The acceptance that climate change is both real and human made has been growing steadily. Still, in many ways, that acceptance isn’t growing fast enough. And with other pressing issues occupying our collective consciousness, we’re left wondering: is any action that we can take too little, too late? The answer to this is a resounding no: we still have time to take action on climate solutions.
What we do know is, the time to do nothing has long since passed: we can no longer look away. Instead, it’s crucial that we as individuals learn all we can about climate change and discover what we can do to create change on a societal level.
So: What Exactly is Climate Change?
It’s a term we’ve all heard by now, but maybe you haven’t had a chance to clearly define what climate change means. That’s okay, we’re here to help:
Climate change can be defined as significant, long-term changes in the normal weather patterns found in a given area. For example, if a once lush area suddenly experiences very little rainfall throughout the next five years, this may be considered to be climate change. What sets climate change apart from standard weather changes is the duration of time. Weather can change in a matter of hours, while climate takes decades, centuries, and millennia to change.
The climate change we need to fight against is the human made climate change being driven by the pumping of fossil fuels into our atmosphere, creating a disastrous greenhouse effect.
What Are the Effects of Climate Change?
Some people might not take the threat of climate change seriously because they’re unaware of the implications; or, on the flip side, they think it’s too big of an issue for them to do anything about. However, with every year that the scientific community dedicates to learning about the impacts of climate change and that activists fight for climate action, the world has a clearer and more devastating understanding of what we’re facing if we don’t tackle this crisis.
Climate change leads to intense heat waves, long-term droughts, highly damaging floods, and destruction to the ecosystems that human beings are a part of. Climate change will reach every part of the planet.
We see the impact of climate change in the news practically every day. For example:
- Climate change is leading to rising sea levels (partly as a result of early snowmelt and disappearing glaciers), which is especially noticeable in coastal areas.
- The Great Barrier Reef is being damaged by the increased temperature and acidity in the ocean.
- All sorts of serious, damaging storms are becoming more commonplace.
If the world’s powers are unable to repair and reduce the damage caused by human made climate change, we could be looking at massive land loss in the future, destruction of farms, the emergence of new pests and diseases, the loss of forests and farms, and increased food shortages throughout the globe within the next ten years.
The Leading Causes of Climate Change
We are often taught that, as individuals, we can take little steps here and there to reduce the impact of climate change. While it’s a good idea to keep conserving energy and finding ways to reduce pollution where we can, the majority of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that contribute to climate change are put there by big corporations.
The following gases build up in the atmosphere to cause devastating changes to Earth’s climate:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Fluorinated Gas
If you’re wondering how these gases get into the atmosphere in such large quantities, take a look at the most major contributors.
- Electricity production accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Agriculture, forestry, and land usage make up an additional 24% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Industry and the mass burning of fossil fuels during manufacturing add another 21% of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
- Transportation, especially land transportation accounts for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- The construction of buildings makes up another 6% of emissions.
- There is an additional 10% that miscellaneous sources are responsible for.
As you can see in this percentage breakdown, the issue of climate change goes well beyond keeping the thermostat a couple degrees higher or lower. Fortunately, there are steps we can take as individuals to hold corporations and countries accountable for their actions while demanding eco-friendly alternatives.
How Can We Stop/Reverse Climate Change?
In order to stop and even reverse climate change, three principles need to be addressed, planned, and initiated together.
#1- Reduce the problem before it grows even more.
We can reduce – and possibly eliminate – human’s contribution to the greenhouse effect by:
- Demanding the use of renewable energy and greatly decreasing or even stopping the use of fossil fuels altogether.
- Incentivizing the use of wind turbines, water turbines, and solar energy
- Ensuring that these changes are implemented on a societal level, rather than simply relying on individuals to lead the initiatives alone.
- Demanding the adoption of laws against deforestation, while decreasing and rethinking the way that meat and dairy are produced.
- Reducing methane emissions from animals, as well as nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers.
- Reducing food waste (currently, we throw away approximately ⅓ of all food produced).
- Encouraging less ingestion of meat and dairy, more ingestion of plant-based diets.
- Organizing and advocating for environmental protection policies that defend ecosystems from being cleared for farming.
- Encouraging regenerative farming practices.
- Calling for the reduction of refrigerants or replace them entirely with eco-friendly solutions.
- Incentivizing recycling and more efficient industrial practices.
- Increasing motor vehicle efficiency, and calling for the adoption of more electric vehicles while promoting mass transit, walking, and biking for transportation
There is of course so much more. To see a full list of climate solutions, check out this comprehensive and detailed list.
#2- Support nature’s carbon cycle in the form of sinks.
Our forests and oceans are suffering as a result of climate change, and when they’re healthy, they do the best they can to help filter greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. If we advocate for stronger environmental protection laws, the forests and oceans can slowly repair the damage done to them and thrive once again. (You can read more about supporting nature’s carbon sinks here.)
Though forests and oceans do the work to filter out greenhouse gases, they cannot do the work needed alone, and pollution reduction tactics must be won and adhered to in order for this next step to be successful.
#3- Improve society as a whole.
By improving equality and equity around the world, we can inspire a greater quality of life for Earth’s residents, which in turn will lead to safer, more sustainable environmental practices.
For example, improving access to education and careers for women and girls will not only lead to healthy, functional, independent people but has also shown to be important in the fight for climate solutions.
Climate change impacts people differently, and though it should matter to everyone, marginalized groups are among the most negatively affected. Because climate change puts a strain on the housing market, healthcare access, labor systems, and community resources, vulnerable communities feel the strain far more than more affluent communities.
To make a difference in climate change, it’s important that we band together and demand that the corporations, countries, and industries responsible for this planet-wide damage be held accountable – all while building a new world based on equity, justice, and social change.
To make positive changes for our planet and our collective future, we can’t look away. Instead, we must act now.
Climate change has always been an issue close to our hearts at TESA. As a result, we have for a long time wanted to make tools that address this issue. So in the coming months, we will be sharing further free resources on climate change and climate justice, as well as developing multiple games on climate action and climate solutions.
One particularly exciting project we are working on is a partnership with Project Drawdown, FXB Youth Climate Advocates, and Trane Technologies to create a game about sustainability and renewable energy. As a part of this, we’re excited to team up the wonderful game designers and developers at Quillsilver Studio, who we have tapped to lead the core game creation for this game. Our current projected release for this game is early 2021.