“Cold countries like Canada have to use more energy than hotter ones like India, don’t blame us”
“Other countries are polluting more because they are trying to catch up”
“Who doesn’t like hotter summers anyway?”
The naysayers brushing aside climate change action, or conversations about it, are taking your attention from the real problem. Everyday there are climate disasters, no matter how small or big, that are affecting animals, us humans, and our planet. Yet there are everyday actions and projects taking place or being developed at a rapid pace to try to stop them.
What actually is climate change?
In simple terms, it’s the destruction of life on Earth.
There is a natural cycle that takes place over centuries where the planet witnesses global cooling followed by global warming. The last cooling period was in 1400 and lasted till 1850.
Since the Industrial Revolution of 1850, we have massively accelerated the following global warming period, which threatens our survival. Human activity is making the planet “too hot”.
The global warming period which usually takes place over 400 years, or more, at roughly 1 degree Celcius, has rushed to 1.5 degrees in less than 50 years.
The biggest problem is our emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which raise the Earth’s temperature.
Today, the temperature increase stands at just below 1.5 degrees Celsius. If unchanged, current emissions would leave the planet 2.5 degrees hotter by 2030, creating irreversible damage to the climate and leading to catastrophic natural disasters and multiple species extinctions.
Hotter, wetter, wilder: storytelling the impact on wildlife and habitats
On the coasts of Australia, turtles are found caught in large fishing nets every day, unable to move or swim, stuck. Those in the sea are finding themselves increasingly displaced as their homes are destroyed over time by overfishing, plastic pollution, and rising sea temperature. All of which destroy a turtle’s marine habitat, such as decaying corals, and of course its food supplies.
Saving our seas: Innovative projects protecting our oceans
There are hundreds of projects being developed and deployed to try to rid the ocean of plastic and restore local marine habitats around the world.
The Ocean Cleanup was launched in August 2019 with a goal of ridding the ocean from plastic. It was masterminded by Boyan in 2011. After years of research and crowdfunding, it has deployed 10 interceptors in the Pacific and along different coasts to catch plastic. By the end of 2022, it had removed 2 million kg of plastic from oceans and rivers since its start.
With an initial crowdfund of 2 million dollars, there is a lot of hope behind the project as Airbnb and Samara just donated 25 million dollars to the organization to grow its systems.
Joining the fight, easy initiatives you can get involved with, simply by staying up to date:
- Bubble Barriers in the Netherlands, where a team has created a system to remove plastic from the waterways efficiently.
- SeaForester, based in Portugal, a team is aiming to plant thousands of seaweeds to regenerate coastal communities, capture more carbon, and make the seas healthier.
- Coral Gardeners, a team in French Polynesia aims to replant 1 million corals worldwide by 2025.
Stories of rising temperatures and wildlife
Breeds of penguins in Antarctica are going extinct due to the melting of ice. The cold puddles of water freeze the legs of baby chicks, who cannot avoid them and freeze from hypothermia. They do not grow into adult penguins, and they do not reproduce.
A similar fate is hitting young birds, like flamingos, in the Indian Ocean, where they fail to keep pace with the unpredictable winter days. It gets colder too soon, cold puddles freezing their feathers and weighing them down. Only few manage to take off and fly North to warmer climates.
On the other side of the world, in the North Pole, polar bears are being displaced from their natural homes on the ice and snowy hills. Rising temperatures in the atmosphere and sea are causing the ice to melt. Polar bears find themselves swimming in the ocean for days. The survivors are now found on the shores of Northern Russia fighting starvation and overheating.
These are only a handful of cases from the animal kingdom. Pandas in China, elephants in Africa, and monkeys in South America are all being affected by overheating and the drying up of water sources.
Carbon crusaders: battling rising temperatures and pollution
A new company named after the molecular weight of carbon dioxide, 44.01, aims to remove carbon permanently from the atmosphere by mineralizing it. This will help prevent the rise in temperatures to prevent the melting of ice caps. Its goal is to have mineralized 1 billion tons of carbon by 2040.
Around the world, there are several initiatives being taken to try to neutralize our use of carbon. In major cities, people are being encouraged to cycle rather than drive. Companies are adopting carbon footprints to make customers aware of how much they are directly participating in emissions.
We humans caught in the crisis too
Extreme weather is causing massive, worldwide destruction.
Last year, one-third of Pakistan (equivalent to the entire UK population) was submerged underwater due to severe flooding caused by the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. The country is now facing a public health disaster with the spread of water-borne diseases and food shortages.
Flooding also impacted 3.4 million inhabitants in West and Central Africa as homes and farmland went underwater.
Hurricane Ian slammed Florida, in the US, destroying thousands of homes and killing more than 100 people. There is a spike in hurricanes, known as “tropical cyclones,” because of the rising temperature of the oceans which increases as it absorbs carbon.
Across the Horn of Africa, there is a deadly, ongoing famine due to the lack of rainfall, impacting at least 36 million people who face starvation.
In East Asia, China witnessed its first national drought alert as extreme heat has continued across the South, averaging 40 degrees Celsius every day.
Meanwhile, wildfires spread across Europe and Canada as pine trees caught fire in the extreme temperatures over the summer.
The race to rehabilitate our environment: leading initiatives to restore ecosystems
Kheyti, an Indian startup, has developed a solution to help small farmers grow their crops sheltered from climate disasters. It also makes farming more sustainable with net zero emissions of carbon.
Locals around the world are working together to make biodiversity thrive again. In Belfast, Brid Ruddy has created the “Wildflower Alley” — a communal garden — an example of improving air quality and supporting local wildlife.
Similarly, in Venice, community gardens are being restored after being largely destroyed by flooding in November 2019.
Improving biodiversity and green spaces are important steps to balancing the world’s output of carbon. The more industrial and urbanized land spaces become, we must learn to support wildlife to help ecosystems thrive.
Hutan, an NGO in Malaysia, is an example of a project preventing the iconic wildlife of the forests of Kinabatangan from going extinct by improving human-wildlife connections.
Everywhere, we must continue to support causes to protect nature and minimize carbon output.
International collaboration is key to tackling climate change
Today, only 3% of oceans are protected by international agreements.
A beautiful example of underwater habitats thriving from protection against activity is Palau’s turquoise lagoons. Since 2015, a “no fishing” agreement was put in place by the nation, thousands of fish populations have returned to the area. This has strengthened the overall resilience of the entire marine habitat.
After decades of negotiations, the UN signed the Global Oceans Treaty, in March 2022, to protect 30% of oceans by 2030 from fishing, shipping, deep-sea mining or any damaging exploration. It is a massive victory for climate change activists!
Can you imagine how much sea-life would thrive if 3% of oceans became 30% protected?
More positive news includes the results from the international agreement to restore the Earth’s Ozone layer in the atmosphere. Known as the Montreal Protocol, the global agreement came into force in 1989 when nations banned the use of dangerous chemicals (chlorofluorocarbons) which were eating away at the ozone layer. It is expected to be fully restored by 2040.
Raising awareness: Channels to stay informed and engaged with climate change
- SeaLegacy co-founder Paul Nicklen, photographing impacts and solutions for the climate crisis, with a particular focus on wildlife.
- Earthly Education, an NGO posting weekly positive climate news on geoengineering breakthroughs.
- Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries on the evolution of our planet and climate change.