Slow Environmental Change Equals Climate Catastrophe
by Annette J Beveridge
This planet is dying and those who are in power have allowed this catastrophic shift without making definitive actions to protect us all. It sounds dramatic but unfortunately, it is true. We have known for a long time that climate change is coming but the world has been too slow to react. Scientists have been warning about the extent of severe weather systems…rising temperatures, fires, droughts or, flooding for many years but even so, the implications of the climate emergency were brushed aside. It was too far in the future, if real at all, and it certainly didn’t suit their agenda. Yet now, we are hurtling towards a future that is both unpredictable and fearful. Change may occur too quickly for nature and indeed, for us to keep up.
To make sense of the climate issues, we must understand how these changes may affect us and I will give a brief insight into what this may look like. Firstly, we need to consider that all of nature is intricately linked. We are losing so many species and as they all play an important role in the natural world, this alone can shift the balance of ecological harmony. As the climate alters, we must consider if drought or floods become prevalent, food will be impacted. Even our ability to travel or move from home to work could become more difficult. Houses close to the sea or rivers may face more severe flooding, not just seasonal but consistently throughout the year. Even towns, cities and villages may experience increased air pollution and floods.
Projecting the risks is a vital part of future-proofing the planet and countries will have to find their own way to mitigate those risks. We must stop killing beneficial insects that help to pollinate crops and therefore, stop our reliance on pesticides. We must stop the destruction of woodlands that play host to a wide array of species. Trees are an ally against the climate crisis so to destroy precious woodlands is to destroy our life as we know it. We are pushing nature to the limit and nature is now pushing back.
Any change must be based on the foundations of science. Predictions as to what will happen here in Britain and beyond is essential. If we had planned more readily decades ago, the slippery slope to this crisis could have been more easily averted and the challenges reduced. So we need to consider how to be a little more self-sufficient….not just personally, but as a country. We need to grow our own food where possible, and recycle and re-use items. We need to be more aware of waste and we absolutely must reduce the amount of plastic used. Buying fresh produce locally will be beneficial as it keeps local communities strong, but this will only work if local farms are one step ahead of the climate change implications.
Change takes time. To plan ahead, the Government must take a forward-thinking approach and plan a definitive strategy. This can appear incredibly slow. Plans must have solid foundations. They have to be discussed and reviewed but right now, there needs to be a sense of urgency about this. Proposals must not be ‘pie in the sky’ ideas that require technology to be invented. Any changes must be interconnected and work seamlessly.
Let’s consider the obvious elements:
- Fewer cars on the road but better public transport
- Fewer flights until technology catches up with aviation needs
- Greener homes designed with nature in mind
- Save green spaces
- Reduce extensive building projects
We need to give nature a helping hand and not plot its downfall. Planting trees may be essential considering we have lost so much of our woodland but ideally, land needs to re-wild itself. Nature reserves must be protected and extended and we desperately need wildlife corridors. We need to turn back the clock and work alongside nature. For each aspect of life, plans need to be rolled out. As a country and collectively, as a planet, we have delayed for far too long. We do not have time to wait for these difficult decisions to be made.
Prepare your mindset now. We will all need to think and act differently and no doubt, there are challenges ahead. We must move away from fossil fuels completely and live a greener and more sustainable life. Reduce meat consumption and use more plant-based foods in the diet. This means farming methods will have to change.
We have known for a long time that modern farming practices are damaging the environment. Intensive farming is unhealthy for all including the animals suffering from those methods. Cattle and sheep release methane and this escalates the climate crisis and so, it is likely that we reduce the number of grazing animals. Agroforestry is worth considering and woodlands can be planted alongside crops. There are many benefits to this. We must also continue to re-introduce certain species like the Beaver to Britain and let the pattern of the natural world take shape.
Our shrinking peatlands are another example of delayed actions with disastrous consequences. Here in the UK, approximately 80% of peatland habitat has already been destroyed. This did not happen overnight. The blind eye of the UK Government systematically allowed this to happen. Over a decade ago, the plan was to phase out the use of peat in compost and yet, even now, peat is sold in garden centres.
Why does this matter? Peat makes an excellent carbon sink and so, protects us against climate change. When destroyed, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. As peatlands shrink, we place unique plants and animals at risk. Again, we are the culprits destroying nature.
This may be a difficult read. No one wants to accept we are on the edge of a precipice but sadly, this is our reality. The world is changing so fast that we and many other species on this planet may struggle to keep pace with it. I firmly believe that knowledge equals empowerment and by recognising these warning signs now, it is possible to add your voice to the growing cries for action. Lobby your local council or MP. Push your government to recognise the climate emergency and to act accordingly. We are in this mess because slow environmental changes have led to this point until we are teetering on the edge of a catastrophe. We must act now. We have little alternative.
Annette J Beveridge is an author, and environmental and health writer. She has been writing professionally for almost 20 years. Annette is the editor of Creative1 Publishing, EcoHive and Enviro-Veritas.