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The vast majority of scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. Some have begun using a new term, ‘anthropocene’, to describe the period of Earth’s history where humans have had a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. So, we’re super successful, right? Unfortunately, across the globe, this impact has been largely negative.

Without serious changes to our ways the predictions of devastating climate chaos that will exact suffering on large swathes of the population are almost too scary to consider. But we must. Take a look below at a quick timeline of climate change. See how long we’ve been aware of it and what we think it will cause in the future. Remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

A Climate Change Timeline

Use the scroll bar or swipe below to explore.

Sources

Past: The History of Climate Science, John Mason (June 2020), https://skepticalscience.com/history-climate-science.html

Present & Future: A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future, Sir David Attenborough (Nov 2020)

1822

Joseph Fourier first theorises that the Earth's atmosphere traps a portion of solar radiation (what we now call the greenhouse effect).

1856/9

Eunice Foote and John Tyndall, apparently unaware of each other, become some of the first scientists to study the warming effect of sunlight on different gasses.

1938

Guy Callendar observes and records proof of warming.

1957

Roger Revelle and Hans Suess write that "human beings were now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment".

1990

First Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that future warming is 'likely'.

1997

Kyoto Accord is created to attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitter at the time, the US, refuses to sign.

2001

Third IPCC report says future warming is now 'very likely'.

2007

Fourth IPCC report shows that global warming is already having alarming effects.

2015

Paris Climate Agreement reached. It is signed by almost every country, even the US.

2017

The Trump administration vows to withdraw the US from the agreement (come on guys, why always you?).

Today

Currently, we extract 80 million tonnes of fish each year. 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. 15 billion trees are cut down a year, mostly to make way for livestock. Our bodies and those of the animals we eat make up 96% of all the animal mass on the planet. More than 10,000 people die from air pollution daily.

2030s

We see the point of no return for the Amazon rainforest due to deforestation and an ice free summer in the arctic. Both of these would cause a catastrophic feedback loop leading to the world warming more rapidly. Climate change quickens.

2040s

The permafrost thaws and releases, slowly but unstoppably, 1,400 gigatonnes of carbon. Nearly 40 times what we currently emit yearly. Climate change quickens.

2050s

The world's oceans reach toxic acidity and calcium carbonate lifeforms cannot survive. Coral reefs are eviscerated. Importantly, the diet of plankton, who absorb and lock in enormous amounts of carbon, is based largely on calcium carbonate creatures, without these the plankton die and less CO2 is absorbed. Climate change quickens.

2080s

Crops around the world fail due to warming and the overuse of pesticides and fertilisers. States already short on food are in an even worse position. Mass starvation occurs.

2090s

More than 2 billion people live in areas with air pollution above the WHO's "safe" level.

2100s

More than a billion people are faced with the prospect of chronic flooding. A quarter of the population of Earth now live in areas with average temperatures over 29°C - temperatures that occur in the Sahara today. Human migration like never before in history.

Onwards

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on you position on depressing statistics), most projections stop at the end of the current century. One thing is clear, if we're unable to stop these events from happening the planet will likely see it's sixth mass extinction event.

↞ Past Discoveries

Future Predictions ↠

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While it is undeniable that if we are to change our ways governments and corporations must begin to enact ambitious environmental policies immediately, individuals have a part to play. Without wanting to sound like a workers union rep, these seats of power are only truly legitimised by the public. Around 7 out of 10 people in the UK want the government to make changes happen faster, with similar results seen across the pond in the US.

By taking part in this year of challenges and other climate initiatives we can send a clear message to those in charge. As a nice bonus, you can have some level of peace of mind that you are at least doing something to combat the issue. It’s important to stress that these challenges aren’t all that needs to be done even on an individual level, there’s going to be much more on the road ahead. So as much as this challenge might quench your thirst for climate action, don’t stop looking for other ways you can make more ambitious changes.

Average Carbon Footprint

Sources

How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, Mike Berners-Lee (2010).

Energy
28%

Transport
23%

Shopping
21%

Food & Drink
17%

Holiday
11%

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It’s a very valid question. Who am I to tell you what to do? Realistically, the answer is no one. I’ve not got a Ph.D. or 50 years of experience in the field. I would stress that my posts will never be an exhaustive list of the evidence or a cornucopia of scientific thought. I’m just someone that is interested in how I can change my life to reduce my environmental footprint, and as I’m also keen on data coming up with back-of-the-envelope estimates of each action’s impact.

With that said, I’m Adam a 22-year-old guy from Reading, and, if you want to know more, I like films, nature and digital technology.

FAQs

Take a look below at some of the questions you might well be asking yourself.

Why should we listen to you?

You shouldn’t. Well, not only me at least. To be honest, I would be perfectly happy for you to disregard everything that I say that isn’t referenced. Listen to the scientists who have done the research and written the papers. I am but a lowly funnel for their information.

What measurements do you use?

When possible, I will try to always stick to the metric system - it just makes more sense. Measuring certain things like greenhouse gasses is a little tricky, here I will always try to use CO2 equivalent (which measures each gas produced by their ‘global warming potential’ with CO2 equalling 1 unit).

What sources do you use?

The sources for all the posts and videos are referenced at the bottom of each post page. There is also various information around the site that is sourced where possible. If you need more information about anything and you can’t see a source for it anywhere, get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you out.

What sauces do you use?

Mainly ketchup but I’m also a big fan of English Mustard in a sandwich. Salad cream is a nightmare creation. Come at me.

When will they be posted?

A new challenge will be posted each week on a Monday. The exact time depends on when I wake up :)

How can I be notified about the challenges?

To be the first to find out about new tasks you can sign up with your email on the join page or follow me on social media.

What will you use my email for?

Your email will not be used for any other purpose than contacting you about these challenges. I currently use Mailchimp for my emails, so this will be the only third party your email is passed to. You can read my own Privacy Policy via the link in the footer and Mailchimp’s at their website.

What can I use your email for?

You’re free to use hello@climatechallenge.org.uk for anything you want. I’d prefer it if you just used it just to contact me but it’s a free country. What am I going to do? I would also like to suggest it as a really good idea for a tattoo.

What if I’ve already completed this week’s challenge?

Maybe you’re already vegetarian or have already done something else I’m suggesting this week. Luckily, there’s always more that we can be doing. Also, ooooh la de dah, get you.

Will it cost me loads of money?

A fairly common concern about reducing our carbon footprint is that we might not be able to afford to do so. However, equally, there are steps that will save us each a bit of cash. My aim is to only explicitly suggest you buy new products (e.g. a toothbrush or reusable cup) in one challenge a month.

Do you get paid to promote products?

Zilch, nada, nothing. Any products I suggest are either ones that I have tested and stand by or ones with positive independent reviews. If this were ever to change I will update this FAQ and make it abundantly clear when I suggest the product.

Did you run out of ideas for questions but thought the design looked stupid with one less?

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Still not answered your question? Get in touchhereand ask away!