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The scale of the issue

Read the introduction to climate change and the scale of the issue

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. We are approaching a critical tipping point. If we continue as we are, we could set off a process of self-reinforcing, runaway global warming and ecological breakdown on a huge scale.

The evidence tells us that:

  • 2020 was tied with 2016 as the hottest years on record
  • Arctic summer ice is two thirds less than it was in the 1970s
  • During June 2020, the Arctic Circle had the highest temperatures ever recorded, one Siberian town recorded 38°C (100 F)
  • Temperatures are currently 1.6°C above the global average for the 20th Century

It is clear that the choices we make in the next 6-18 months are critical and will have a ripple effect over shaping the next 10 to 100 years.

  • Crossing the 1.5°C or 2°C thresholds, will result in a geophysical change that will put huge stress on the natural systems that humans rely on to live
  • Avoiding 2°C, will require a rapid and complete transformation of global energy, transportation and agricultural systems. Most importantly, it will also require significant shifts in how we view the world, our interconnectedness with nature and our role as a human species, as stewards of the Earth.

In this video natural historian Sir David Attenborough talks about our climatic emergency.

Optional task

Take time to consider the justice elements of climate change. The climate crisis is manifesting unequally along the socioeconomic, class and race lines.

The UN’s recent warning of the world facing a ‘climate apartheid’ risk, discusses how minorities, indigenous peoples and the world’s most vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected.

There are many more statistics on the realities of climate change.

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Effective Policymaking to Build the Impact Economy

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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