It’s hard to know where to begin on an issue as vast and complicated as climate change. The biggest existential threat to life on planet earth as we know it is unfolding all around us. But given the state that the world is in right now, you’d be forgiven if climate change isn’t always at the forefront of your mind.
It’s on ours right now – maybe these stats will get you thinking too:
- Since 1906, the average global surface temperature has increased by 0.9°C — and even more in polar regions. This represents the fastest rate of global temperature increase for 10,000 years.
- In the last 40 years, the average area covered by summer sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk by at least 40%.
- More than one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction due to climate change, alongside other man-made factors.
- Soberingly, the worst effects of climate change could be irreversible by as soon as 2030 according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 report.
You’ve got my attention. How did we get here?
Greenhouse gas emissions are the primary culprit. The most abundant of these is carbon dioxide, followed by methane. Greenhouse gases trap the sun’s energy (read: heat) in the earth’s atmosphere, surface and oceans. This is a naturally occurring process which helps to sustain life on Earth, but man-made emissions of greenhouse gases – which come from burning fossil fuels for electricity and heat production, farming, industry and transport – have risen dramatically in the past 250 years. In fact, since the mid-1700s – the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when Europe and the United States began manufacturing en masse – the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 40%, and the amount of methane by 150%.
When it comes to emitting greenhouse gases, we’ve only picked up the pace in recent decades. Of all the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide from 1750 to the present day, approximately half were generated in the last 40 years. And since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7°C.
Climate change is the result of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. But it doesn’t just mean rising temperatures – there are other profound consequences like more extreme weather events, rising sea levels and accelerating ice melt in the poles.
Yikes. So what can we do about it?
Science tells us we’re at a critical point and that to prevent irreversible interference with the earth’s climate, we need to limit global warming this century to 1.5°C. This is the main aim of the Paris Agreement which – if you’ve been keeping at least one bloodshot eye on US politics (and who hasn’t?!) – you’ll know that Trump has pulled the US out of.
Climate change-denying, oversized-toddlers aside, most governments and world leaders know they need to act. Under the Paris Agreement, 194 countries are working together on solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of these gases in the atmosphere – but progress isn’t being made fast enough.
This is where individual action comes in.
We can reduce our personal carbon dioxide emissions (also known as our carbon footprint) by making lifestyle choices – reducing our meat and dairy consumption, travelling by planes and cars less, and eating more local produce for starters.
But the fact is that we all inevitably take part in activities that produce carbon emissions in our day to day lives – whether that’s through the food we eat, the clothes we wear or the energy we use. In fact, the average UK citizen produces 10.51 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
So reducing our carbon consumption is one way we can take individual action. Offsetting our carbon emissions is another – and helps to balance out the carbon emissions that we simply can’t avoid.
Hands up who remembers their mum always saying that prevention is better than cure? Well, carbon offsetting means supporting projects that prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere, or supporting projects which remove them from the atmosphere altogether.
Projects like the Zorlu Enerji wind farm in Jhimpir, Pakistan, prevent new carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere by replacing energy from fossil fuel burning with renewable energy straight from mother nature.
Protecting areas of the Amazon rainforest in Peru prevents and reduces emissions by putting a stop to deforestation – which after fossil fuel burning, is the next leading cause of rising emissions.
Installing biogas digesters and cookstoves in rural areas of Sichuan, China prevents carbon dioxide-emitting coal and wood from being burned, and reduces emissions by converting methane into biogas, which can be used as an alternative fuel as well as a nutrient-rich fertiliser.
Funnily enough, you can support all of these projects when you offset your carbon emissions with tickr.
Through our carbon offset subscriptions, you can literally take climate change into your own hands – supporting projects that reduce, prevent and remove carbon emissions. Each project is independently accredited by either Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard – industry leaders in verifying and measuring the amount of emissions prevented by carbon offset projects.
This is where individual action shines. We believe the more people choose to offset, the more governments have to pay attention. The powers that be are hesitant to tax carbon usage – choosing to offset shows that as consumers and as voters, there is an appetite to tackle climate change and reduce and remove emissions. So our personal choices can help to shape a fairer politics too. We can’t think of a better time to start.