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Where is the world at now?

This video covers some key planetary boundaries, highlighting why sustainability is important, and why there is a need to act now.
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(upbeat music) <v ->Hi, I’m Dr. Hayley Sparks.</v> <v ->And I’m Frances Valintine.</v> <v ->Now that you have looked into key terminology</v> and have an understanding of what sustainability means, it is important to consider where the world is at now. Why is there a need to act now to address challenges that are compromising the sustainability of our planet and societies? Through this video, we’re going to explore some of the key planetary and social boundaries which are at risk of being breached and causing significant impacts. What things immediately come to mind when thinking about sustainability challenges? <v ->Off the top of head, some of the sustainability challenges</v> we’re facing are water supply and thinking about the quality of water.
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We have to think about our air quality and pollutions, our food sources and how we grow them, how we sustain the growth of the global population from the 7.8 billion today to the 10 billion projected by 2050. There are many challenges we’re going to face as we think about the way we all equally play our part and actually from community through large corporations how do we bring sustainability from the edges into the core parts of business, our operations and government. But if you’re leading change, when you think about sustainability, it might just be your local community. How do you think about your gray water or droughts or dealing with climate change in your small way?
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The most important thing is when we think about these challenges, it’s each one of them can be isolated and looked at both on its own and its part of the global population and ecosystem. <v ->Stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification,</v> sea level rise, biodiversity loss, changes to the global hydrological cycle, changing biogeochemical cycles, scientific jargon that highlights some of the planetary boundaries, which are changing, but what does all this mean? Where do we even start? How does one comprehend key sustainability challenges the world is facing? <v ->One place to start is to think about</v> the Sustainability Development Goals that the United Nations have identified and that you’ve already been exploring.
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Remember the goal to address the global challenges we face including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. We won’t have time to cover all these challenges in detail but let’s dig a bit deeper into some of the most well-known, but complex challenges. <v ->Let’s start with climate change a controversial topic</v> but where the global and local implications are widespread on land and oceans and in our atmosphere. There are many theories on climate change but rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as having real impacts. The United Nations explains that global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50% since 1990.
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Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three decades. A climate emergency has been declared. <v ->Temperatures are rising, NASA data suggest that 19</v> of the warmest years have occurred since the year 2000. The year 2020 tied with the year 2016 as the warmest years since record keeping began in 1880 <v ->Sea levels are rising as oceans have warmed</v> and the amounts of snow and ice has diminished. Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet are mounting. The United nations note that from 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 centimeters as oceans expanded due to warming and ice melted.
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The Arctic Sea ice extent has shrunk in every successive decade since 1979 with 1.07 million kilometers squared of ice loss every decade. Freshwater hydrological systems are also being disrupted, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre estimates that by 2050 about half a billion people are likely to be subject to water stress. Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising and weather events are becoming more extreme <v ->But hasn’t the COVID-19 global pandemic</v> helped to address the impacts of climate change?
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I remember seeing a news an article showing how pollution wasn’t as bad during the lockdowns and how greenhouse gas emissions reduced because of travel bans and restrictions. <v ->Yes, it is estimated that data will show a reduction</v> in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 resulting from the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on societies and economies. But these reductions are unlikely to continue. Climate change has not been addressed by the pandemic and it is likely that the world will see a return to increasing greenhouse gas emissions if societies and economies return to pre-pandemic practices. COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to innovate but is not a panacea for the planet.
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More on innovation and what we can do to address climate change next week. <v ->But what are the other planetary boundaries</v> that are at a crisis level? What about biodiversity loss? Is this the reason to continue an act now to address sustainability challenges? <v ->Of course, biodiversity loss has significant impacts</v> on lots of different parts of the Earth’s ecosystem. As the United Nations explains, nature is critical to our survival. Nature provides us with our oxygen, regulates our weather patterns, pollinates our crops, produces food, feed, and fiber, but it is under increasing stress.
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Human activity has altered almost 75% of the Earth surface squeezing wildlife and nature into an ever smaller corner of the planet and increasing risks of Zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. In fact, around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction and many of these within decades. But what is the impact of biodiversity loss? <v ->Biodiversity loss, deforestation, desertification,</v> caused by human activities and climate change pose major challenges to sustainable development and have effected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. These loss is not only impact on societies and economies but also the inner workings of the Earth’s biosphere, hydrological and atmospheric systems.
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<v ->So climate change and biodiversity loss are two crisis</v> that the world is facing, impacting on sustainability of the natural and social worlds. Poverty and inequalities at a range of scales is becoming more and more pronounced as the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen. For example, the United Nations suggest that as many as 80% of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant-based medicine for basic health care. When biodiversity is being lost, ecosystems are being disrupted, plant-based medicines and food is being lost. This then has flow on a fix to the livelihoods and house of communities and inequalities are being exacerbated. <v ->Natural and social worlds</v> are therefore inherently interconnected.
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Indigenous cultures around the world do not see nature separate from people. For example, in the perspective of Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand everything living and non-living is interconnected. Transforming social and economic systems means improving our relationship with nature, understanding value, and putting its value at the heart of decision-making, according to the United Nations report, “Making Peace With Nature.” <v ->So what does all of this mean?</v> These sustainability challenges are huge. They’re global issues but they have very real impacts that you may have experienced in your town, city or country.
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Changing weather patterns, increased rainfall causing flooding, increased temperatures causing wildfires, droughts causing water shortages, coastal erosion, increased pollution causing breathing difficulties, changing land use patterns, and changing food systems in response to climate change, increased water and ocean pollution influencing food supply from oceans and water quality, the growth of cities and the increased density of cities. <v ->It seems that sustainability challenges are endless</v> and what is happening in the environment impacts on human life, and the human life is impacting changes on the environment <v ->Too true, these challenges will require behavioral changes</v> and most importantly changes in mindset and perspective.
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The remainder of the content for this week will provide an opportunity for you to dive deeper into some of these challenges, think about the ones that are most apparent or relevant in your context. Think about the mindset and approach being used to address these issues in your town, city or country. (upbeat music)

This video was intended to provide an overview of some of the key sustainability challenges that the world is facing, and therefore why there is a need to act now. The Sustainability Development Goals, as introduced in an earlier video, provide a framework of challenges that members of the United Nations General Assembly are intending to achieve by the year 2030. However, beyond those challenges highlighted in the video, there are a multitude of other social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges that are being considered around the world.

The next article in this short course delves a bit deeper into the idea of Planetary Boundaries, specifically in terms of biodiversity. We are then keen to hear what sustainability challenges you are facing in your contexts in the discussion step.

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