Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-sponsored body, released their latest climate report.
The nearly 4,000-page document was put together by hundreds of scientists from around the world, analyzing 14,000 studies from the past three years.
It went through a number of reviews before being signed off by 195 countries.
It is a comprehensive report and for the first time scientists and governments from around the world have agreed that it is unequivocal (no doubt) that humans have had an influence or are having an influence on the climate.
There is a lot to unpack in the report but some of the key take-aways include:
The temperature is rising.
The 1.5 degree centigrade maximum increase from pre industrial revolution levels set in the Paris climate agreement will be exceeded during this century.
It will even surpass 2 degrees C unless steps are quickly taken to zero-out emissions.
Extreme weather events will become more regular and more severe.
We will see more severe heat waves and longer and more intense fire seasons, tropical cyclones will get stronger, there will be more flooding events or high snow falls but also more drought conditions.
Sea levels will rise, but by how much will depend on how quickly we cut our emissions.
Even if we cut them right away the levels will still increase by two or three metres, which will lead to once in a century coastal floods happening every year by 2100.
There is some good news from the report though.
With increased data and much better models, scientists can with a good degree of certainty really make far more accurate predictions, and know that net zero carbon emissions will really deliver.
Another good point is the analysis of the role methane, another warming gas like carbon dioxide, plays and how tackling those emissions, from the oil and gas industry, agriculture and rice cultivation, could be a big win in the short-term.
While it will be down to governments and corporations to make the wholesale changes needed to tackle this crisis, we as individuals still have our part to play.
Governments and companies only act when pressure is put on them.
Here’s a few things we can all do to help that along:
Look more closely at the items buy.
How environmentally friendly are they?
Is there an alternative to your favourite brand that is better on the environment?
You don’t have to buy new all the time.
Make use off the social media “marketplaces,” use the thrift shop once in a while, and above all buy as local as you can, as often as you can.
Look at where your savings, investments and pension are going.
It might not sound like much but it can be super effective if money goes to more environmentally friendly companies and away from the high polluters.
Think about donating to organizations that can make real change or fight for the environment.
Avoid flying where ever possible. With the advent of Zoom and virtual markets etc., companies should not have to have their annual “get-togethers” on the other side of the country any longer.
I know those white sandy Mexican beaches are so tempting every year, but try and cut back to once every few years, and try exploring our own great country in-between.
With the report highlighting the importance of methane, now more than ever is a great time to cut back on that red meat.
Last but not least, we are facing a federal election.
Every vote will count and the environmental crisis should be the number one issue. Look closely to see where each party stands on the environment and what our local representatives will bring to the table too.
Vote accordingly. With the release of this climate report, the next annual UN climate change conference coming up later this year will be the most important since the Paris accords were signed in 2015. We need the right people at that table.