Almost every time you look at the news, unfortunately, the headlines seem to be mainly doom and gloom. As a part of our Green Week, we wanted to look at the facts and figures and put you in the know about what’s next for our planet.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Lewys. I am the Communications Officer at Solar Plants. You’ll probably see me pop up in the bottom right of our website offering help via our Live Chat! As well as assisting customers on a daily basis, my role also includes researching, writing and continuously learning more about the ever-changing industry. I love being an advocate for ideas which can help to protect our planet.
The scientists’ predictions
What does the future hold for the planet?
Climate change has attracted huge media attention recently. With every scientific document published, we learn about what the future could look like and the environmental disasters happening weekly across the planet.
The landmark report published by the IPCC in October last year was a real eye-opener. With grabbing headlines, readers learnt about the likely consequences for the planet if global temperatures increase from 1.5 to 2 °C. Governments who are a part of the Paris Agreement are aiming to limit temperatures to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The difference between 1.5 °C and 2 °C:
- Coral reefs are due to decline by 70-90% at 1.5 °C and completely be lost at 2 °C
- Arctic sea ice would remain during most summers if warming is kept to 1.5 °C. But at 2 °C, ice-free summers are 10 times more likely
- Extreme heat waves will be experienced by 14% of the world’s population at least once every five years at 1.5 °C. That figure rises to more than a third of the population if temperatures rise to 2 °C.
Students take on the politicians
Student climate strikes have taken Europe by storm since Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist, solely protested outside the Swedish parliament in August last year. Greta has recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The organisation, Fridays For Future, recently organised a global climate strike on the 15th of March. Young people are posing the question: why should they study for a future that may not be there? Students are demanding action rather than philanthropy at conventions and summits.
It is estimated that there are already up to 70,000 schoolchildren participating in weekly climate strikes globally. Organisers said that at the last event over 100,000 students participated in the protests. Even teachers recently struck in the UK to show.
Some politicians are for and some are against. A prominent figure currently is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or ‘AOC’, a newly-elected Democratic congresswoman in America. She recently spearheaded the vision for a Green New Deal. The proposal’s main aim is to make the US carbon-neutral in the next 10 years and to create a green economy that can benefit all in society.
What is the impact on wildlife?
Humans only account for 0.01% of all life on the planet but have managed to cause the loss of 83% of all wild animals and half plants. As the human population increases, we need to progress differently in order to protect our environment and inhabitants.
We’re destroying rainforests for palm oil, causing marine heat waves which bleach coral reefs, eating more meat which emits greenhouse gases; 60% of mammals on Earth are now livestock. The agriculture sector is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Unfortunately, we are seeing numerous species heading from statuses of endangered to extinct too. We sometimes don’t realise what a big difference a small change can make. By tweaking our shopping and eating habits, for example, can have a huge positive impact on the environment. Our Market Monday blog discusses this in further detail.
After the hottest February ever, reports of insect populations collapsing, wildfire and flooding affecting our forests and coasts, it is surely time to become more conscious of our actions.
Can we make a difference?
WWF has an environmental footprint calculator on their website. If we can reduce our meat consumption, eat out less, limit our waste and eat local, we can lead greener lives. Click here to take the test – your results may surprise you!
A section within the carbon calculator looks at your carbon footprint from travel. The first question asks you about your main form of transportation — maybe swap your car or motorbike for walking, cycling or public transport. The second is about cars and an electric vehicle makes the list. Many predict electric cars could be as cheap as petrol and diesel vehicles within the next two years, even though some already are. Click here to read our blog about what it’s like owning an EV, with answers from EV owner and Solar Plants employee, John.
The next is about your home. We work with a lot of people who are aiming to improve the energy efficiencies of their homes. Our Self-Build & Renovation Department is constantly learning about what is the next big green advancement that will change the way we live. For example, new-builds are constantly looking at alternatives to concrete. If concrete was a country, it would be the third largest carbon emitter in the world.
There are 19 million UK homes which have poor levels of energy efficiency. If we adopted more insulation, LED lighting, double glazing and domestic installations of renewable energies, we can reduce our bills and environmental footprint. Over 2.5 million of these households are actually in fuel poverty in England, and this figure is increasing.
Many of our self-build customers, at the beginning of their projects, love saying that their goal is to build a ‘Passivhaus’. This is a completely voluntary building performance standard; building a home which requires extremely low-energy usage. By being so energy efficient, a Passivhaus only needs a tenth of the energy a typical British home would use for heating. They hold a higher standard than a zero carbon home and has huge long-term cost benefits because of low running costs.
As well as offsetting and capturing carbon, we need to make our buildings more energy efficient too. With a diverse range of policies, from renewables to building standards, we can head towards a greener world that benefits all.
The final section is about our consumerism. What do we buy and how often; do we really need a new laptop every 12 months? It doesn’t end at products, services are also included. If shipping and the internet were countries, they would be the sixth and seventh largest carbon emitters in the world, respectively.
In our Green Week, we have covered some of the changes that you can make to help reduce your environmental footprint – you can go back and read more about these on our blogs page! By being more self-aware, we can all make small green changes which will have a huge combined impact.
Global warming myth bust:
Would you bet against 97% of climate scientists? Because that’s how many have agreed that current global warming is being accelerated by human activity.
The rate at which the planet is currently warming is ten times faster than when the planet recovered from the last ice age 7,000 years ago.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has never been above 300 parts per million. After 1950, this has rocketed to the current level of 400 parts per million — with no sign of retreating.
We now have the data from satellites and technologies proving the direct correlation that increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions cause the Earth to warm.
Don’t believe us? Take it up with Nasa.