Sir David Attenborough presents the Dangers and some of the solutions. The title of the documentary is somewhat misleading, as the planet will continue to survive the real question is whether or not humans will exist in significant numbers or not.
What kind of Climate Change is going to happen in the next 100 years? The MET climate models calculate that global temperatures will continue to increase with a range between 1.5C to 6C. 2C increase is pretty much now a given in the next 25 years. The big scary question is how much higher will it go, the answer depends highly upon human activity. According to this BBC documentary “half of the carbon released into the atmosphere comes from human domestic activities”. Full BBC Documentary: Can We Save Planet Earth (59 minutes)
David Attenborough asks you to meet “The Carbons” a fictional yet typical Western family and their carbon use. Their home is powered by an electric grid which in turn is powered by fossil fuels, their two cars (powered by fossil fuels), emit a substantial amount of carbon 10 tons of carbon a year per car.
Another significant carbon factor contributor that most people don’t think about is that 10% of their carbon emissions come from the transportation of food being delivered from non-local sources.Additional carbon is also produced by their trash and waste as it decomposes in landfills, which releases even more carbon. After pleasure and business air travel is added to the Carbons total they will have contributed 45 tons of greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere per year.
Along with increased temperature comes the addition of an increase in extreme weather events, flash floods and extended droughts . Previously constructed cities, towns, sea walls, housing and business structures that functioned adequately for even 100’s of years may be unable to deal with the increasing frequency of 50, 100 year floods etc. That puts entire regions at risk that were built near sea level, like the Gulf Coast of the USA, large portions of Florida, New Jersey, New York etc.
The Katrina Hurricane damage and death toll was a good example of what happens when technology such as multiple levees which had functioned quite well since the 17th Century are now no matched to deal the hurricanes and flooding that are now occurring, many of which are even much more powerful than the one that hit New Orleans.
Australian bush fires are increasing in frequency and severity, previous methods of containment are not proving to be adequate protection for homes and businesses.
Record heat in 2003 kills 10’s of thousands in Europe.
The northern Arctic ice cap in the last 20 years has been reduced in size by twice the size of Texas, or five times the size of the United Kingdom, which easily qualifies as a remarkable pace for loss of sea ice. In 2002, at the south pole the Antarctica Larsen B ice shelf (larger than the entire US state of Rhode Island) totally disintegrated over the course of two months.
The problem is that white ice helps reflects the sun’s energy back into space, dark colored ocean without ice absorbs more of the sun’s energy, which increases warming.
The climate is changing so rapidly that many species of animals and plants are having great difficulty adapting to the quick changes in their local environment, and in many place don’t have the luxury of being able to migrate elsewhere.
In 2005 some Amazon rivers ran dry, which by definition should not happen in a rainforest. Also fires have started to break out in the Amazon Rainforest, which previously had been relatively immune to such events. NASA studies claim that 3% of the the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed by fires in the last dozen years.
The loss of a significant percentage of the Amazon rainforest due to fire could easily be a major tipping point in the global warming story, that could occur almost over night.
The Western world has up until this point in world history been responsible for the largest contribution of carbon to the atmosphere, but that is quickly changing as China and India add more carbon producing amenities, China alone is projected to become the largest contributor in the next 20 years.
The Oceans of the world are currently absorbing up to half of the carbon being released, which in turn makes the oceans more acidic. As the majority of sea life lives near the surface this could also become another tipping point for humanity, as the basic building blocks of the world’s food chain on a microscopic level become stressed and threatened.
BBC Suggested Carbon Reduction solutions: Personal or household Carbon Reduction solutions
- Dressing warmer inside the home during the cold season in the home allowing less wasted energy having the thermostat turned up to high.
- Unplug electric Items that remain on standby power.
- Switch to more fuel efficient light bulbs
- Increasing home insulation
- Composting household waste
- Buying locally grown food
- Use more public transport, hybrids, electric vehicles and bicycles
On a larger scale support more public use of:
- Carbon free sources of power (solar, geothermal, nuclear, wind, wave, tidal)
- Carbon sequesters
- Tree planting
According to the BBC Documentary if nothing is done…without question a large percentage of the planet will end up underwater. Recent satellite data confirms that the Greenland ice sheet is melting twice as fast as previously thought. If Greenland’s ice cap melts completely ocean level worldwide will increase by 21 feet (7 meters). Water expansion of the world’s oceans due to increase temperature and melting land ice alone could increase ocean levels by 1 1/2 feet (1/2 meter) by the end of the century. As half the world’s population currently lives near sea level that increase in ocean levels would displace and stress a huge percentage of the world’s population. At risk to rising ocean levels: A large percentage of the US state of Florida, Bangladish (home to 100 million people), and New York city. Climate scientists predict that within 50 years 150 million people worldwide will be displaced due to climate change. BBC Documentary: Can We Save Planet Earth? (from Climate Change) Photo Gallery
EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+, Linked in or website