Ever felt like you should know more about Climate Change than you do?
Sure, you know the high-level themes such as we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water levels are rising etc etc. But beyond that, you become too overwhelmed with the intricate details of the issue and have no idea where to start?
You’re not alone.
I’ve recently found myself working for an innovation hub for climate technology businesses called Greenhouse. The purpose of Greenhouse is to accelerate the growth and adoption of businesses that support our transition to a Net Zero future.
Finding myself in this position has launched my imposter syndrome to new heights. While like most I’m highly aware of the climate challenge, I have no sophisticated climate knowledge. I feel out of place working for a company with such a strong climate mission.
To treat this imposter syndrome I’ve begun diving into climate education. To help keep myself accountable to this learning and help others increase their knowledge in the space I thought I’d begin a new series: Climate Change Cocktail Facts.
A blog that covers key climate change themes so you feel well equipped next time you’re at a cocktail party and the topic comes up.
In this week’s edition I share three facts and one stat that scared me. Read below to learn:
- What Net Zero really means
- The source of our emissions
- What our objective is between now and 2050
Fact 1: What Net Zero Really Means
Last night I craved a bath but I couldn’t find the plug. Not to be deterred, I realised I simply needed more water entering the bath than what escaped through the drain.
I turned the bath-tap full blast, got the hose and began repeatedly filling up a bucket and transferring it in.
A few minutes later, success. The bath was full.
From here it became a balancing act. If turned off the bath-tap and hose completely the water would drain. If I kept them on full blast it would overflow. I needed the water going in to equal the water going out.
This is what Net Zero is.
When the emissions we’re releasing into the atmosphere are equal to the drains that take it out of the atmosphere.
Currently, there’s too many sources pouring water into the bath and not a large enough sink to stop it from overflowing.
PS. You now have permission to remove the mental image of me in a bath.
Fact 2: The Source of Our Emissions
If you’re wondering about the source of our emissions, here's a pie chart showing the breakdown of the 6 key areas as defined by the UN.
- Electricity as the burning of fossil fuels to power everything.
- Food and Ag as the farming and land use required to feed us.
- Industry as all the materials used to build everything from computers to cars to clothing.
- Transport as cars, planes, trucks.
- Buildings as the construction of buildings and the on-going use of them.
Fact 3: What The Objective Is
You’ve likely heard companies and countries declaring they’ll reach Net Zero by 2050. Unfortunately, achieving this can’t be like a school assignment which you leave to the last minute. The objective is to half our emissions every ten years until that 2050 date.
Otherwise by the time 2050 rolls around we won’t be talking about mitigation strategies, we’ll be talking about adaption strategies. I.e. the things we need to do to survive on an earth where things like extreme weather events are the norm and there’s millions of refugees looking for a new home after theirs is now classified as the ocean.
Stat that scared me:
In the last ice-age (earth was under a mile of ice) the world was only 3 degrees colder.
The Earth’s temperature has already grown by 1 degree and at our current rate we’re tracking to reach 3 degrees by 2050.
Every degree counts.