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How climate change affects us all

From melting ice caps to raging wildfires, we’re all accustomed to hearing about the devastating effect climate change is having on our planet. But if you don’t live in an area that’s been directly impacted by any of these disasters, it would be easy to think that climate change doesn’t affect you at all.

In reality – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Climate change poses a fundamental threat to life as we know it, no matter where you live. Here’s just a handful of ways that climate change affects us all…

Our Health
With the coronavirus pandemic shining a spotlight on both our physical and mental health, behind the scenes there’s another global crisis having a dramatic impact on our wellbeing.

For many years, medical experts have warned about the consequences of burning fossil fuels, and the same fossil fuel emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect are also causing respiratory diseases such as asthma, heart disease and even lung cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills approximately seven million people worldwide every year – and this number is expected to grow dramatically as the climate crisis worsens.

But it’s not just our physical health that’s being affected. Rising temperatures caused by global warming have also been linked to a two percent increase in mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and even PTSD.

Our Food
We’ve all heard the old adage ‘you are what you eat’, but did you know that climate change is actually affecting the quality of our food?

The CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere as a direct result of our carbon emissions is speeding up photosynthesis. This in turn changes the composition of the fruits and vegetables that we eat – making them less nutritious.

According to researchers at Harvard, if we don’t reduce carbon emissions right now, by the middle of the century about 175 million more people could develop a zinc deficiency and 122 million people could become protein deficient.

But it’s not just the quality of our food that’s been affected, and extreme weather and rising temperatures will also have an impact on crop production, which will in turn disrupt the availability of certain foods.

Our Homes
Most of us consider our homes to be places of security and safety, but climate change poses a major threat to this too.

We’ve all heard about animals being displaced when their habitats are destroyed, but climate change means this could soon be a reality for many humans too.

As our planet heats up, glaciers and ice caps start to melt, and this has caused sea levels to rise approximately 7 to 8 inches since 1900 (around 3 inches of that since 1993). These rising sea levels will inevitably lead to flooding in coastal communities, forcing many people to move.

According to researchers, the number of people harmed by floods will double worldwide by 2030, and damages to urban property will skyrocket from $174bn to $712bn per year.

In addition, severe weather caused by climate change has also been blamed for an increase in wildfires. The last couple of years have seen some of the largest fires on record destroy thousands of homes.

Our Surroundings
The rise of the internet and increased global travel has allowed many of us access to beautiful parts of the world that we might not have been able to experience previously.

However, if we keep destroying the planet at the current rate, we might not be able to enjoy these for much longer. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Serengeti National Park, hundreds of the world’s natural wonders are being ravaged by climate change – changing the face of our planet.

As a direct result of this destruction to these natural landscapes, many species that rely on these habitats to survive will also be destroyed. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are severely reduced, by 2100 an estimated 50% of all the world’s species could go extinct because of climate change.

Our Future
According to a recent survey by Amnesty International, 18-25-year-olds fear climate change more than anything else, with global warming cited by respondents as the most important issue facing the world.

From the rise of Greta Thunberg to widespread protests by young activists, Generation Z are perhaps the most engaged demographic with climate issues – and for very good reason.

Almost all of the 2.5 billion children alive today will live to see a 1.5°C warmer world, and more than 90% of today’s 16-year-olds will see a 2°C warm world in their lifetime. So, while we might not live long enough to be severely impacted by climate change, our children and grandchildren almost certainly will.

It’s for this very reason that we must take action now and reduce our carbon impact to protect the planet for future generations.

For advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint in 2021, check out our blog on five simple ways to act on climate change in 2021.

And, for the carbon impact you can’t avoid, click here to offset your carbon footprint through Climate Wise.

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