The climate on our planet has always been variable. However, these natural cycles have occurred over thousands of years allowing ecosystems to adapt. What makes human induced climate disruption so dangerous is the speed at which it occurs. The main cause are CO2 emissions, a waste product of our fossil-based energy system that we started to dump in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. Other contributing factors are deforestation and methane emissions from our livestock. The international scientific community is 100% settled on this, contrary to what one might read in certain media.
The consequences are increasingly noticeable in the form of higher temperatures, sea level rise, ocean acidification, more extreme weather events such as floods and droughts and deadlier storms. Also social consequences such as the Syrian and African refugee crises have been linked to climate disruption by some. Unless we dramatically change course, we may well be on track for a 560 parts per million (ppm) concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, amounting to a 4 °C increase in global average temperature over pre-industrial levels. Such a scenario would prove catastrophic for human health and wellbeing, an existential threat to civilization as we know it.
To limit the worst effects of global warming and stay within a safe operating zone for humanity, leading climate scientists recommend to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels to 350 parts per million (ppm). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that if humanity wants to limit global warming to 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, the remaining carbon budget from 2011 onwards is around 485 billion tons of Carbon (PgC). The international community has agreed to stay below 2 degrees in the 2015 Paris agreement. This limitation has major implications for our economy and energy system, but also for our political system. In other words: “Climate disruption changes everything“. For further detailed reading on climate science, we recommend the website of NASA or the website by John Cook and his team. The latter includes more details and effectively debunks all arguments some skeptics use in their denial of this existential problem.
As climate is affected by so many factors, the sustainable solutions we look for span a wide range of topics. They include initiatives that increase awareness, trigger policy change, stimulate the use of renewable energy, keep fossil fuels in the ground, sequester carbon, contribute to reforestation, change nutrition habits, reduce methane emissions and – perhaps surprisingly – alternative monetary systems.
Click here to view our climate solutions.
Picture: Copenhagen’s climate solutions include better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure