Most scientists agree that human activity is the key contributor to global warming, and its effects can be clearly observed in many parts of the world. Here are five facts you should know about climate change, and how the UK and Thailand are working to find solutions to tackle this global issue.
1. It is much closer to you
Climate change is not just about rising sea levels or changes in weather patterns and seasons, it affects us directly in terms of survival, safety, and economics. We rely on agriculture and aquaculture for our food and these are dependent on temperature and water supplies, which are at risk of destruction and scarcity through rising temperatures, flood, and drought. If temperatures rise by just one degree, it could be devastating for Thailand’s rice industry.
Flood and drought also affect community well-being, and without proper adaptation or migration strategies, the health and lives of the population will also be affected. By 2100, the sea level is expected to rise by 4 feet, with Bangkok at risk of being underwater in 15 years. These issues are further exacerbated by the spread of tropical diseases in cooler regions.
2. It is happening quicker than you think
It is not just that the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, but scientific data also shows a consistent trend of warming and extreme weather events over the recent decades. There is indeed an increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, as evidenced by measuring stations worldwide.
Three independent weather stations have unanimously concluded that the Earth’s surface temperature has risen by at least 1 degree Celsius since 1900, and the last four decades have become warmer, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Undeniably, there have been more frequent hazards each year such as severe floods, heatwaves, and hurricanes, resulting in significant loss of life. Thailand is ranked as the world’s ninth most impacted country by extreme weather events due to climate change in the last 20 years, according to Germanwatch.
3. Its effect is much more severe
Although a 2-degree Celsius change is just two clicks away on the air-con remote, amplifying that on the global scale, the effects are disturbing; from all coral reefs being bleached by 2100 with no live reefs for future generations, to insects, plants, and vertebrates risking biodiversity loss and extinction.
At least a quarter of the world’s population will be subject to extreme weather events every 20 years, while the risk of increased flood is projected to be 1.7 times greater. Thailand stands to lose US$300 to 420 million (9.8 to 13.9 billion Thai baht) and up to 15% of its major crop yield by 2050 due to prolonged drought and unpredictable monsoon rain patterns, which can be linked to climate change.
4. Many countries are doing more to alleviate the issue
Climate change not only adversely affects populations, but also the global economy, and countries are joining forces to tackle the issue. In the UK, the government is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, and aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This will be achieved by every sector making a concentrated effort to reduce and offset emissions; for example, all new cars are expected to be electric by 2030. The UK is also proud to be hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in the autumn of 2021, bringing leaders from all countries together to take action on climate change.
Following a similar trial, Thailand has also developed the Climate Change Masterplan (2015–2050) to support the initiative. The Masterplan involves three themes: Adaptation, Mitigation, and Creating an enabling environment for change.
5. You can do more to help
As consumers, we can all make changes to our daily lives, to help reduce emissions and create a more sustainable world. The list is exhaustive, but here are some of the steps you can take to help mitigate the effects of climate change:
- Unplug electrical items when not in use
- Save energy in the workplace, and go paperless
- Travel sustainably, such as taking public transport where possible and avoid air travel
- Eat less meat and throw away less food
- Raise awareness of climate change with those around you
This article is part of British Council's Climate Connection programme, brings people around the world together to meet the challenges of climate change. Through arts and culture, education and the English language, it is about ideas, innovation and real change.