What are young people most worried about? We put their queries to the experts
How long until the climate crisis causes irreversible damage?
Ewoenam Tetteh and Faith Otasowie, both 15, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
You are obviously both smart and thoughtful kids, so I will be blunt and tell you that climate change is already causing big changes in our world. You can see this in the melting of the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica, in the rising temperatures in cities around the world, in the changes in how much rain we get, and, perhaps most importantly, in the extinction of many plants and animals that are not able to adapt.
One of the most important ideas to grasp about climate change is that it is not a future event: it is happening now, in real time, and those changes will only accelerate in the coming years and decades unless we radically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere (mostly from burning fossil fuels). Thats why we must take action now.
Are the changes we are seeing irreversible? That depends on how you think about it. For example, scientists know that ice sheets have come and gone many times in our planets history, driven mostly by slight wobbles in the Earths orbit that change the amount of sunlight hitting the planet (other factors, such as the eruption of volcanoes, have also played a role). So the ice sheets we are losing today will, in all likelihood, grow back some time in the distant future. But were talking millions of years.
On the other hand, when a particular kind of frog becomes extinct because it cannot adapt to our rapidly warming world, it is lost for ever. We humans are pretty smart and capable creatures, so I dont worry that well figure out ways to adapt. And maybe well even figure out ways to make it a better world.
But it will be a whole lot easier for us and for every living thing on the planet if we take action now to minimise those changes, both today and in the future. I really like the world we live in, and Im sure you do, too. It is a beautiful place. Lets fight to keep it that way.
Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, And The Remaking Of The Civilized World
Which animal farts are the worst for the environment? Shark, cow, otter or something else?
Sasha Dutta, eight, London
Scientists have published a surprising amount of work relating to animal farts and our climate. It has been hypothesised that large dinosaurs (the sauropods) may have changed the Earths climate with their farts. Sharks are rarely seen farting. But like sheep and goats, cows are a type of ruminant that is, they have four stomachs. This means a lot of methane, one of the gases that causes the worst warming. One cow can produce up to 200kg of methane a year. Most of it is released as burps, but some certainly escapes out of the rear end, too! Because humans eat so much beef and milk, there are an awful lot of cows in the world, and their burping and farting causes a sizable contribution to our greenhouse gas emissions, making up nearly a third of all emissions from agriculture, by some estimates. This certainly makes them a strong contender for the animal with the farts that do the most damage to the planet (even if their burps are worse).
Dani Rabaiotti, environmental scientist and co-author of True or Poo?, Quercus, 8.99
Why dont many politicians address the climate crisis and give us ways to help?
Georgia Robinson, 15, Poole, Dorset
Well, the good news is that nearly all politicians in this country accept that climate change is happening and that its caused by human activities; almost all political parties have now accepted that we face a climate emergency. This is an amazing change from just a few years ago, and its happened because of people like the climate strikers.
But declaring an emergency and being prepared to take the necessary steps to address it are not the same thing, and politicians especially those in government dont match their words with actions. For example, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, was championing the expansion of Heathrow airport at exactly the same time as apparently agreeing that theres a climate crisis in spite of the fact that air travel is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the problems is that most politicians wont accept that we need a very different economic model, one that recognises that continuous growth isnt possible on a planet with limited resources. We need to change our idea of what success looks like, so that instead of being obsessed by money, we measure human wellbeing and the health of our natural environment.
There are also vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Too many powerful corporations benefit from the way things are now, and many give large donations to political parties, asking politicians to resist taking action.
The good news is that ideas such as the Green New Deal are getting more support, as people recognise that investment in a green economy provides decent jobs and a better quality of life, as well as a more secure future. The role of young people in keeping up the pressure is vital your generation is making a real difference. But we dont have much time.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, was elected as the UKs first Green MP in 2010
If someone doesnt believe in the climate crisis, what can I do to help them see it?
Olivia Liddell, 14, Hemel Hempstead, Herts
People who dont see climate change can be frustrating because the scientific facts are so clear. But, as youve probably discovered, facts dont always help people see the reality. If anything, bombarding people with facts makes them more sceptical and argumentative. So, what else can you do? Here are three things.
First, its really important to acknowledge the other persons good nature, and to identify common ground and shared values areas where you have agreement. Just because someone doesnt believe in climate change, it doesnt make them a bad person. You probably both care about things like family and other people. Affirming shared values reduces the feeling of being attacked; being argumentative rarely succeeds.
Second, invite people to think about their legacy how their grandchildren and future generations will react to their actions (or inactions). If they are willing to acknowledge even a small chance that climate change is real, dont they want to be on the right side of the argument?
Finally, be really clear that climate change matters to you, that you are personally worried about it, and that you are asking them to help address it because you are scared. Friends, family and others are much more willing to help when they realise something is important to someone they love, even when they may disagree about the facts.
How can we use technology to stop the climate crisis?
Daisy Furmston and Chloe Nolan, both 14, Hemel Hempstead
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
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