provided or received under an enhanced transparency framework, starting in 2024. These reports feed into a Global Stocktake that evaluates the collective progress towards long-term climate goals and leads to recommendations for more ambitious plans in the next cycle.
While the Paris Agreement's goals require significant increases in climate change action, since its entry into force, it has spurred low-carbon solutions and new markets, with many countries, regions, cities, and companies establishing carbon neutrality targets. By 2030, zero-carbon solutions could be competitive in sectors representing over 70% of global emissions.
9. Climate ChangeGlobal Footprint Network: Advancing the Science of Sustainability
The term "carbon footprint" refers to the amount of carbon, often expressed in tonnes, emitted by an activity or organization. This concept is a key part of the Ecological Footprint, which measures demands on biologically productive space, including the need to sequester carbon emissions. If carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels aren't absorbed due to insufficient biocapacity, they build up in the atmosphere.
Measuring the carbon footprint in terms of land area shows the amount of biocapacity required to neutralize untreated carbon waste. This framework views climate change holistically, without shifting burdens from one natural system to another. It links climate change with other ecological threats such as deforestation, overgrazing, and species extinction, emphasizing that humanity's demands on Earth exceed what it can provide.
The carbon footprint constitutes 60% of humanity's overall Ecological Footprint and is its fastest-growing component. It has increased eleven-fold since 1961. Therefore, reducing the carbon footprint is crucial to living within our planet's means.
The Paris Climate Agreement, established in December 2015, was a significant step towards a fossil-free future, aiming to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees. This implies an end to fossil fuel use before 2050 and emphasizes the necessity for rapid carbon emission reduction and sequestration.
However, national pledges may still result in a temperature rise of between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius, exceeding the agreement's 2-degree limit. The agreement necessitates countries to update emission reduction targets every five years, although it's uncertain if this will stimulate more action.
The agreement recognizes that the transition to a 2-degree limit will require more than clean energy, highlighting the importance of managing land sustainably and not threatening food production. This underscores the need for comprehensive measures like the Ecological Footprint, which considers all demands on the biosphere, including CO2 emissions and carbon absorption capacity.
Transitioning to renewable energy is one powerful way for a country to reduce its Ecological Footprint, though many countries still have a long way to go in this area.
10. Tailpipe Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger VehicleUnited States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, a figure that fluctuates depending on the vehicle's fuel, fuel economy, and miles driven. When fuel burns, CO2 is produced: around 8,887 grams from a gallon of gasoline and 10,180 grams from a gallon of diesel. The process involves the combination of carbon and oxygen from the air to form CO2. Vehicles produce other greenhouse gases too, such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from the tailpipe, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) from leaking air conditioners.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) don't emit tailpipe emissions, with the latter producing only water vapor when operating on hydrogen. However, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) do create tailpipe emissions when operating on gasoline. Besides tailpipe emissions, GHGs are generated in the production and distribution of the fuel used to power the vehicle, be it gasoline or electricity. The CO2 emissions from ethanol-blended gasoline are similar to that of gasoline without ethanol due to lower carbon content per gallon in ethanol.
11. Natural Climate CyclesForest Service: US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
Climate varies naturally on scales ranging from years to millennia, with different physical mechanisms causing cycles at each scale. For instance, Milankovitch cycles, changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun, initiate major glacial and interglacial periods on multi-millennial timescales. While these orbital changes by themselves do not cause large temperature changes, they can initiate feedback mechanisms that amplify warming or cooling. These feedbacks include changes in global surface reflectivity and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The concern with current climate change is that similar feedback mechanisms might trigger a 'runaway' warming effect that will be challenging to stop or reverse.
In addition to multi-millennial cycles, there are shorter cold-warm cycles thought to be driven by changes in the Sun and other factors, such as ocean circulation patterns. Examples include the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Ocean-atmosphere interactions also cause climate cycles on the scale of years to decades, including the well-known El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Global warming might be intensifying these ENSO events. Understanding these natural climate cycles can provide insight into expected climate patterns and how the recent increase in greenhouse gas emissions is causing deviations from these patterns, potentially contributing to strategies for adaptation. However, the current rates of global climate change are notably rapid compared to past changes, which may lead to unanticipated conditions.
12. The sea is running out of fish, despite nations’ pledges to stop itNational Geographic
13. Fact Check: Will The Oceans Be Empty of Fish by 2048, And Other Seaspiracy ConcernsScience Alert
The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy, which explores the adverse impact of the fishing industry, sparked controversy with its claim that all fish in the sea would disappear by 2048 if current fishing trends continue. However, seven out of eight experts in fisheries sciences, marine sciences, and ecology found this claim to be 'extremely unlikely'. While the 2048 prediction stems from a 2006 scientific paper that highlighted alarming marine biodiversity loss trends, its interpretation has been criticized as unrealistic and based on flawed extrapolations of catch data, not actual fish populations. Although the documentary's inaccuracies and extreme viewpoint raised concerns among experts, they unanimously agree that overfishing remains a serious issue. Consequently, the message underscores the urgent need for change, despite the contentious prediction about the 2048 timeline.
14. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem ServicesScience.org
Marine ecosystems, heavily impacted by human activities, are witnessing a rapid decline in species and populations, which is detrimentally affecting marine ecosystem services. This decline in biodiversity is leading to increased rates of resource collapse, decreased stability, and poorer water quality. Conversely, efforts to restore biodiversity have been found to significantly enhance productivity and reduce variability. The study concludes that while the loss of marine biodiversity is currently undermining the ocean's ability to provide food and maintain water quality, these trends are, based on available data, still reversible.
15. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The 2020 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture emphasizes sustainability in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and maturing Sustainable Development Goal indicators. The publication features new focus areas including Sustainable Development Goal 14, ocean pollution, climate change adaptation, and product legality, among others. The final part discusses emerging issues like new technologies and aquaculture biosecurity, concluding with steps towards a new vision for capture fisheries. The report seeks to provide up-to-date, reliable information to a wide range of stakeholders interested in fisheries and aquaculture.
16. DeforestationNational Geographic
Deforestation, the deliberate clearing of forested land for purposes like agriculture, grazing, fuel, and construction, has significantly transformed landscapes worldwide, leading to reduced forest coverage in regions such as Western Europe, North America, and China. Currently, the most deforestation is happening in tropical rainforests, accelerated by road construction, slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, and plantations. Deforestation contributes to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as burned trees release stored carbon, enhancing global warming. It also threatens biodiversity as numerous species lose their habitats, potentially driving them into extinction. Additionally, deforestation increases soil erosion and fire vulnerability by altering forest environments. Although deforestation can be permanent, conservation efforts have allowed for forest resurgence in some areas, such as North America.
17. 5 facts about food waste and hungerWorld Food Programme
Despite producing enough food for everyone, nearly a third of it is wasted or lost each year. This waste happens both in rich countries, mainly at the consumption level, and in developing countries, largely at the point of harvest due to poor storage, pest infestations, lack of technology, and market access. This food waste contributes to global hunger, wastes resources used in production, and is a significant source of carbon dioxide if viewed as a country. Five crucial facts include:
1. One-third of food produced, about 1.3 billion tons worth approximately $1 trillion, is lost or wasted each year.
2. The uneaten food could feed two billion people, over twice the number of the world's undernourished population.
3. If wasted food were a country, it would be the third-largest carbon dioxide producer, after the USA and China.
4. Food waste in rich countries almost equals the net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.
5. In developing countries, 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels, while in industrialized countries, over 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
The UN aims to cut global food waste in half by 2030, as part of its Sustainable Development Goals. The World Food Programme supports this goal by teaching farmers better handling and storage practices and improving access to local markets. Everyone can contribute to reducing food waste.
18. A world of wasteThe World Counts
19. Why don't we just plant a lot of trees?Climate Portal
While trees absorb CO2 and can help combat climate change, they cannot absorb enough to counterbalance all our CO2 emissions, especially from burning fossil fuels. As trees grow, they sequester carbon in their structure and the soil beneath them. However, when forests mature, they become carbon neutral as their CO2 uptake is offset by the release of CO2 through decay and respiration. The benefits of tree planting also depend on their management. Unthoughtful logging can decrease the carbon stored in a forest. Initiatives like the Trillion Trees Act, aiming to plant one trillion trees by 2050, have been criticized for detracting from the crucial need to reduce fossil fuel emissions. According to MIT Professor Charles Harvey, our efforts should be more focused on preventing the destruction of old and biodiverse forests, like peat forests, which are excellent at storing carbon. Individuals can contribute to this cause by voting and influencing decision-making at federal and state levels.
20. How would planting 8 billion trees every year for 20 years affect Earth’s climate?World Economic Forum
Planting 8 billion trees every year for 20 years would result in approximately 160 billion new trees. However, while this would help sequester carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing global warming, it wouldn't be sufficient to counteract human-induced climate change. The amount of carbon a tree can store varies greatly depending on species, location, and age, with an estimated average of 50 pounds of carbon dioxide per tree per year. Even if all trees survived for 20 years, which is highly unlikely, the total carbon sequestration would only offset about 3% of the annual carbon dioxide production of an average person in the U.S., or 26% for someone in India.
Further, while tree planting is part of the solution to climate change, protecting existing forests is also essential. There are approximately 3 trillion trees on Earth, half the number from 12,000 years ago. People cut down an estimated 15 billion trees each year, often in tropical forests. These forests not only absorb carbon dioxide but also provide habitats for animals and resources for people.
Tree planting should be done thoughtfully and not in places like native grasslands or savannas, where they could disrupt existing ecosystems. In addition to planting and protecting trees, humans need to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions quickly, by transitioning to renewable energy sources, driving and flying less, and eating less meat. Individual and collective efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions are crucial, ranging from volunteering with local conservation organizations to leading efforts to protect trees globally.
21. Ocean Plastics Pollution: A Global Tragedy for Our Oceans and Sea LifeCenter for Biological Diversity
Plastic accumulation in our oceans and on our beaches has become a global crisis, with billions of pounds of plastic making up approximately 40% of the world's ocean surfaces. Current rates suggest that by 2050, plastic will outweigh all the fish in the sea. Plastics pollution has a deadly impact on wildlife, killing thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals annually as they ingest or become entangled in it.
We have made more plastic in the first decade of this century than all the plastic produced until the year 2000. An estimated 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic litter the world's oceans, covering every square mile of surface ocean. The fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% over the next decade, exacerbating the plastic pollution epidemic.
The durability of plastic results in a long-lasting impact. All plastic ever made still exists, with five major ocean gyres inundated with plastic pollution. The largest such gyre is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the largest accumulation of plastic in the world.
The toll on wildlife is severe. Fish in the North Pacific ingest thousands of tons of plastic annually, leading to intestinal injury and death and transferring plastic up the food chain. Research indicates that half of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic. A considerable proportion of seabirds have eaten pieces of plastic, predicted to increase to 99 percent by 2050. Marine mammals also ingest and become entangled in plastic.
The Center for Biological Diversity is addressing the problem by petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate plastics as a pollutant under the Clean Water Act. The organization is also suing companies that convert plastic into consumer goods to better control their runoff and challenging the permits needed to build new petrochemical plants.
22. Plastic trash flowing into the seas will nearly triple by 2040 without drastic actionNational Geographic
23. Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plasticNational Library of Medicine
24. The Great Pacific Garbage PatchThe Ocean Cleanup
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is a major zone of plastic accumulation in the ocean, with an estimated 1.15 to 2.41 million metric tonnes of plastic entering the ocean each year from rivers. The GPGP covers a surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, which is twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.
Plastic that enters the ocean degrades into microplastics, increasing their concentration in the GPGP over time. These microplastics can have harmful effects on marine life, which often mistake them for food, leading to malnutrition and entanglement issues. The effects of plastic pollution can also reach humans through the food chain and through economic costs, which are estimated to be $13 billion per year due to impacts on tourism, fisheries, and cleanups.
The GPGP is not a solid mass of plastic, but rather a patch with higher concentrations of plastic at its center. The most common types of plastics found in the GPGP are hard polyethylene, polypropylene, and derelict fishing gear. Plastics in the patch were categorized into four size classes: microplastics (0.05 - 0.5 cm), mesoplastics (0.5 - 5 cm), macroplastics (5 - 50 cm), and megaplastics (anything above 50 cm). Around 92% of the total mass is composed of debris larger than 5mm, while 94% of the total objects counted are microplastics.
The Ocean Cleanup is working to clean up the GPGP using System 002. The organization's research has shown that the plastic persists in the patch, often breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. Their studies also indicated an exponential increase in microplastic mass concentration, suggesting that the input of plastic into the patch is greater than the output.
25. What is a Circular Economy?US Environmental Protection Agency
A circular economy is a system that aims to keep materials, products, and services in circulation as long as possible, striving to eliminate waste and reduce material use through superior design. This approach is restorative or regenerative by design and contrasts the traditional linear model where resources are mined, made into products, and then become waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies have pursued this approach under the sustainable materials management (SMM) since 2009.
The circular economy is a crucial aspect of climate change mitigation, as natural resource extraction and processing contribute to about half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. It also has the potential to protect the environment, improve economics, and promote social justice. Currently, non-circular economies have been shown to disproportionately affect underserved communities who face negative environmental and health impacts.
EPA is actively promoting a circular economy through various initiatives. In November 2021, they published the National Recycling Strategy, followed by a report showcasing progress in the fiscal year 2022. In April 2023, a "Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution" was released for public commentary. Additionally, the EPA is developing action plans for electronics and food loss and waste.
26. The Effects of Climate ChangeGlobal Climate Change: Vital Sign of the Planet
Human-caused global warming is currently manifesting through irreversible effects such as loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and intensified heat waves. Predictions indicate that as long as humans continue to emit greenhouse gases, global temperatures and severe weather damage will continue to increase. Changes to Earth's climate, like shrinking glaciers, early ice break-ups in rivers and lakes, shifts in plant and animal geographic ranges, and premature blooming, are already underway.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), certain climate changes such as droughts, wildfires, and extreme rainfall are happening faster than predicted, and some effects will be irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years. The IPCC's Sixth Assessment report found that human emissions have already warmed the climate by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since pre-Industrial times, with the expectation of reaching or exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next few decades.
The severity of climate change effects will depend on future human activities. More emissions will lead to more climate extremes and damaging effects. However, if we can reduce emissions, we may avoid some of the worst outcomes. The scientific consensus is clear that climate change poses a significant threat to human wellbeing and the planet, and immediate global action is needed to secure a liveable future.
27. Shifting SeasonsConversation in a Changing Climate
The shifting seasons, marked by earlier springs, shorter winters, and fewer freezing days, are linked to global warming. These changes affect the timing of many life cycle events like flowering and pollinator emergence, leading to potential mismatches between interdependent species.
A slight rise in global temperatures can cause spring thaw to occur earlier and the first frost to be delayed, inducing trees and spring wildflowers to bloom earlier. Such environmental changes also lead to shorter winters, earlier springs, longer summers, and delayed autumns. These shifts could result in extended growing seasons, more invasive species and pests, and earlier and longer allergy seasons. The so-called "false springs" can prompt premature plant growth, making them susceptible to subsequent frosts - a trend increasingly observed across the United States.
The implications of these shifts are significant, including potential misalignment between life cycle events of species, higher risk of frost damage, increased risk of drought due to earlier snow-melt and extended summers, and shifting planting zones northward. There might also be a greater impact from pests and diseases due to milder winters.
Land trusts are responding to these shifts by incorporating more plant diversity in restoration projects and strategic conservation planning to reduce risks and enhance resilience. They are also supporting efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to lessen future climate change. Additionally, land trusts are identifying opportunities to reduce vulnerabilities and prepare for changing temperatures in collaboration with their communities.
Building resilience by identifying and reducing potential threats is crucial. By acknowledging vulnerabilities in their planning, land trusts can better achieve their conservation objectives in light of the management challenges associated with rising temperatures.
28. Obesity and overweightWorld Health Organization
This is a World Health Organization (WHO) article from June 2021 that details the global crisis of obesity and overweight populations. Key points are:
- Since 1975, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, of these over 650 million were obese.
- Obesity affects both adults and children, with 39 million children under 5 years and over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 years being overweight or obese in 2020.
- Obesity, once seen as an issue for high-income countries, is now increasing in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban environments.
- The primary cause of obesity is an imbalance between calories consumed and expended, due to an increase in intake of energy-dense, high fat, high sugar foods, and decreased physical activity.
- Obesity is linked to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and some types of cancer. Childhood obesity leads to a higher chance of obesity, premature death, and disability in adulthood.
- Many low- and middle-income countries are now facing a "double burden" of malnutrition, where undernutrition and obesity coexist.
- Prevention strategies include creating supportive environments that shape healthier choices, limiting energy intake from fats and sugars, increasing consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, engaging in regular physical activity, and implementing evidence-based and population-based policies that promote healthier dietary choices and regular physical activity.
- The food industry can promote healthy diets by reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods, ensuring healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers, restricting marketing of unhealthy foods, especially to children and teenagers, and supporting regular physical activity in the workplace.
- The WHO has several strategies and action plans to address the obesity epidemic at a global, regional, and local level.
29. Deforestation and Forest DegradationWorld Wildlife
Forests, covering 31% of the Earth's land area, play a crucial role in providing jobs, purifying water and air, serving as habitat for most of the world's terrestrial life, and acting as a carbon sink to mitigate climate change. However, these forests are threatened by deforestation and degradation, primarily due to agriculture, poorly planned infrastructure, and illegal logging. In 2019, the tropics lost an area equivalent to 30 soccer fields of trees every minute.
Tropical rainforests, rich in biodiversity, are of specific concern. For instance, the Amazon has lost around 17% of its forest cover over the past 50 years, largely due to conversion for cattle ranching. This deforestation is especially rampant near populated areas, roads, and rivers, but even remote areas are not safe when valuable resources like mahogany, gold, and oil are found.
For over half a century, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been working to protect forests. They collaborate with governments, companies, communities, and other stakeholders to promote responsible forest management certification, combat illegal logging, reform trade policies, and protect forested areas.
30. Cars, planes, trains: where do CO2 emissions from transport come from?Our World in Data
Transportation accounts for about one-fifth of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, with road travel, specifically passenger vehicles and trucks, being responsible for three-quarters of transport emissions, or 15% of total CO2 emissions. Despite often being the focus of climate change discussions, aviation only contributes 11.6% of transport emissions, equating to around 2.5% of global emissions. International shipping contributes a similar amount, while rail travel and freight generate a mere 1% of transport emissions. Other transport, like pipelines for water, oil, and gas, account for 2.2%.
Looking to the future, global transport is expected to double by 2070 due to an increasing population, rising incomes, and more people affording cars, trains, and flights. This rise could lead to a significant increase in transport emissions. However, technological advancements such as the proliferation of electric vehicles and the shift towards lower-carbon electricity sources could offset this. Under the International Energy Agency’s “Sustainable Development Scenario”, the phase-out of emissions from motorcycles is expected by 2040, rail by 2050, and small trucks by 2060, with conventional vehicles being phased out in many regions as early as 2040.
However, long-distance road freight (large trucks), aviation, and shipping are challenging sectors to decarbonize due to limitations in current technologies, including the size and weight of batteries or hydrogen fuel tanks. Even under optimistic scenarios, these sub-sectors could still make transport the largest contributor to energy-related emissions in 2070. To reach net-zero emissions, these would need to be offset by 'negative emissions' from other parts of the energy system. According to the IEA, nearly two-thirds of the emissions reductions in their net-zero scenario come from technologies not yet commercially available, indicating a significant challenge for the transport sector over the next half-century.
31. Climate ChangeCarbon Care: Reduce Emissions
32. Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plasticNature
33. The way forward for Montreal Protocol scienceScience Direct