Category: Earth & climate

2018: time to step up the climate game

2017: Devastating fires in Portugal, Hurricane Maria kicking Puerto Rico KO, record temperatures in Sydney, an iceberg as big as Delaware braking of the Antarctic Larsen-C ice-shelf, a wildfire season spanning 6 months in California, accelerated melting of Greenland’s glaciers, streets turned into rivers in… I could go on and on. As bloggers and journalists on climate change we used to write in the future tense to describe a warmer world. That has changed.

I have the feeling the last year gave us a look into the future. As you might know, it is difficult to prove the relationship between one particular extreme weather event and the rise of average global temperatures. Yet, we do know as a fact that the intensity and frequency of weather events like those  scourging the planet the previous 12 months will increase. What do I say, are increasing. You see, I haven’t got used to the change of tenses myself yet.

Wildfires caused billions in losses and claimed several lives in Portugal, Spain, California, and Australia

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Plastics – our dirty addiction

Cofee, games, fitness, Netflix, or beer. It seems to be very human to have your own peculiar addiction. There is one product none of us can’t get enough of: plastic. Once hailed as a revolution, it is now quickly becoming one of mankind’s biggest health hazards. Last week I went to a screening of the documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’ in Brussels. Preceded by a panel discussion between director Craig Leeson, marine biologist Richard Thompson, activists Hugo Tagholm and Maria Westerbos, and CEO of Klean Kanteen Jim Osgood. It was an eye-opening evening for me. This is what I take away.

The screening of the documentary was preceded by a panel discussion. From left to right: Leeson, Tagholm, Westerbos, Thompson, Oswood, Beck (own photo).

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5 megatrends that will beat global warming [infographic]

Let’s face it. The time window to avoid run-away climate change is getting smaller by the day. It is now generally recognized the world’s greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2020 if we want to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming by 2 degrees Celsius at the end of this century (this is the promise of the Paris Agreement). For some, the urgency has not yet sunk in. To others, it seems we are already too late to avoid a global catastrophy. Although I think the scientific evidence is showing that we signed up for some pretty nasty stuff already, I remain hopeful that we can avert the worst. In the infographic below, I listed 5 megatrends that show we are moving in the right direction – we just should go even faster. It’s inspired by a great article that appeared in the Guardian at the start of COP23, you can find it here.

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A Great Green Wall for Africa

China has its Great Wall that used to guard off foreign raiders, Westeros has the Wall in the North to stop white walkers, and since a couple of years, a group of African countries is working on its very own Great Green Wall. Sounds impressive, isn’t it? Truth be told, it’s not a real wall. But one day, it will be great.

The Great Green Wall stretches 11 countries, from Senegal to Djibouti (graph: National Geographic)

 

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The drones that will plant 1 billion trees a year

Illegal logging, urban expansion, cattle farming and palm oil production… they all contribute to deforestation. And that’s problematic. Very problematic. The current rate at which forests are chopped down is 15 million trees per year or 36 football fields per minute. Yes, per MINUTE. Where the trees once sequestered atmospheric CO2, their removal leads to 17% of global carbon emissions, according to the UN. To reverse the effects of this mass murder of forests, reforestation at industrial scale is needed.

photo: ABC News/Dave Maguire

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Expectations for 2017 [infographic]

Most of the New Year’s receptions and parties are now behind us and everyone is getting back to work. Time to look ahead to what we can expect from the battle against climate change in 2017. I identified 4 positive and 4 negative trends, which you find in the infographic below. Do you agree with my predictions? What do you think is missing?

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