Often when discussing climate change, people mention two degrees temperature change. When the earth was last four degrees cooler, there was a 60 metre ice shelf where we currently live. The last time the earth was four degrees warmer, oceans were five metres higher. So two degrees is certainly significant.
The issue is, the two degrees is an average. In some places it is cooler than it was a century ago, and in others it is warmer, however, at the polar ice caps it is three degrees warmer than it was in 1900.
The issue is that if the polar ice caps melt, not only will oceans rise, but methane gas trapped in the ice is released. Methane has 34 times the heat retaining capacity of carbon, this not only contributes to global warming - it accelerates it.
Approximately 70% of the earth’s surface is water, absorbing heat and carbon which in turn affects water temperature, which affects currents, rainfall patterns and wind movement. Floods, droughts and food supplies are impacted dramatically.
In the 1970’s there were 660 extreme weather events recorded on the planet. In the 2000’s there were 3,322 extreme weather events. This is nearly a fivefold increase. These events aren’t coming sporadically, they are coming frequently and they are becoming increasingly violent.
Considering all this, it is fair to consider the following:
1. What will you do when your house, car, built environment and infrastructure are destroyed by extreme weather events?
2. What will you do when these can’t be insured anymore? How much are they worth? Who will buy them?
3. How will you get to work? Will you still have a job?
4. How much money can you keep giving to charity to assist those in need?
5. What are you doing to avoid this?
What can be done?
1. Change to 100% renewables as energy inputs to your house and workplace
2. Use public transport
3. Buy carbon offsets and environmentally responsible products
4. Print double sided
5. Turn off lights and computers at night
6. Employ recycling and waste management systems
7. Adjust the way you use heating and cooling
These changes alongside a robust corporate sustainability strategy which reduces and mitigates risks will positively contributes to a better environment.
To learn what’s next for sustainability, contact Tony Crabb, National Director, Research.
Read more of Cushman & Wakefield’s Futurology series, click here.