Climate change – how should we respond?

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Greta Thunberg (a young Swedish climate activist who first ‘striked’ outside her school) and the Friday’s for Future movement that has since developed, has certainly drawn the climate crisis into the forefront of public attention across the world. This is Greta speaking at Davos:

This week’s post aims to just offer a brief (and very much surface-level) introduction into considering the links between climate change, environmental issues more broadly, and development. Climate change is not just an ‘environmental’ issue but a phenomenon which is already affecting the life of humans (and animals) globally. It is often the poorest people in the world who are already experiencing the devastating impact of climate change. The ‘developed’ world is responsible for a huge proportion of global emissions historically and the most poor communities in the world are disproportionately affected, not only because of their location but due to their lack of resources and support-system to take on measures to protect them against climate changes. Part of the issue is that it has been historically ‘been managed as if it were largely de-linked from its social and environmental contexts.’ (Tanner and Horn-Phathanothai, 2014)

In 2016, the World Bank stated:

‘The poor live in uncertainty, just one natural disaster away from losing everything they have. We need good, climate-informed development to reduce the impacts of climate change on the poor. This means, in part, providing poor people with social safety nets and universal health care. These efforts will need to be coupled with targeted climate resilience measures, such as the introduction of heat resistant crops and disaster preparedness systems… without this type of development, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.’ (World Bank (2016)  Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty).

Whilst there are disagreements within the field of climate change, the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change is resounding. A 2013 research study by John Cook and others, which was built upon 4000+ academic papers over 20 years, concluded that 97.1% of climate change is anthropocentric – caused by humans. They concluded: ‘our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.’ Increases in greenhouse gas emissions are mainly the result of fossil fuel combustion, energy processes in the energy industry, and transport.

‘Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.’ (International Science Academies: Joint Statement 2005)

This graph shows the quick rise in temperature anomalies in recent years:

Image result for global warming sudden spike graph

This graph shows the distribution of greenhouse gases by sector:

This graph depicts the global CO2 emissions by area (do look at this closely). It’s noticeable that energy generation is the highest contributor to green house gas emissions, and continues to increase in its emissions. Why do you think this is?

As an example, EduSpots invests in solar power to ensure that free and consistent electricity is provided to communities and that we use a sustainable energy source. Solar power is expensive, however, requiring an initial invest of roughly £1000 (6000 cedis) per ‘spot’, the batteries do need replacing every 6 years, and we are continuing to work on training volunteers in local communities to use the equipment, and respond to any difficulties.

Image result for the world in global carbon emissions

The main areas that are of specific concern in relation to the impact of climate change on human development are: agricultural production and food security, water stress and scarcity, health risks, gender power, migration and economic impact. Some specific ways in which climate change is making an impact today (from 80/20 Development in an Unequal World):

  • The World Health Organisation predicts 250,000 additional deaths per year globally from 2030, with 38,000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48,000 due to diarrhoea, 60,000 due to malaria and 95,000 due to childhood under-nutirion. Climate change has also been linked to increased epidemics (e.g. to dengue fever and malaria).
  • In 2015 the Human Development Report indicated that in some countries drought could halve the yields from rained agriculture by 2020, with 250 million exposed to greater water stress in Africa.
  • The 2015 UN review suggested that ‘high sea levels and swells have already resulted in the displacement of people in a number of small island developing states including Kiribati, Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands.’
  • Moonsoons displaced 14 million people in India and 3 million in China (with the second highest death till since records began).
  • Almost 1/5th of the world live in areas where water is scarce; climate change is increasing this vulnerability.

This video offers three stories from Africa of how climate change is affecting individuals and communities:

This Guardian article gives some powerful photos of village on the Ghanaian coastline swept away by the sea:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/gallery/2016/oct/07/ghana-villages-destroyed-climate-change-in-pictures

The world’s poorest are ultimately more vulnerable to changes to climate. A 2015 report, From Decisions to Actions by The UN Conference of Trade and Development summarised the challenge: ‘ One of the great injustices in our world is that those that are more often the most vulnerable… as such they tend to carry the brunt of the cost of economic, social and environmental versus. For some crises, as in the case of climate change, this may even boil down to a question of life or death.’

The Sustainable Developing Goals replaced the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, placing a particular focus on sustainable development, with environmental concern and considering being shaped as existing within each part the world’s development rather than being seen as a separate issue.  In addition to this embedded nature of environmental concern and sustainable policy, several of the specific goals direct address environmental issues: for example, goal 7 is ‘renewable energy’, and goal 13 is ‘climate action’. Take a watch of this brief video:

It is clear that this area provokes and important debate about equity and justice, as those who are contributing the least to climate change will feel the effects most strongly, and have also benefited the list from the development that has taken place. It is also clear that not all countries have the financial means to move towards a low carbon sustainable economy, transitioning to the use of renewable energy sources.

The United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1994, and recognised the differing responsibilities of countries required to take action in reducing emissions. The Kyoto Protocol (1997) gave specific emission reduction commissions to different countries; however the USA failed to ratify it due to their concern that it would have a negative impact on their economic growth, and many questioned the lack of commitment required from all countries. Following this the UNFCC signed a a new agreement in Paris in December 2015 which  195 nations agreed to take action but with ‘differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances’. However, many countries still respond to climate change as necessarily holding a negative impact on its development, rather than recognising the economic opportunities that might arise from investing in sustainability energy sources and other methods of adaptation at this point.

For more on the Paris Agreement see here:

http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

Trump’s recently confirming US withdrawal from the Paris agreement:

So what can be done?

Many believe that urgent adjustments to ways of living are necessary in order to move on from the Paris Agreement to reduce global GHG emissions.Here are some suggested paths forward for countries:

  1. We need to move towards low carbon economies.

Many countries around the world are designing and implementing low emission development strategies (LEDS) that aim to achieve social, economic and environmental development goals while reducing long-term greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience to climate change impacts.

2. We need to not only use renewable sources, but consider what we use the energy for.

‘What would we do we 100% clean energy? Exactly what are we doing with fossil fuels: raze more forests, built more meat farms, expand industrial agriculture, produce more cement, and fill more landfill sites, all of which will pump deadly amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. We will do these things because our economic system demands endless compound growth, and for some reason we have not thought to question this.’

3. We need to change our capitalist economic system

Naomi Klein argues that UNFCC summit ‘started to seem less like a forum for serious negotiation than a very costly and high-carbon group therapy session’ where poor nations outlined the impact of climate change and richer countries ‘stared sat their shoes’. She argues that we need a corporate led ‘green-washing’ of private and public organisations, arguing that ‘the bottom line is that our economic system and our planetary system are now at war…. only one of these sets of rules can be changes, and it’s not the laws of nature.’

What can we do as individuals or organisations?

This list from the UN provides al starting point for changes or actions that can begin from your coach, home, community, or workplace (see below).

I personally believe that education plays a vital role in habituating people towards new norms – however, the pace of change that is needed clearly needs also government-level strategy that engages corporations into new ways of thinking. We certainly need to address that ‘sigh’ which accompanies people talking about the environment, and call people out when they declare that they are not interested in the environment – this, it seems to me, is just as an outrageous statement as declaring a lack of interest in human rights or discrimination; even if we are unsure of how to address the issue, it is clear that it does matter to the future of the planet.

TASK: Write a post explaining why many individual citizens view climate change as a fiction, or at least as an unimportant reality? How should we respond individually, and as a society?

Reading Suggestions

Tanner and Horn-Phathonathi (2014) Climate Change and Development 

Shiva (2005) Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Pace 

Wayne Ellwood (2014) The No-Nonsense Guide to Degrowth and Sustainability 

www.carbonbrief.org

www.guardian.co.uk/global-development

www.climasphere.org

 

39 thoughts on Climate change – how should we respond?

  1. Climate change, especially in the last decade, has become an increasingly important topic in the news. Many people tend to see this problem as either non-existent or not relevant and therefore this attitude needs to change. As we describe in Politics, this problem is a collective action problem and is particularly unique in the fact that is it both cross-borders, everyone contributes to it to a varied extent and effects everyone regardless how aware they are to solving it. Therefore spreading awareness, and maybe showing them the consequences directly to lives of individuals (such as rising sea levels and flooding) as to a large extent, individuals will be more prone to sympathising with humans that are affected, rather than those such as animals (given examples of ice caps melting for example). Everyone needs to help this problem, and ultimately there is no definite solution and end to this problem, if one country or group of individuals do not play their own part. Therefore, as civilians, it should be our duty to make others aware, and ensure that this problem is both not forgotten, nor dismissed by future and current generations, as soon we will have passed the point of going back.

    1. I hope I am not putting you on the spot, but you write about everyone needing to help and I would be keen to know what changes you are willing to make to your life to help? And what changes you think students in schools in general can make to their daily life at school to help?

    2. Agreed. People simply do not care about climate change because
      1. They don’t have the knowledge to understand what climate change truly means
      2. World leaders, politicians (not gonna name shame, but you know who)themselves denying global warming/climate change for their own benefits.
      I find the reasoning some people give behind denying climate change appealing and it’s denial towards blatant facts. At this point, there’s no point in educating the public because there are those who are too dogmatic to accept the truth. Tackling climate change is a group effort, a tricky one too, because it requires everyone, including these people to pull their weights. Our only hope is for those who are willing to listen to do what they can to tackle climate change, with immediate and drastic changes to their lifestyles. But as for how effective that would make it… I do not know. Only time will tell.

      1. I agree, tackling climate change is a group effort and only time will tell if what we are doing is enough but that doesn’t mean we should stop and give up.

  2. Climate change is one of the few scientific phenomena that faces the most denial responses. This is probably because admittance would mean some restrictions on our otherwise unnecessary daily habits, and overly monetary drives.

    On the contrary, climate change is no less a scientific fact as is the law of conservation of matter: It’s the rather clear observe that, our climate conditions are increasingly changing because temperatures are on the spurt, and temperatures are on the spurt because the greenhouse effect -a necessary phenomenon that keeps the earth just warm enough for human survival – is being enhanced beyond normal thresholds.

    For dwellers of Northern Ghana for instance, the realities of climate change have begun dawning on them; as evident in irregular weather patterns and frequent floodings.

    But the most interesting thing about climate change is that, it takes more efforts to understand the phenomenon than it does to mitigate it. At the individual level for instance, a simple disciplinary habit such as remembering to switch off your lightbulb at day break is a great gesture towards climate change mitigation. This is particularly true in Ghana because over 90% of our electricity supply is from conventional energy sources such as natural gas. What this mean is that, for every unit of electricity we consume, an equivalent amount of natural gas is being burnt -with consequent release of Greenhouse Gases – at the numerous thermal power generation sites. Therefore, efficient use of energy in our homes not only saves us a Cedi, but also ensures that no extra gas is being burnt to accommodate our wastages.

    Really, governments and intergovernmental responses aren’t enough to yield the desired results until each and every one of us is aware of the environmental implications of every bit of our daily choices.

    When you choose to walk to town for instance, rather than ride on a fuel consuming motor bike, you save the earth tonnes of methane that would otherwise have been released to enhance the greenhouse effect.

    So beside the much popular interventions of encouraging afforestation and discouraging deforestation, renewable energy and energy efficiency are the keys towards climate change mitigation.

  3. It is always easy to dismiss that which we lack the experience to understand. Most of us do not see damage caused to the environment to provide us with our food, clothes and entertainment. As such, even as we realise the number of plastic bags we use and visualise the landfill space it would occupy, we do not think of the other impacts of their production like the carbon footprint and the processing of the industrial waste.
    Climate change is something which is talked about so often we can feel desensitised but it seems like something separate to our experiences.
    As a society we need to hold corporations as well as ourselves responsible for what is being done both in our names and for profit. We need to pressure manufacturers to be transparent about the problems that they contribute to and we then need to look critically at the things we think that we are entitled to.
    Small changes are important, like stopping using plastic straws and using public transport but ultimately every time we buy a phone, a new outfit, a handy ready-meal or almost anything, we are contributing towards financing the destruction of our planet.

  4. Like many things that circulate the media, people get bored. The fact that efforts to stop climate change do not always come about with immediate results can also make it hard for people to understand how important the problem is. As this post has shown, some of the worst side effects of climate change happen far away from were we live, so the impact also is not entirely obvious.
    It is interesting to see that in Europe the least amount of CO2 is produced. Perhaps this means that people feel they are already doing enough? It is clear that in a developed country, it is easier for us to make sacrifices to save the environment because we can do so without these changes having much of an impact.

      1. Having only recently become aware of the impact that global warming was having on developing countries, I think that if we were to spread awareness of these impacts of Climate Change, people would be very keen to persist for change as the we can see directly how the environment can greatly damage human lives. I think that raising awareness of this would make people more passionate about projects already set up to reduce environmental change.

    1. I agree with your comment on the media’s lack of interest in the topic, how would you suggest less developed countries reduce their C02 emissions, despite going through industrialisation?

  5. It baffles me how people can be so ignorant when it comes to climate change.
    Having lived in Hong Kong for so many years, typhoon signal 10 (the strongest signal) was a rare occurrence. Nowadays, signal 10 is dismissed as just another strong typhoon coming our way, ripping the city apart and causing thousands upon thousands of dollars of damage.
    And yet, so many people think that this is all a joke. All the disasters that hit others are nothing more than pure bad luck. They don’t believe it’s true, because it doesn’t affect them.
    A while back, I saw this guy on social media asking people why they claim global warming to be real, and claiming that “I wish global warming to be real because it’s freezing here”. While I had a good time laughing at the guy’s stupidity, I realize this was a reason why people refuse to acknowledge climate change, lack of education. People are simply too uneducated about the weather they literally think global warming only warms up the planet. I’ve also seen politicians calling climate change a bluff created by scientists to raise fear and leads to economic losses in the country, and that’s another reason, literally the first problem, but this bloke is much more influential.
    Believe it or not, climate change is real, and it’s up to all of us to do something if we want future generations live better lives.
    To sacrifice the world for economic gains is just pure selfish for future generations as it is very short-sighted. It’s up to all of us to stop ruining the environment so that the future generations can continue live on this planet just for a bit longer. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, live a bit greener, practice small, good green business practices can go a long way. But this can only achieved if we all do it together. This is no longer about aiding whoever is unfortunate enough to live in disaster zones, this is just as important to us as to those people. And we must act now.

  6. Many people either view climate change as fiction or as an unimportant reality for two reasons; misunderstanding and misinformation.

    Many do not accept climate change due to lack of effort to understand the facts as they back up their arguments by stating that climate change has been happening for millions of years, so for environmentalists to suddenly become concerned with the issue, is illogical. This misunderstanding is due to people not questioning the facts far enough. Yes, climate change is a natural phenomenon and yes, there have been periods where the UK has been an arid desert and other times where it has been at the edge of a glacial ice sheet. However, recently there has been a rapid and unrivalled change in climate. For there to be such a swift increase in temperature, and as it began around 250 years ago when the Industrial Revolution began, we could therefore conclude that human activities are causing climate change. Because people refuse to look more closely at this evidence, they allow themselves to believe that human induced climate change is not real and/or not our problem.

    The other side of this is misinformation. Rarely have I had a conversation with someone without at least one falsehood about climate change rearing its head. Many people utilise facts about climate change without any real research. Normally they hear the information off a friend or colleague and then fail to check whether these facts are correct. Those who do go to the effort to research about climate change often click and read the first article that pops up on their browser, not checking to see the reliability, origin or age of the source. Therefore, many spout out old, misguided or ‘shock’ statistics as reliable and credible data.

    These practises of incorrect understanding and not questioning information provided have led to many not caring or not believing in human induced climate change.

    So, how do we respond individually and as a society to this misunderstanding? Education. Individually you should start with talking to people about it. By questioning those who do or don’t agree with the concept of climate change will increase people’s awareness of the issue as the topic becomes more debated on a local level.

    On a societal level, we need to make reforms to the school syllabus. By incorporating environmental education into lesson plans, themes of stewardship and environmental care will be instilled into people’s minds, hopefully raising a generation of environmentally considerate and educated citizens. However, what should we do for the adults who refuse to acknowledge climate change as an issue? By increasing the number of television and radio programs, films, books and articles about the environment, more and more of the populace will be exposed to fact rather than fiction. If climate change is brought into the limelight, more will be willing to question and investigate further, dispelling misconceptions and half truths.

  7. I don’t believe that those individuals who view climate change as a fiction or an unimportant reality are ignorant but perhaps fearful of the way it may affect them or don’t completely understand the effects and consequences of climate change. Therefore, for them it may be easier to not face the facts and convince themselves that it won’t happen in their lifetime and therefore isn’t their responsibility to act on. This attitude may be exemplified and reinforced by influential people and even some geographers and scientists, who are seen as people who surely know what they are doing, by denying that it’s happening and that it can’t be mitigated and monitored because in fact it is now the normal.
    So both individually and collectively I believe education is the key. If we can ensure that people really understand the causes, effects and how it can be managed then it will be easier to enforce. However, this education shouldn’t just be from the mouth but from easily accessible sources too – books, films, articles etc, but without them being pushed onto people. These little changes and subtle education may ensure that people are exposed to the facts without feeling as if it is being forced down their throat and as if their being forced into a decision they don’t want to follow through.

  8. I feel as though, as a collective society, we could quite achievable lessen climate change by altering daily routines slightly. For instance, public transport as appose to owning a car. Media is the main source of communication between governments and the public. The media seem to be somewhat bored by the climate change stories, so, therefore, do not continue to release articles based on the issue. I think there is a level of ignorance amongst most people, and the saying of “do as I say, not as I do” is adopted. If people, collectively, were to make subtle changes to their routines, climate change would be reduced significantly.

  9. Many might think it is a fiction because of lack of information about climate (illiterate), I think there should be a way everyone would be sensitized about their environment.

    Many are less concern because of poverty, they do even have a choice. They will ask you, where to you want us to go, how do you expect us to solve the problem that is global (I.e. things we don’t have any idea about).
    It appears mostly abstract to them due to lack of knowledge and poverty.

    It is time we work collectively to sensitize the government of developed world to act on constitution or policy that will limit the release of green house gas as well as using the right policy to favour poor people at the receiving end.

    We should fight for people at the receiving ends to enjoy the benefits that will make their life worthwhile by providing good healthcare system, jobs, quality water through boreholes.

    Sincerely, this is a global problem that need every citizen to speak for the poor people that are ignorant about it not because the want to but because they have no choice.

    Finally, I believe every single government should have a spatial network in relating with other advanced country to help develop a policy that will allow the multinational company (engaging in the release of green house) to directly help the people at the receiving end to enjoy the benefits of their actions. Conflict will cease to happen, if the needful is done at the right time.

  10. Thanks to readingspot for this knowledge on climate change.
    Truth be told, most people in cities are not directly affected by climate change and are therefore less concerned about it, the big cities only remember climate change if the rains are delayed as at when due or when the weather is unfavorable.
    To make the world see the impending dangers of climate change we need to increase advocacy especially through visual media, I was able to understand climate change more from the video showing the effects from three different places than when I was only reading through the post.

    1. I definitely agree with you as evidence show us the people most affected my this change in climate are not those in developed urban areas. It affects the poor and vulnerable often situated in rural locations.

  11. Climate change is arguably the most important issue facing us in the 21st century. It will not only have an impact on our environment but will lead to many economic, social, and political problems. Even with all the strong evidence suggesting the link between human activity and climate change, not much has been done to try and stop and even prevent the problem. I belive this to be due to various factors. Firstly we as citizens are largely influenced by our government and often just accept rather than question information that is given to us (such as from the media). Major countries such as the USA with leaders who do not believe in climate change then make it hard for there to be a change. Furthermore we are creatures of habit and for many living in the developing world who are not directly experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change, it does not seem necessary to make an effort in reducing carbon emmisions. I also belive that the people who have the power are usually of an older generation who do not view climate change as an important problem as they believe it will not affect them in their lifetime. I however think it is important for us to decrease the amount of carbon emmisions as even if they will not lead to climate change in terms of global warming I know that the complex system of our atmosphere is very sensitive. Therefore such an inhanced greenhouse effect will surely lead to devastating impacts.

  12. Many people believe that climate change is either fiction or an unimportant reality because throughout time there have been major fluctuations in the temperature of the earth. The most noticeable event being the ice age, where temperatures were so low that many places were covered in ice sheets. Thus people view climate change as a natural event which man cannot control. However, despite not being able to put a stop to it, we can have a major impact on the rate in which it happens. We just have to look at how global average temperatures have increased over the years along with the increase in natural gas emissions. The emission of such harmful gases is definitely something we can as a society reduce. As technology further advances, the use of non-renewable energy sources will decrease, thus allowing us to lower our natural gas emissions and hopefully slow down the rate of climate change.

    1. I totally agree with you that climate change is easily dismissed as something else, and it’s very unfortunate that this myth has been perpetuated across large sections of our society. In your opinion, are facts alone powerful enough to make people change their preconceived notions about the origins of climate change? Will this be sufficient to make people want to take action against it?

  13. I think that many people do not pay much attention to their environment because they all have different priorities in life. It may be to get a job, take care of relative or even make a name in the world. The only thing is that we do not consider the fact that if we want a world where we can safely breath, then there are certain measures that we need to put in place.
    I also think that we can all make changes in our communities by looking for more ecological products. For the past years, the rate of production of plastics have been willing to decrease but still, they are the commonly used. High levels of drought have been reached in some countries but it does not trigger us to improve on the agricultural part of their community.
    I thus think that we can start improving on our environment for it to help bring back a balance on earth.

  14. Climate changes is actually one of the greatest global issues which needs to be addressed with much concern. Unfortunately for us the struggle to subsidize it does not bring an immediate and significant effect unless after some years. It is also sad that it is a global problem that endangers life. However, it is not recognised by the majority of which I think, is ignorance. It is either they have no idea about it or they are being fed by the wrong information. Also, people usually do not see the direct impact of climate change hence, they turn to be unconcerned.
    Collectively and individually, education should be the first and foremost step I think we should take to help solve this issue. It will be good to tell someone to tell the other and with that continuous chain help to create awareness.
    We can also use the media to share information and advertisements concerning climate changes since media currently is one of the most influential platforms.

    1. I fully agree with your comment about how education should be our priority concerning global warming, and what you said about a “continuous chain” to help with awareness is a great idea! All of us who have the capabilities to share information online should also try to take responsibility to bring more awareness to these issues, but talking to people about climate change and it’s impact on the lives of others is equally as important.

  15. I would say that one of the reasons why some people see climate changes as fiction may be due to ignorance or inadequate knowledge about climate changes.
    Personally, I have had an encounter with a group of people old enough to be my parents and even grandparents about climate changes.
    I remember that somewhere last year,our president place a barn on the rate of fishing in Ghana due to our climate and not wanting to extinct the fingerlings.This brought about a whole lot of arguments; I was privileged to speak to some elderly people in my neighborhood about this issue and per my survey, most of their reasons were based on what they were taught by their parents and nothing related to modern life nor education.
    As an individual who wishes to impact her community in diverse ways, I decided to educate my neighbors on climate change and how it could affect fishing if we should continue fishing at the same rate as we used before…It went a long way to change some of their mindsets about climate changes.
    This is not the only instance of ignorance to climate change. There are also instances where people attribute climate changes such as extreme drought to strange things like curses…
    I strongly do believe that we could help curb this by educating the immediate people around us.

  16. Due to climate change being so frequently in the news and the media, it has become somewhat of an automatic response to switch off and ignore what the news is trying to tell us. Because many in the Western world (the USA and Europe in particular) don’t feel the immediate effects of climate change, they deny it, or, at least, ignore it. But this selfishness and lack of understanding is very common , for example whenever I talk about how population growth is one of the main causes of global warming, and therefore we should have a responsibility to not have too many children, it is often received with a groan, and dismissed. Many people put their personal interests above what is needed on a larger scale (including myself), as they do not see its harmful effects on a day-to-day basis.
    Therefore, I believe that more initiatives should be enforced by governments to educate people, particularly young people, about how they can help reduce global warming, through making climate change an interesting topic to discuss, rather than something that causes disinterest and boredom.

    1. I very much agree eliza. I think that if the government educates everyone in a more interesting and engaging way, we will all be more interested and want to help. Giving lectures just scares and bores people, whereas being engaging actually makes people think and makes them want to help.

    2. I one hundred percent agree with you Eliza, with a variety of people it can be harder to get them engaged in climate change. How do you suppose we should solve this?

  17. People often do just dismiss climate change as this sort of fictitious construct, something created merely for the purpose of nagging other people. Now, I’m fully aware that this is not the case; but I do feel as though there are some extremely negative associations with anything concerning the environment. It’s as though people instantly switch off when they hear something environment related; which is, quite frankly, both shocking and outrageously appalling. There is not enough education within communities (this definitely applies to the UK) about how serious the issue of climate change actually is – it often gets sidelined for issues that seem more “pressing”. Little do people realise that climate change is one of the most pressing issues our planet is facing; the detrimental effect it is having on humans in the global society, as well as the sheer horror it’s future impact will bring, are so often overlooked. The topic of climate change has been trivialised, it has been ridiculed and it has been well and truly undermined. Unfortunately, people are not informed enough to realise how drastic the effects are; they are instead focused on these aforementioned decidedly more “pressing” issues as well as causes that they feel they can relate more closely with.

    As there are many people who have not yet properly experienced the consequences of climate change, it has become too easy for people to detach themselves from it. Instead, there needs to be a global scale push from people not only in countries affected by climate change; this would put far more pressure on governments, as well as companies to take up their social responsibility and look into alternative methods that could reduce the impact of climate change.

    As an individual, I believe it is important to talk about climate change; to start a proper discussion, one where the startling, indisputable facts and figures can be used to educate more people on the matter. Climate change and its impacts (including all the research into it) should be regularly spoken about in the education system, as well as being spoken about more frequently by governments; it should be spoken about on the news, it should be spoken about by influential people in society, it should be spoken about by me and you. This is so that people can finally come to the realisation that climate change is most definitely a pressing issue and one that needs to be addressed immediately.

    I also think it is so important that for big business, there is an emphasis on how investment in these sustainable alternatives could actually benefit companies; in the current capitalist society, incentives of prosperity do have to be kept in mind. Unfortunately, businesses will prioritise the economic stability of their company, not the social impacts or global impacts and if they are profiting from these factors contributing to climate change then it can be very difficult to convince them of how real the climate change threat is – this is quite similar to selective hearing!

    This is why I feel that the crucial element is definitely support for the cause and awareness; this provides the power in numbers, far more pressure should be put on governments to aid the global community in this matter as, ultimately, it affects all of us; this is not a national issue, this is something that the global community must come together on in order to protect this Earth, which is home to all of us and it goes without saying, to protect each other. The impacts can be mitigated, there is so much hope in this cause; there is so much chance and possibility for success – this is in no way a losing battle, but people also need to know that it definitely is a battle.

  18. It’s everywhere about the climate. Many turn to talk about the government when it comes to issues concerning the climate rather than working on it. I believe it is a big problem at hand and if care is not taken, we might all suffer the consequences together. If every citizen is willing to comply to working together to maintain a good climate condition, then the problem is solved.
    The government have nothing to do about the climate but we all do.

  19. I believe that climate change is so frequently talked about in the news and in the media that a lot of people turn turn off and ignore what the news is trying to tell us. Because many people in the west (Europe and the USA mainly) are not directly affected by climate change or global warming, they just deny that it is happening as a whole and just ignore it. This is selfish and stupid but unfortunately very common. I often talk to my friends and people at my school about global warming, population growth and other environmental problems at school and although a lot of my friends have the same opinions as me and agree that we should all do something to make a difference, many other people just sigh and say “here we go again, another lecture on climate change”. Many people, including myself sometimes, put their own needs, like going on social media every 5 minutes, above the needs of the environment and our planet, but this is because we do not see first hand, how it is affecting our planet on an everyday basis.

    I also believe that many people are scared to accept what is happening to our planet. I think that a lot of the time, especially in the western world, a lot of us are educated on the problems of climate change and population growth, but we don’t want to believe that it is true and so we deny it and ignore it. We think that if we pretend it doesn’t exist then it will just go away. But this is not how the world works.

    We need to stand up for what we know is happening and we need to start trying to make a difference instead of ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist because at the end of the day, that is not going to get us anywhere and it is not going to help the problem.

    I think that governments need to continue to educate people on the effects and causes of climate change but also show people how to do it. At the end of the day, picking up rubbish on the beach in your town might not make a massive difference to the entire effect of environmental problems but it will make a start and it will help your town and it will inspire others. If everyone does their bit each day, the world will become a better place, but only if we ALL try.

  20. I think the reason so many people dismiss climate change as unimportant or unreal is because we don’t feel the effects of it in our daily lives. We only hear about it in the news, which we have become desensitised to. This is especially true for people of our generation, who have been hearing about climate change being a huge problem since we were little. We see it as part of life, as we have no knowledge of how it was before.

    Individually, we should aim to both do what we can to prevent climate change, and try to influence others. One person making an effort will, to be honest, not make a big difference. Even thousands of people making an effort won’t make a huge difference. However, if we can convince big companies to make an effort, the difference will start to be noticeable. A Carbon Majors Report says that since 1988, more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions have been produced by just 100 companies. If the population in general becomes more aware of this, we may be able to use public pressure to get them to reduce their emissions – if not for the sake of the environment, then for the sake of their reputation.

  21. Write a post explaining why many individual citizens view climate change as a fiction, or at least as an unimportant reality? How should we respond individually, and as a society?

    Sadly with issues such as climate change people as individuals tend to have the general reaction of complacency. As to why exactly this is I am not sure, but I could assume some reasons why that could contribute to such a mindset, for one, the effect of global climate change is not something perceived as immediate by the masses, I believe the complacent attitudes are based upon the fact that climate change is far too far away in comparison to our busy and scheduled daily lives to be an issue at the forefront of our minds and our thinking. When we think climate change- yes we think of all its consequences, but nothing sever will display itself until the effect is sitting by our doorstep begging to be noticed. It could also be a simple lack of communication or awareness in certain areas that promotes individual complacency and allows people to adopt such an attitude when facing the stark severity of climate change.

    The general thinking borders two lines: “If no one else cares, then I won’t bother, it can’t be that bad otherwise people would say something”

    or rather “Climate change is simply too far away for me to deal with it, I’ve got a life to get on with, I don’t see the effects in my life as an individual so why bother”

    It’s the development of such attitudes that we need to tackle as a society, otherwise we may reach a day where it all comes crashing down and we as a species are all too late.

  22. I think that, many of the people (if not most) that view climate change as a fiction or an unimportant reality mainly take this view due to lack of exposure to education. They may take this view as a result of ignorance, or even out of fear. When people are scared of something, they try to block it out, and I believe that we should all proceed with our futures with extreme caution, if not with a little fear. The lack of exposure or education simply leads to the ignorant view, these people may think that anyone who talks about climate change as an issue is just talking nonsense. Those that live in fear of it want to just ignore it and act like it doesn’t exist. However, there is also a completely selfish matter. There are people who know full well the effects and dangers of climate change, however, because of their social and/or economic status, they don’t want to do anything about it because it may hinder them, for example, people who are heavily invested in the oil or gas industry.

    I think that the best way to respond to these people, individually and as a society would be to educate them. Whilst large scale education can be very costly, it could also arguably be the most effective strategy of changing someone’s view. If you show people the damage that climate change is doing, and then also show them how easy it is to become more eco-friendly as an individual, it could make a collective huge impact across societies and groups of people. For example, if you teach someone that, simply unplugging your electrical devices when not in use, turning your lights off, or installing simple water saving devices in your home, they may realize how easy it is, and how little that change impacts their lives.

  23. It’s tempting to brush off people’s lack of understanding of climate change as simply due to ignorance, but doing so only puts the blame on individuals (and makes them more defensive) without giving society any incentive to develop other methods to compel people to take action against global warming. Fighting climate change is a unique cause to work towards in that there is much less of a tangible impact. Things that we do (even those in the longer term), are often associated directly with positive, personal rewards that we see as desirable (e.g. education in order to improve one’s career prospects). Let’s take social interaction as an example – we don’t act kind towards others simply because to create a more cohesive society – we do so because we want the interactions to be positive, and because we feel good doing so.

    In the same vein, in asking people to reduce their environmental impact, we’re asking them to sacrifice things that are dear to them like convenience (with single-use plastics) or personal preference (with red meat), which entail a direct, immediate loss of temporary satisfaction, in exchange for a vague promise of a better future, conveyed mainly through abstract statistics and scientific lecturing. If someone’s just had a long, busy and draining day, could we really expect this to compel them to spend more energy cycling home instead of driving?

    The solution to this lack of tangible impact, intuitively, is to provide tangible incentives to people to “clean up” their actions. Using government funding or even legislation, the display of more ads on the impact of climate change as well as what people can do to stop it (from the UN-compiled list as mentioned in the post) elicit a more visceral reaction from ordinary citizens than simply facts and figures. Similarly, the government could place a significantly higher tax on things directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions, such as petrol or high amounts of water and electricity consumption. This would given a direct, tangible incentive to people to change their habits. Policies that make it easier for people to reduce their environmental impact (such as better cycling and public transport schemes) also encourage people to take action. Finally, more publicity reflecting progress made towards a better environment would instil a sense of achievement in people, prompting them to continue their efforts. We already have a list of what individuals should do to help – with the above actions, we can ensure that they actually do so.

    On an individual level, the collective impact a change in behaviour can have can be significant. The UN list already provides concrete steps that individuals can follow in order to reduce their environmental impact, but the extent to which individuals comply with list is dependent on their willingness to do so, which can be influenced by their social environment. By actively making an effort to talk about green issues or trying out some of the tasks on the list, we cease to perpetuate the antagonist or at least ambivalent sentiment towards green issues that is so prevalent in society, and make being green a popular and socially-encouraged thing to do. This creates an atmosphere which promotes more green actions to take place, changing our previous ambivalence towards accepting climate change.

    By understanding that people’s dismissal of climate change stems from the lack of a perceived tangible impact, individual and governmental measures such as social encouragement, public education as well as legislation can be introduced, which tackle the root of the problem.

  24. Why many individual citizens could view climate as a fiction, or at least as an unimportant reality
    Climate change is a hard concept to grasp and apply ( hard for me too).

    It has yet to affect the majorities’ everyday lives significantly.

    The ways to help climate change aren’t easy to use in industrialisation (the main source of emissions)

    How should we respond individually, and as a society?

    We could make a big impact by having awareness and action.

    It could be simple, we are all consumers and customers whose demands of environmentally friendly products can cause more businesses to veer towards that way.

  25. There is no doubt that climate change is one of the most important problems that affects every country globally. In society we have an issue with dismissing things that are not causing a problem in our daily lives and the massive lack of education people have on the matter. Climate change could be reduced if every person did something little to save energy whether that be walking to work for a day however, the recognition of climate change is not helped by certain leaders of various countries completely discard the problem that could affect many generations to come. As we have social media and the technology, this would be the fastest way of something spreading and increasing the education. I believe that all children should be informed about the major dilemma of climate change so that they are disciplined in a way to save energy a reduce carbon emissions. People should also be informed in what they use their energy for as it says above and if they’re using it efficiently which will not only hopefully reduce climate change but also help everyone save money. As for the older generation and government they have the most amount of power and authority of this matter however some do not see it as an immediate concern. But when it comes to other generations I fear the impacts will be devastating.

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