Brutal truth:

Beautiful possibility:

Brutal truth:

Climate catastrophe

A heating planet and a ticking clock mean the pressure’s on to avoid irreversible, globally catastrophic climate change.

Beautiful possibility:

Climate optimism

The backlash against fatalism is putting hope in the spotlight.

1.

A new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that we have only 12 years to act if we are to avoid truly catastrophic global climate change. (Source)

2.

But it’s not just a distant threat, the impacts of climate change are being felt closer to home – across the globe natural disasters are getting worse and more frequent. (Source)

3.

The number of extreme heatwaves in Europe has risen since 1950, leading to hundreds of premature deaths in the UK alone. And the intensity and frequency of extreme temperatures is forecast to increase. (Source)

4.

The rest of the world is watching in horrified fascination: ‘doom porn’ is totally in right now. (Source)

Beautiful possibility:

Climate optimism

The backlash against fatalism is putting hope in the spotlight.

1.

For the first time in history, we have global alignment on the climate challenge. In 2015, 200 countries signed The Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well-below 2 degrees above pre-industrial times.

2.

We also have the scientific roadmap of how we need to get there. In 2017 The Stockholm Resilience Centre published the “carbon law” – a model for how to reach the Paris Agreement.

3.

We know what we need to do. Project Drawdown lists out the 100 solutions scientifically-calculated to make it happen. (Source)

4.

Solutions are underway. The energy revolution now seems unstoppable. Many nations, including the UK, are on the way to a renewable future. (Source)

5.

Despite doom-mongering, the human propensity for hope prevails. Most of us believe it’s not too late to act: 95% of climate experts and 64% of the ordinary people believe we can solve the climate challenge. (Source)

Brutal truth:

Hungry planet

One planet and billions more people to feed. Despite this growing demand, climate change and land conversion are putting the future of our food supply at risk.

Beautiful possibility:

The taste for change

In the West, our relationship to food is changing for the better – driven largely by health concerns. Will this new approach to eating go global?

1.

Western-style meat habits are going global. The increase in livestock farming to meet demand is putting a heavy strain on the land, water and the climate. (Source)

2.

Deserts are forming where crops once grew. And with continuing climate change, this is only going to get worse. (Source)

3.

Illegal and unsustainable fishing practices are pushing some marine ecosystems to the brink of collapse. (Source)

4.

As Lester Brown, the author of Full Planet, Empty Plate put it, “Food is the new oil and land is the new gold” (source). Yet, here in the UK, food is going straight from our shopping baskets to our bins. (Source)

Beautiful possibility:

The taste for change

In the West, our relationship to food is changing for the better – driven largely by health concerns. Will this new approach to eating go global?

1.

One in eight Brits – or almost 13% of the population – is now vegetarian or vegan, with a further 21% identifying as ‘flexitarian’. Clearly planet-friendly diets are no fad. (Source)

2.

We’re moving beyond tofu and seeing many more plant-based meat alternatives on the menu. (Source)

3.

The obsession with protein is driving new exciting innovation. Insect snack bars and lab-grown burgers are reinventing protein for good. (Source)

4.

People are taking an interest in how and where their food is produced. The UK market for organic produce has experienced six years of steady growth, and is now worth £2.2 billion. Locally-sourced produce has become a mark of quality and green-fingered foodies are reviving the vegetable patch. (Source) (source)

Brutal truth:

Trash is taking over

Our current take-make-waste economy is costing us the earth, and our health.

Beautiful possibility:

Landfill no more

Collins Dictionary named “single-use” the word of 2018, which reflects the increasing global awareness about waste. An awareness which is turning into action.

1.

The world cranks out more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. More than 40 percent is used once, sometimes for less than a minute, and discarded. (Source)

2.

8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enters our oceans annually – disrupting sensitive ecosystems and endangering marine life. If this continues, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. (Source)

3.

We’re running out of landfills. China’s crackdown on importing recycling from other countries is causing plastic to stockpile around the globe. (Source)

4.

While recycling in the UK is up overall, half of local authorities recycled a lower proportion of household waste in 2016/17 than in 2011/12. (Source) (source)

5.

This disposable culture has taken over every aspect of our lives. Fast fashion is another big culprit in the waste epidemic. Currently in the UK, we’re chucking out a staggering £140 million worth of unworn clothes a year. (Source)

6.

We’re now ingesting pollution. In a recent global study, 83 percent of tap water samples worldwide tested positive for microscopic plastic fibres. (Source)

Beautiful possibility:

Landfill no more

Collins Dictionary named “single-use” the word of 2018, which reflects the increasing global awareness about waste. An awareness which is turning into action.

1.

In response to the ocean plastic crisis, the European Government voted for a complete ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks by 2021. (Source)

2.

Straws are out and reusables are becoming mainstream. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups have become status symbols. (Source)

3.

Sustainability, and specifically circularity, has taken over the fashion landscape, and eco pilot projects are beginning to scale. 2018 saw the launch of ReGain, the first clothing return app, diverting old, unwanted clothes from landfill. (Source) (source)

4.

With the rise of the sharing economy, we’re finding new use for old, unwanted stuff. (Source)

Brutal truth:

Disappearing worlds

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades signals the sixth mass extinction event in the last half billion years of Earth’s history – and it’s more severe than previously feared.

Beautiful possibility:

Nature’s great comeback

We’re bringing nature back into balance.

1.

In just the last 40 years, we’ve lost half of the world’s wild animal population. The culprit? Habitat destruction, overexploitation and climate change combined. (Source)

2.

Tropical Forests once covered 12% of the world’s landmass and today, they cover just 5%. That’s because in places like the Amazon, we’ve taken to burning down forests to make way for cattle. (Source)

3.

Man-made global warming is wreaking havoc on our oceans. Warmer temperatures are killing off the world’s coral. (Source)

4.

Wildlife crime is big business, and it’s getting bigger. The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. (Source)

5.

Pollution, habitat changes, overuse of pesticides, and global warming have ignited an insect apocalypse. And as insects are the pollinators of our food crops, it’s a decline that could have big consequences. (Source)

Beautiful possibility:

Nature’s great comeback

We’re bringing nature back into balance.

1.

Nature is our biggest ally for reversing climate change. Conservation, restoration, and improved land management could deliver more than a third of the emission reductions we need to hit the Paris Agreement targets — as much as ceasing the burning of oil annually. (Source)

2.

Projects promoting ‘natural climate solutions’ are already underway. From North America to Indonesia, natural lands are finally getting the help they need to support life on earth. (Source)

3.

Tourist destinations are taking a stand for the natural world. The island nation of Palau introduced the Palau pledge – an award-winning tourism campaign to encourage responsible tourism that was so successful it became an official entry requirement to the island. Other tourism hotspots are now considering similar strategies. (Source)

4.

In just over a decade the rights-of-nature movement has grown from one law adopted in a small community in the US to a movement which has seen countries enact laws, even constitutional protections, recognising the rights of nature. The emerging movement aims to give our rivers, mountains and forests legal rights. (Source)

5.

In Britain, a re-wilded countryside is bringing back biodiversity (source). And it’s not just in the countryside. Urban rewilding is turning grey to green, helping people in cities to connect with the natural world. Completed in 2017, Walthamstow Wetlands in London is now Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve, spanning 211 hectares. (Source)

6.

Consumers are becoming more aware of their impact on the planet. Public interest in palm oil reached a 15-year high in 2018, after Iceland’s Greenpeace-produced Christmas ad was banned from television. (Source)

Brutal truth:

Urban ills

Most of us are choking on toxic air.

Beautiful possibility:

Healthy cities

The fight for clean air is underway, helping urban dwellers prosper and our climate recover.

1.

54% of people worldwide now live in cities, up from 30% in 1950. This is estimated to grow to two thirds of the world population in the next 15-30 years. (Source)

2.

Currently 92% of the world’s population live in places where air quality levels exceed WHO’s Ambient Air quality guidelines for what’s considered safe. And with rapid urbanization, that’s set to increase. (Source)

3.

According to a government report published in 2018, poor air quality has been classified as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

4.

London’s air pollution levels keep breaking the law. In 2018 London hit its annual air quality limit as early as January. (Source)

5.

The death of a nine-year-old girl in London in 2013, was recently attributed to air pollution – the first time in history a direct link has been made.

Beautiful possibility:

Healthy cities

The fight for clean air is underway, helping urban dwellers prosper and our climate recover.

1.

As our nations’ leaders quarrel over climate change, local governments are taking matters into their own hands. C40 Cities is an initiative that connects 96 of the world’s greatest cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. (Source)

2.

Many of these cities, including London, are shifting away from petrol and diesel cars, in favour of ultra-low emissions zones or complete pedestrianisation. (Source) (source)

3.

In Britain, sales of diesel vehicles fell by a quarter in 2018, in part due to these new pollution charges. And government grants continue to fuel the rise in electric and hybrid vehicle ownership. (Source)

4.

The amount of people cycling in Britain is up 23% in 10 years. (Source)

5.

People are getting wise to poor-air quality. Some are opting for masks whilst commuting, others are avoiding unhealthy air with tracking apps and personalised devices. Many people now use anti-pollution skincare products. And even the humble houseplant has been rebranded as an air-cleaning ally. (Source)

Brutal truth:

Resource strain

Population growth, extractive technologies and consumer demand are putting unprecedented pressure on finite and sensitive natural resources

Beautiful possibility:

Mindful living

We’re being more careful about what we use and how we buy.

1.

Since 1970, the world has been in ecological deficit. At present, 1.7 Earth planets are needed to support humanity’s annual demand on the ecosystem. In 2018, Earth Overshoot Day was on August 1st (since 2001, it is moving on average three days earlier per year). (Source) (source)

2.

The continued search for oil, gas and minerals is pushing exploration into more technically challenging and environmentally sensitive areas. In 2018 the Trump administration withdrew measures to protect the Arctic from highly dangerous drilling.

3.

Water shortages are expected to affect 5 billion people by 2050 due to climate change. The UN warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs. (Source)

4.

According to the Greater London Authority, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040. (Source)

5.

We’re living on borrowed water. The average UK consumer uses 3,500 litres of water a day. Only 150 litres in direct use, the rest is virtual water – the water it takes to produce foods and manufacture consumer goods. These products are often produced in countries already at risk from drought or water stress.

Beautiful possibility:

Mindful living

We’re being more careful about what we use and how we buy.

1.

In the face of new challenges, people around the world are adapting and collaborating to live more sustainably. In 2018, during the worst drought in its history, the citizens of Cape Town in South Africa cut their combined water usage in half, with unprecedented speed. (Source)

2.

Public support for the use of renewable energy in the UK is at an all-time high at 85%. Two in three people said they would be happy to have a large-scale renewable development in their area. (Source)

3.

Experience beats stuff. Younger generations reportedly place more importance on experiences than they do on material possessions – as evidenced by the boom in the experience economy. (Source)

4.

From “conscious consumerism” to minimalism, we’re reassessing the consumer habits that have come to define us. Lifestyle philosophies characterised by moderation, consideration and purpose are sweeping the West. (Source)

Brutal truth:

Environmental discrimination

Climate change won’t impact everyone in the same way.

Beautiful possibility:

Collective action

People are piling on the pressure for planet-friendly decision making.

1.

Globally, the wealthiest 10% of people may be responsible for more than 50% of emissions, yet the most severe impacts of global warming will be felt by the poor – people who are more likely to live in areas exposed to environmental hazards, like flood plains, and whose homes may also lack basic infrastructure, such as drains to safely carry away storm-water. (Source)

2.

Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change. Women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes and labour markets compound this inequality, preventing them from contributing to solutions. (Source)

3.

The World Bank has warned that without urgent global and national climate action, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America could see more than 140 million climate refugees by 2050. (Source)

4.

Governments need to take radical short-term action to mitigate climate disruption, but with the rise of right-wing populism in many countries, such action would prove to be an electorally unpopular move. (Source)

5.

The British public is divided over climate change. 71% of Remain voters think that climate change is definitely happening, in stark contrast to 53% of Leave voters. A generational difference in attitudes is also reflected in the fact that younger age groups are more likely to be worried about climate change. (Source)

Beautiful possibility:

Collective action

People are piling on the pressure for planet-friendly decision making.

1.

In 2015, the UN updated the Millennium Development Goals to incorporate environmental sustainability. The resulting Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, mark the first time in history the world’s governments have agreed that continued human development is dependent on thriving natural ecosystems. (Source)

2.

Young people are mobilizing to protect the environment. Thousands of schoolchildren across Australia walked out of class in 2018 to demand action by the federal government on climate change (source). Whilst 21 kids in the US continue to make international headlines in their attempt to sue the US government over climate change. The pioneering lawsuit has won the right to a trial, overcoming the Trump administration’s efforts to cancel it in court. (Source)

3.

Unlikely allies are emerging in the fight for a more sustainable future. In 2015 Pope Francis called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join the fight against climate change. The Pope declared that the science of climate change is clear and that the Catholic Church views climate change as a moral issue that must be addressed. (Source)

4.

The same year, 50,000 people in London, and 600,000 worldwide, attended the People’s Climate March, the biggest public demonstration in history calling for bold and urgent action to address global warming. (Source)

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