What about Climate change?
Climate change is probably the biggest footprint issue of our time. All the issues explored on this site relate in some way to climate change and you will find information on how throughout this site.
Some contribute directly to climate change, for example motorised transport which is almost completely reliant on the burning of fossil fuels. Others may be as a result of climate change, for example refugees forced to leave their homes because of rising sea levels or drought.
Briefly, climate change is the term used to refer to the build up of gases in the atmosphere that trap the suns heat, causing the world to become warmer and creating changes in weather patterns. The build up of these gases, and carbon dioxide is the most significant gas, is the result of humans burning fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) for energy. Closely linked to climate change is the greenhouse effect. See an animated BBC guide which explains how the greenhouse effect works to heat up the planet.
What is clear is that unless the world takes effective and rapid action to tackle climate change, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) will not be achieved and we risk leaving a world for future generations that in many parts will become uninhabitable. Even current generations in some of the poorest countries are beginning to feel the effects of climate change through droughts, floods and rising sea levels. And it is our use of fossil fuels that is to blame. [Latest version of flash player required]
Reducing our carbon footprint is therefore one of the most important, most urgent but most challenging tasks we in the western world face.
Imagine this: everyone has been issued with rubber socks. Every time you use fossil fuels the carbon dioxide gas emitted from burning these fuels fill your socks!
Your feet become bigger and bigger the more energy you use - a bit like ever expanding balloons. Every time you travel by car or by plane; every time you turn on the TV or computer; every time you put on your heating, your feet become a bit bigger.
How big do you think your feet would be by the end of the year?
Well, if you produce the amount of carbon dioxide an average person in the UK produces, you would have feet weighing about 9 tones by the end of a year! Or, looked at another way, two feet the size of elephants by the year’s end!
Imagine this: a society or a world in which there are no longer any carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil etc.); a society in which we no longer walk around with elephant feet! What would such a society, 20 years from now, look like?
Here are some ideas:
- Wind, wave, tidal, solar and hydro power would provide all our electricity needs
- Much more land would be covered in forests to produce wood for renewable fuel
- All food would be locally grown and produced (no imported food)
- Meat eating would have to be reduced; a largely vegetarian diet would become the norm
- There would be a complete switch to electric cars, buses and trains
- There would be no domestic flights at all (flights to and from places within our own country) and many fewer international flights
- All homes would be insulated and highly energy efficient; this might mean demolishing and replacing the most wasteful buildings
Millennium Development Goals and Climate Change - a One World report on the impacts of climate change on the poorest countries of the world
Zero Carbon Britain – the website containing ideas on how Britain can eliminate carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 20 by halving energy demand and installing massive renewable energy generation.
- Do you think a zero carbon society is possible?
- What sacrifices do you think people would have to make?
- Do you think they will be willing to make these changes to their lifestyle over the next 20 years in order to bring about a zero carbon society?