Cover Photo: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

A little reality check: protecting the world against the frightening effects of climate change would take more than just using bamboo straws and paper cups.

Time and time again, environmental scientists and advocates remind us to refrain from doing activities that accelerate climate change and global warming in hindsight. The sad reality is, we are only reminded of this problem when we see pictures of starving polar bears or thirsty koalas that animal welfare organizations desperately put online to raise awareness.

Global warming continues to happen even when we're not looking. According to a United Nations report, we only have less than a decade to prevent the irreversible damage of climate change. “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet,” the report said. 

In this article are some of the most important climate updates that happened over the past year.

Read also: How Real Is Climate Change?

CO2 Levels

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise in 2021. Just last March, the CO2 levels have already reached around parts per million (ppm). This is a 50 per cent increase over the 1750 to 1800 average.

Greenhouse gas worsens global warming when high levels of CO2 are collected in the atmosphere. This gas creates a cover that traps the sun's heat energy in the atmospheric bubble, warming the planet and endangering marine life. 

More from Tatler: This Year Philippine Tatler Is Fighting To Protect Our Planet

Record Heat

In a study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2020 ranked as the second-hottest year on record for the planet.

“The average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe in 2020 was 1.76 degrees Farenheit above average — just 0.04 of a degree Farenheit cooler than the 2016 record,” the report said.

There are two viable solutions to this problem: practice zero-carbon shipping or learn how to reduce emissions from our refrigerators

Read also: Climate Change 2021: A Coral's Colour May Tell Of Its Resilience

Loss Of Arctic Ice

Extreme heatwaves caused Antarctica to lose about 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002. This rate could speed up if we continue to burn fossil fuels [coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shales, bitumens, tar sands, and heavy oils]. 

In 2020, the Arctic Ocean and the seas nearby endured notable weather and climate events. Last September, the Arctic ice cap shrank to 3.74 million square kilometres.

Also read: Prince William, Pope Francis Spoke During A TED Talk On Climate Change

While these updates are overwhelming, there are small things people could do to potentially lessen the damages brought by climate change. These include educating others, reducing water waste, recognizing scientific breakthroughs on renewable energy, and refrain from using private vehicles.

In the end,  this problem may only be addressed through collective efforts in raising awareness and calling out large companies that produce large amounts of carbon emissions.


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