Summary: There are many books on climate change. Some want to scare you, some want to preach at you. This book provides The Facts – exactly what you need to help save our planet.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
This book is all about the facts. It is a brilliantly short and punchy handbook that will empower you by providing invaluable knowledge and insight to act. As Maslin put its “it can be quoted in the pub or at a dinner party or even in Parliament”.
Facts have the power to change our world – here are some examples from the book that stood out:
In the second half of the 18th century the Industrial Revolution occurred in one place – Britain. Within 50 years it had spread to the whole of Europe, North America and Japan. The Industrial Revolution led to the age of pollution – with waste materials being dumped into rivers, lakes, soil, oceans and the atmosphere.
In 1950 the global population was 2.5 billion. In 2020 the global population was 7.8 billion. A rise of over 5 billion in 70 years.
An average American now uses over 10,000 watts per day to power their cars, homes, offices and the rest of their lives, equivalent to running about 160 old-fashioned lightbulbs – compared to just 6 lightbulbs equivalent use by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
We have added 2.2 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. 25% of this extra ‘anthropogenic’ carbon dioxide has come from the USA. 22% from the EU. Less than 5% from Africa.
We have made enough concrete to cover the whole surface of the Earth in a layer 2 mm thick.
We have created over 170,000 synthetic mineral-like substances, such as all plastics, concrete, steel, ceramics and many artificial drugs. (There are approximately 5,000 ‘natural’ minerals).
There are 1.4 billion motor vehicles, 2 billion personal computers and more mobile phones than people on Earth.
We make over 300 million tonnes of plastic per year, equivalent in weight to 1 billion African elephants or every single person on Earth.
The current weight of all land mammals in the world is made up of 30% humans, 67% livestock and 35% wild animals. 10,000 years ago wild animals made up 99.95% of the weight.
We are not all equally liable for the mess we find ourselves in. The richest 10% of the world’s population emit 50% of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. The richest 50% of the world’s population emit 90% of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. The poorest 3.9 billion people have contributed just 10% of the carbon pollution in our atmosphere.
Poor people in developing countries can spend up to 80% of their income on food. Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food.
We produce enough food to feed 11 billion people. 825 million people do not have access to enough food.
The fossil fuel industry, political lobbyists, media moguls and individuals have spent the last 30 years sowing doubt about the reality of climate change – where none such doubt exists.
The world’s 5 largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million per year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate-motivated policy.
Currently the fossil fuel industry receives $5.2 trillion in subsidies. The largest subsidizers are: China ($1.4 trillion), United States ($649 billion), Russia ($551 billion), European Union ($289 billion) and India ($209 billion).
Western countries have produced over half the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while India has produced just 3%.
What to Do – Individuals
Talk about climate change; Switch to a more vegetable-based diet; Switch to a renewable energy supplier; Make your home energy efficient; Use cars less; Stop flying; Divest your pension from fossil fuels; Divest your investments from fossil fuels; Refuse/reject excessive consumption; Reduce what you use; Refuse as much as you can; Recycle as much as you can; Use your consumer choice; Protest; Vote.
What to Do – Business
Be ambitious (and agile); Be open and transparent; Set emission reduction targets; Focus on energy; Apply the circular economy; Encourage employee power; Link into supply and value chains; Change the whole conversation; Influence governments; Create a new wave of social and environmental entrepreneurs.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
Nothing. It’s simple and powerful and will provide anyone with ammunition to drive change.
Mark Maslin is a Professor of Earth System Science at University College London, former Director of the UCL Environmental Institute and a leading voice in the battle against climate change.
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