“Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.” Lord Stern, Davos 2013
Nicholas Stern’s 2006 report on the likely economic effects of climate change for Britain was decisive. His devastating conclusion – that climate change represented the “greatest market failure” ever seen – was a call to action.
Yet little has changed. Temperatures now stand at 0.6-0.7°C higher than pre-industrial averages, and 2012 was among the ten warmest years on record globally.* Many scientists see an increase in temperatures up to 1.5°C as a key “tipping point”, after which permafrost in Siberia will start to melt at speed, releasing a massive load of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.**
Such statistics paint a bleak picture. Climate change is a huge, complex issue – so massive that it can paralyse us and make us feel helpless. What can we as individuals do to make a difference in a global crisis?
Don’t give up. There are things we can all get involved in, from personal actions to campaigning and getting our voice heard.
The great thing about being involved in a campaign is getting to know a community of people who care about an issue as much as you do – so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, others will be around to pick you up again.
Here are some ideas to help you make a difference:
350.org: This is Bill McKibben’s global climate change campaign – 350ppm (parts per million) refers to the safe amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere (we’re currently at 392ppm, and climbing.) Get involved in global actions, on- and offline, to raise awareness about climate change. http://350.org/en
100 months campaign: Coordinated by a coalition of environmental and development NGOs as well as ethical businesses, this campaign was launched in 2008 to highlight the 100 months left to save the climate. With 45 months to go, get over to the website to learn how you can get involved and halt climate change. http://onehundredmonths.org/
We all know the basics: drive less, fly less, take the train; eat less meat, and throw away less waste, either by recycling or using less in the first place. But it can be hard to take the first steps in cutting your carbon footprint, and the range of changes we all need to make can seem overwhelming.
Why not start off by committing to just one change for a month? For example, you could have a low-meat month where you limit your meat consumption to once or twice a week. Or you could try cycling to work two days a week instead of taking the bus. Once those incremental changes become habit, you can start to look at other things in your life – and before you know it, you’ve made a big change through small, everyday actions.
Getting the message out there
If you’ve got something to say about the environment and climate change, why not make a short film for our film competition? You could win cash prizes and work experience at the Guardian or a top London production studio. We want to hear about your experiences as a young person in Britain. How do you feel about climate change and the environment, and how do you see your future?
For more information on how to get involved, check out the website: www.if.org.uk/filmcompetition