Stunning Eucalyptus street tree in Hurlstone Park.  Trees will become immensely important as climate change progresses.

Stunning Eucalyptus street tree in Hurlstone Park. Trees will become immensely important as climate change progresses.

In Australia this day could pass you by because there isn’t much happening.

What I think is important to think about on this Earth Day is climate change because it is moving at an unprecedented rate with scientists thinking that it is too fast for ecosystems & humans to cope & adapt.

And it’s the rate of change that’s the big problem here. Human activity is profoundly changing the planet in a geologic blink of an eye—which is why scientists are worried that everything from migrating birds to fracturing ice sheets to coastal cities won’t have time to adapt.  If climate change were slow—playing out over millennia, as in times past—it wouldn’t be much of a problem.  Instead, in our world, climate change is happening very, very fast. As the United Nations’ leading climate diplomat said on Tuesday after seeing the latest NOAA data, the most recent record is a “stark reminder that we have no time to lose.”  http://slate.me/1NEJD2z

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration said that, “for the 11th straight month, the globe was record warm” with March 2016 the warmest March in recorded climate history.

Scientists from Australia’s James Cook University, University of Queensland & the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Watch Program found that sea temperatures are rising so fast that corals cannot cope leading to severe bleaching.  See – http://bit.ly/1QrjhB1   The Great Barrier Reef is in real trouble no matter Greg Hunt the current Environment Minister’s optimism.

93% of the of the reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef have experienced bleaching.  “…with as many as 81% of reefs north of Port Douglas experiencing severe bleaching.”  “We’ve never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once.” See – http://bit.ly/1Ql3Nyr

Loomis Reef, about 270km north of Cairns is dying right now. See – http://bit.ly/26gGOjz

Coral reefs in the northern hemisphere are also experiencing bleaching.  See – http://bit.ly/1T2uw4L  It is important to note that about one billion people rely on coral reefs for their food.

The NASA-supported National Snow & Ice Data Center says that Arctic sea ice “appears to have reached a record low wintertime maximum extent for the second year in a row….with air temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average at the edges of the ice pack where sea ice is thin.”  See – http://go.nasa.gov/1V542Fr

In March 2015 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa were 401.52ppm.  Just a year later in March 2016 they had risen to 404.83ppm.  In April 10th 2016 atmospheric CO2 levels reached 409.29ppm.  I remember when 350ppm was deemed the upper safe limit of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  That seems like a dream now.

Watch this short video if you want to see the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January 2014.  http://bit.ly/1VKqJyU

“Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.” ~ NASA

The Australian Museum says “An average temperature rise of 2°C may result in the estimated extinction of 20-50 per cent of the world’s species by 2030.  If this current trend continues, the figure could reach 50-60 per cent by 2100.”  See – http://bit.ly/1TmfJEz  Stop reading & imagine that just for a moment.

Finally, what is Australia doing about it?  The Climate Change Performance Index for 2016 is an interesting read.  Unfortunately, it shows Australia’s performance is “very poor.”  We rank last at number 59 for OECD member countries & third last at 59/61 countries for the Climate Change Performance Index performance rating.

So do we sit back & wait for the end to come?  I don’t think so.  Even though the bulk of emissions in Australia are caused by industry, we can create change by voting with our wallet & taking simple actions to lower our carbon footprint.

I know these lists can be boring & most of us know what we need to do, but how many of us do this all time time as a matter of course.  I don’t & a reminder serves me well.  Here are some things you can do –

  • Buy only sustainable products & ignore those that are not or have excess & unnecessary packaging.
  • Stop using plastic bags & carry your own bags to the shops.
  • Change to low energy light bulbs.
  • Switch off lights when you leave the room.
  • Turn off appliances when not using them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. It’s just as good.
  • Try not to waste water.
  • Install a water-saving showerhead.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Wash up or use the dishwasher only when full.
  • Choose energy efficient appliances.
  • Hang your washing out to dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Install solar power when you can afford it.
  • Install a solar-powered hot water system as well.
  • Reduce air leaks to seal in heat or cool air in your home.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Draw the curtains to keep out the hot sun.
  • Choose your energy company wisely.
  • Reuse & recycle as much as possible.
  • Compost what you can.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Buy locally produced food.
  • Walk, use public transport or cycle as much as you can.
  • Drive smoothly when in your car.
  • Keep your car tyres fully pumped up.
  • Travel locally without getting on a plane.
  • Clean your air-conditioning filter regularly.
  • Use air-conditioning & heating only when necessary & set the thermostat a couple of degrees higher for cooling and a couple for degrees lower for heating. A jumper or a quilt helps one to keep warm.
  • Start a verge garden to help cool the street.
  • Plant a tree or shrub on your property if you have the room.
  • Get involved in local events to green up the area.
  • Lobby local councils to force developers to design green apartment buildings.
  • Lobby local councils to significantly increase the urban forest.
  • Lobby our governments to take meaningful action on climate change.

Remember, every change or action we take we are doing it for future generations.  Our children, grandchildren & their children deserve an earth that is hospitable.  We cannot be the last generations that failed to do something.  Life on earth is far too important to ignore.  The planet can survive without human beings, but it would be far better if we did not push the situation so far that we caused our own extinction.

Kookaburra in the grounds of Newington College Stanmore.

Kookaburra in the grounds of Newington College Stanmore.

 

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