With scientific evidence mounting, climate change and global warming are no longer theories and are now widely regarded as fact. Carbon emissions released from the burning of non-renewable fuels such as coal and oil are causing the temperature of the world to rise, leading to dire consequences. The effects of this are set to have planet changing results, many of which we’re already experiencing.
It’s not only mankind that stands to suffer from the increasingly volatile and unpredictable weather patterns. A study in the Nature Climate Change Journal last year warned that if we don’t reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, over a third of the world’s wildlife will lose half or more of their habitats. During the next century we could see dramatic changes to our planet’s animal population, with many species potentially being driven to extinction.
The image of a polar bear clinging to a melting iceberg is one that has become all too common in our media. The polar icecaps are melting at an astonishing rate of up to 500 cubic kilometres a year, according to recent studies, and as these landscapes break apart into the ocean, arctic wildlife populations may suffer.
The WWF currently lists polar bears as vulnerable, and by 2040 it is predicted that only a small section of polar ice will remain in North East Canada and Northern Greenland. However, it’s not only polar bears that will suffer from this changing environment.
A commonly discussed environmental concern is the Gulf Stream. Hot air from the tropical coasts of Florida carry along the East American Coastline over the Atlantic and towards Europe, providing the West of the continent with more temperate weather. As icecaps melt, the ocean temperature will drop, affecting not only the oceanic wildlife but changing the gulf stream. The result of this could be catastrophic to a great number of species in Europe and America, having a knock-on effects to the rest of the world.
Where indigenous wildlife has adapted over millions of years to specific climates and environments, this rapid change can wreak havoc with the natural order that has been established. However, this is not to say that we are fated to see a huge proportion of our wildlife disappears. By cutting down on our carbon emissions, we can help reduce the effects of climate change and maintain the delicate eco-systems of our planet’s wildlife.
It is currently predicted that by 2100 temperatures will rise by 40c above what they were in pre-industrial times. This will have a massive impact on the geography of our world, but it can be reduced. The loss of wildlife decreases to around 60% if we manage to cut global warming to 2% above pre-industrial. This would be with emissions peaking at 2016, yet if they were to peak at 2030, we could reduce effects by 40%.
This can be done through a number of methods. Putting pressure on governments and industry to encourage their reduction of carbon emissions is great, and there are also a number of things you can do for yourself. Ensuring that your home is as energy efficient as possible will help to reduce your carbon footprint and make you less reliant on fossil fuels.
There are a number of energy saving upgrades you can make to your home that will help to reduce your carbon emissions, many of which are covered in government schemes such as the Green Deal. These initiatives show not only how you can save on energy usage, but also the changing attitudes to our impact on the environment.