10 years ago, Friends of the Earth, were campaigning for climate change laws in ‘The Big Ask campaign’. The UK became the world’s first country to pass a law to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In the US, 2008 saw the election of Barack Obama who would go on to pass a range of laws concerning climate change. He himself stated that it was the ‘greatest threat to future generations’.
Ten years later, 2018 saw deadly floods and wildfires, with sea levels rising at their fastest rate and with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than ever before.
The UN stated that we are now in ‘uncharted territory’ with just 12 years to make a difference. And according to the World Meteorological Organisation, 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record.
What’s more, the man with the highest job in the world, President Trump, calls climate change a ‘hoax’ and removes the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Climate change has impacted every region of the world, with south Asian monsoons, sub Saharan African droughts, eastern European heat waves and Arctic ice melting at increasing rates.
2018 has seen the oldest and thickest sea in the Arctic begin to break up.
Further evidence of climate change:
Ten year challenge: 8 out of the last 10 years have been the hottest on record.
A scorching summer heatwave throughout Europe caused a devastating wildfire in the coastal areas of Attica in July. The second deadliest fire in history, with 100 casualties, and 4,000 residents affected.
2018 saw the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California. With camp fire in November being the most destructive in California’s history, with 86 causalities.
10 Year challenge: global floods and extreme rainfall have surged by more than 50 per cent this decade.
A similarly scorching summer for Japan resulted in extreme flooding. In July the disturbing floods killed at least 230 people and caused $7bn worth of damage. This was then followed by Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to hit the country for 25 years.
In August, the South Indian state of Kerala suffered severe flooding. It was the most shocking flood in Kerala in nearly a century, with over 483 casualties and one million people being evacuated.
No homes for animals
WWF states how global warming is likely to be the greatest cause of species extinction. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a 1.5°C average rise may put 20-30 per cent of species at risk of extinction. If the planet warms by more than 2°C, most ecosystems will struggle.
Tigers in the wild have declined to 3,200.
With the arctic warming twice as fast than the global average, polar bears are struggling to survive the summers.
Coral reefs are projected to decline by a further 70-90 per cent at 1.5°C. At a warming of 2°C virtually all coral reefs will be lost. It’s not only a tragedy for wildlife: around half a billion people rely on fish from coral reefs as their main source of protein.
No homes for humans
According to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, an average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced since 2008 due to climate-change-related weather hazards.
At the UN Climate Change summit, Sir David Attenborough stated:
‘If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon’.
The bad news is we knew the effects 10 years ago, and have failed to reverse the damage. But now, with President Trump denying climate change, and with Westminster and Brussels’ main concerns being Brexit, while China and India continue to prioritize global and economic development, climate change is no longer the priority it once was.
The good news is that people have woken up to the reality of climate change, and it is now up to them to make a difference by putting pressure on those in power to make small and efficient changes in their lives. Organisations like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and World Wide Fund offer ways to combat climate change, with research raising awareness and campaigns.
If we wait another decade before doing the ’10 Year Challenge’ again, it’ll most likely be too late.