As Covid-19 rages around the globe, climate change continues to bite. But behind the horror, hope is rising. What might the new world we emerge into afterwards look like? Will the balance of power shift? The 2008 banking crisis and resulting recession didn’t do it, so can we stop our not-so-esteemed leaders from returning to ‘business as usual’ this time around?
One thing is certain – the fact that we’ve more or less totally stopped driving and flying is already having an dramatic effect on air pollution, and many of our waterways are already cleaner than they’ve been for generations. It is not all good news… but at least there’s some hope. Here’s the latest climate science in bullet points.
- Trump isn’t as powerful as he thinks. He might have withdrawn his country from the Paris Climate Agreement. He might be wilfully ignorant about the threat of global warming. But there’s good news. The USA’s economy is ignoring Trump’s madness and it is quickly de-carbonising, widely adopting green tech despite him. It’s really good to know they’re not all following their leader’s descent into climate insanity.
- Tropical rainforests are removing less CO2 from the atmosphere as time passes. Things are so bad that the year 2035 – just 15 years away – could see the forests of the Amazon and Equatorial Africa unable to absorb CO2 altogether, becoming a net source of carbon dioxide instead of safely sequestering it. In the words of one of the scientists who wrote the research paper, “It’s grim, so grim. It’s the most worrying paper I’ve written.”
- Do you remember the controversial research claiming that the sun’s solar cycles are to blame for climate change? Almost every climate scientist at the time knew it was wrong, but the theory has finally been disproved and debunked once and for all. As it turns out the numbers were ‘inaccurate’, even though solar system orbital dynamics are well understood and the report’s authors could easily have checked their work.
- Electric cars around the world now have a smaller climate change impact than their fossil fuel cousins, according to a new report. It means electric cars are a better environmental choice even in places where the power grids supporting them are not 100% renewable.
- The charity Tearfund has identified four massive brands that, between them, are responsible for burning or dumping half a million tons of plastic waste every year. Tearfund looked at emissions from plastic waste from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever and Nestle, discovering that the plastic the companies burn or dump in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines emits the equivalent of 4.6 million tons of CO2, around the same as two million cars. Coca-Cola is apparently the worst offender, dumping or burning 200,000 tons of plastic pollution a year, equivalent to eight billion or so plastic bottles. PepsiCo came second. This is the first time the link between climate change and burning plastics in developing countries has been highlighted.
- And finally… did you know that simply opening a plastic bottle releases microplastics? Surely it’s time to dump single-use plastics for good?