Last Friday, 15th March, we witnessed the biggest climate change strike yet. With 100 countries seeing their students walk out of schools, including 60 towns and cities in the UK, students across the globe stood up for their future, hoping that the politicians and world leaders would take notice.
The actions of the industry giants have rapidly been depleting the earth’s natural resources, as well as the ozone layer. We all know the impacts of greenhouse gases and how we should recycle some plastic, but there needs to be more than that if we have any chance of slowing down the inevitable; the destruction of our planet.
In February, the UK experienced the hottest temperatures on record, since records began. As much as we may all thrive in the warmth of a sunny day, these average temperatures of 18 degrees in what is meant to be our winter, is something that should concern us.
It seems hard to believe now, but this time last year we were getting ready to endure the worst of the ‘Beast from the East’, the storm that saw widespread snow and freezing temperatures sweep across the whole of the UK. So why is it so hot now, if only 12 months ago, it was approaching some of the coldest temperatures on record?
High temperatures in the UK are caused by high pressure built up along the South East of the British Isles. Warm air from Africa and the Canary Islands boost the temperatures in the UK even further, as the air travels down the sheltered side of mountainous regions, known as the ‘Foehn Effect’.
With such an unusual spell of extreme weather, there is now no doubt that climate change is real and is responsible. Grahame Madge, spokesperson for the Met Office, has said that the appearance of the warmest day of winter on record “does fit a pattern of warming”, but it would “be simplistic to link the weather data to climate change without a study being conducted”. However, according to BBC Science Editor David Shukman, previous research has shown that the likelihood of heatwaves, such as the one experienced last summer and the most recent spell in February, is increased by rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the heating effect they have.
The future effects of climate change and global warming have been worrying scientists for years, but it seems the negative effects are not as far away as they once seemed. Back in December, everyone’s favourite documentary maker Sir David Attenborough brought attention back to the topic of climate change, saying it is happening a lot faster than the changes in the atmosphere that were responsible for the previous ice age. He continued to describe the situation as “humanity’s greatest threat” and expressed concern at the world’s lack of progress in transitioning to a low carbon economy. Fellow scientist, Darren Tansley, mammal ecologist at Essex Wildlife Trust, has voiced his concern about the detrimental effect that high temperatures in winter could be having on British wildlife, particularly hibernating species such as; hedgehogs and bats. He says: “They could be coming out of hibernation too early, which means they are active at a time when they should really be reserving their body fat to get over the slack food period”. British species are not the only ones at risk, however! We have all seen those harrowing images of the skeletal polar bears, struggling in the melting ice caps. We have seen the honey bee being added to the endangered species list, despite its pivotal role in the existence of humanity. These animals are suffering at the hands of the human race, for the sake of using a plastic bottle instead of a re-useable one; buying plastic packaging rather than buying organic fruit and vegetables; leaving a car engine running in a traffic jam, rather than turning it off. There are so many small things that can help, and if each person changed one thing, that would be billions of life lines for this planet.
That is what children all over the world are on strike for. They are making a change. They are proving that everybody making the same statement, can create a mass movement with the power to demand change. If one sixteen-year-old girl had the tenacity to make a stance, why shouldn’t we? The strikes are happening every Friday, and I urge you to attend. Maybe one day they will listen. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.