Our kids are at risk from manmade climate change

Our children are at risk from the impacts of manmade climate change – from the burning of polluting fossil fuels.  Their health and wellbeing, safety – indeed their entire future – will be challenged by rising temperatures, worsening heatwaves, bushfires and other extreme weather events.

Scientists tell us that unless we act now to turn down the heat,  humanity itself may not be able to survive beyond the next few harsh decades. The latest international scientific report – the IPCC 5th Assessment released on March 31 – warns of human extinction from the impacts of runaway global warming if we fail to make the significant energy, transport and consumption changes necessary to reduce our collective emissions.

A list of the latest Australian and international media stories on predicted impacts and calls for effective action to avoid worst case scenarios in response to the new IPCC Report can be found at the end of this post.

Our kids' comfortable, safe lives are at risk. Pic via Years of Living Dangerously, new US Showtime series, April 204.
Our kids’ comfortable, safe lives are at risk. Pic via Years of Living Dangerously, new US Showtime series, April 2014.

UNICEF recently released its Children’s Challenge Report showing that millions of innocents around the world are in the firing line. The poorest are bearing the brunt first, but ultimately our own kids will also pay the full price of our addiction to dirty fossil fuels.

Our use of climate pollutants has seen carbon emissions push CO2 levels to an unnatural three million-year high (401 parts per million), causing global temperatures to climb towards an alarming expected +4-6 degrees in coming decades.  Scientists predict that humans and many other species will find the resulting  conditions from such high temperatures difficult to adapt to.

Our city summer heatwave temperatures here in southern Australian mainland cities will soon reach 50 degrees,  and simply keep rising.  Yet the fossil fuel industry (backed by our state and federal governments, our super investments and loans from big banks) plans to produce and burn billions more tonnes of fossil fuels which will further pollute our atmosphere, pushing CO2 levels higher still.

Scientists advise that it’s unlikely our food production,  water supplies,  coral reefs and fish stocks will be able to cope with anticipated impacts of resulting higher temperatures.   Doctors are concerned over health impacts – they’re even taking out ads calling for stronger climate action.  Also see other blog pages for more details: Australia is heating up – faster than predicted, and #jointhedots on #ClimateChange.

deaWe’re told by scientists we only have 5-6 years left for any mitigation to be able to turn down the heat – yet our federal, state and local governments are clearly not taking the risks, nor the need for tough measures and decisive action seriously enough.  By setting low, inadequate  5% emission reduction targets to deal with this life-threatening crisis, it’s clear that our children’s interests and future are not being considered or looked after.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO AS PARENTS TO PROTECT OUR KIDS?

Parents can make the switch to zero and low emission goods and services – go solar, replace halogen lighting with LED, recycle and reuse, reduce purchase of plastics and buy locally grown fresh food via farmers markets.  If you can’t go solar, choose the 100% GreenPower/NaturalPower option with your electricity provider to get off climate-polluting coal and encourage the use of clean renewable energies.

Ideally compost all your kitchen waste to reduce landfill and use it to grow some of your own fruit and vegetables. Get an eco audit done via your local council to look at energy and water use reductions and cost savings. (There are even electric lawnmowers now available which can be charged on solar.)

Use public transport, walk or cycling wherever possible. Ideally replace your fossil-fuel transportation with hybrid or 100% electric vehicles (car, scooter, motorbike, bicycle) charged on solar.  If you can’t make the switch, offset your emissions via www.carbonneutral.com.au (also to offset plane travel and hire car use).

Be aware that your super fund may contain fossil fuel investments, and that if you bank with the big four in Australia, that these are the biggest financiers of the fossil fuel industry. See Divest from fossil fuels to turn down the heat.

Parents can also speak up individually and collectively for their kids’ rights to a safe, stable and cleaner climate, and demand drastic mitigation action from local, state and federal authorities to match the scientific warnings while we still have time.

Parents can demand that our governments acknowledge the science and severity of the crisis, and act accordingly on our kids’ behalf to retain effective climate measures (such as the Clean Energy Package and Renewable Energy Target) and implement further drastic mitigation action to reduce emissions.

Write to your MPs, local media, and community leaders to demand action, and support national actions by organisations such as Get Up, 350.org.auGoFossilFree, MarketForces and the Climate Council calling for public protection.

Report raises alarm on climate change dangers

The Guardian’s online coverage of the new IPCC report on climate change

 Health risks posed by climate change

Doctors for the Environment statement on implications for our health

Why the fossil fuel industry wants us to ignore the risks

Great Barrier Reef faces bleak future from warming, acidifying oceans

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Follow @TanyiaMaxted on Twitter and Instagram for #climatechange and #IPCC updates.  Like 50 degrees? on Facebook.

Based in Perth,  Tanyia Maxted writes on the climate crisis, divestment from the fossil fuels causing climate change, and solutions such as solar-charged electric cars.  The mother-of-two previously worked in water science communication for an Australian Government-funded national research centre, and in science communication for two Perth universities. See archived articles for ScienceNetworkWA and her UK-published books via Amazon.