We all want to think of a world in the future to be a place where our kids and grandkids can grow up peaceful and happy. We want them to enjoy the same advantages as us, if not have more of their own.
The reality could prove to be significantly different. The climate is changing. In 50 years, unless we do something drastic, parts of the world that are now home to millions could be far less inhabitable. Britain will seem more like the Mediterranean, with summers around 40 Celsius. The crops we grow will change, and so will the way we live.
But it won’t just be the heat. The weather will be more unpredictable. Tornados, floods and more will become a regular part of the scenario.
The Best Scenario
Probably the best our grandkids can expect is the world described above. That can only really be achieved if we keep the temperature rise at two degrees or less. That’s the goal, but whether we can achieve it is another matter. It requires co-operation from all the governments and effective controls on polluting industries, as well as all of us doing our part.
More than that, it needs action soon. Global emissions have to be seriously cut by 2015. Two degrees is generally viewed as the “tipping point,” beyond which the Earth goes into irreversible decline. It’s feasible to keep things at that, since it means dumping 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – which is actually a little more than we do right now.
At a three degree rise in temperature (450 ppm of CO2), we’ll see refugees fleeing deserts across Africa, Pakistan and all through the Amazon. That means millions of homeless people. The growing climate we’re used to in Southern England would move as far North as Norway. That’s just one degree higher than the best scenario possible.
Should we not act, and the temperature rises by five degrees (which will mean 650 ppm or carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, what can we expect (and if we do nothing, it really is possible over the next century)? No one knows for sure. But the best educated guess is that there’s a good chance human life might not survive. That’s not fiction, it’s fact.
People know about climate change, but not that many do much about it. If we’re to leave a good world for our kids and their kids, we all need to do as much as we can. It won’t be the world we knew, but it can still be good.
The more we know, the more we can do. Many schools teach about climate change – learn from your kids; after all, they’re the ones who’ll be directly affected by the actions. Sit down with them and make a plan to reduce your family’s carbon footprint. Have everyone contribute ideas, and make each family member responsible for some part of the plan – have everyone involved. Make sure you keep regular tallies of how you’re reducing that footprint, and keep working to make it smaller still. It’s unlikely you’ll ever be carbon neutral, but you can still make it as small as possible.