LAST UPDATED: 21 February 2017
At times climate change may seem like a far-off threat, but according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we're already seeing the effects — and if we don't act soon it may be too late to prevent irreparable damage.
Nobody on the planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.Chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri.
So, here are our top 5 reasons why if you care about animals it's time to combat climate change…
Tim Flannery, chief councillor of the Australian Climate Council, has repeatedly warned that "while bushfires are part of the Australian story, more intense and frequent bushfires are part of the Australian climate change story."
Bushfires and floods can be devastating for people, and they can take a similar toll on animals — injuring, killing and displacing countless animals both on farms and in the wild. Alarmingly, the scale and frequency of bushfires and floods is already on the rise and that trend is only predicted to continue.
All animals suffer when food becomes scarce, and if the predictions of a drier future for Australia come true it means that animals will be at greater risk of starvation.
The IPCC report warns that climate change induced droughts are a "very real and immediate threat to Australia's society and economy."
As sea temperatures rise, and oceans become increasingly acidic (through absorption of CO2), marine animals are under stress. The coral reefs that countless animals call home are already suffering irreversible damage.
If left unchecked, climate change could cause the Great Barrier Reef to shrink to 10% or less of its original size by 2050. This will result in a catastrophic loss of habitat for marine animals, many of whom may be already threatened with extinction.
The earth is currently losing animals at a rate not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs: literally dozens of species of plants and animals are going extinct every day. Yet unlike the asteroid impacts and volcanoes that killed off the dinosaurs, experts warn that 99% of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities — especially the effects of climate change.
Australia has "the notorious distinction of having possibly the worst extinction record on earth", says Richard Kingsford, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of NSW.
Many animals have been fighting a losing battle against the effects of climate change upon their natural environments. Polar bears, for example, have been pushed to the very edges of their habitats as ‘snow zones' diminish, leaving them with nowhere else to call home.
Desperate polar bears have begun wandering into human towns in search of food. These bears are usually tranquilised (or thrown into "bear jail"!) then shifted back into the wild. But facing starvation, the bears have no choice but to risk raiding towns again. The fate of these "repeat offenders" is unknown…
While this doesn't paint a promising picture of the future, the good news is that the IPCC says there's still time for us to act. So here are 5 simple ways you can help combat climate change for the animals (and all of us)!
5 simple ways you can combat climate change:
- Make the switch to meat-free.
Globally, the livestock industry is responsible for more global warming than all of the world's planes, trains and automobiles combined. So switching to a healthy plant-based diet is the most effective choice an individual can make to help combat climate change. And the benefits don't end there…
Choosing to eat more meat-free meals, or taking animals off your plate completely, will save water, resources AND lives! Click here to order your free veg starter kit for tips and delicious and easy recipes to start eating for a kinder planet today.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
By recycling and by choosing products that are reusable and with minimal packaging you can dramatically reduce waste and cut your greenhouse gas emissions.
- Turn down the heat.
Turning down the heating or air-con in your house by even just 1 degree can dramatically cut your energy bill and your carbon footprint. Turning it off completely can cut even more. That's nothing to get hot under the collar about!
- Convert to a climate-friendly commute.
If you can, try walking or cycling to work — it's better for the planet (and your thighs!). Public transport is the next best option, but if you really can't go car-free then carpooling is another way to save money and miles.
- Switch to energy-saving devices, and switch them off.
Energy-saving light bulbs and energy-efficient devices will not only save you money in the long run, they'll help save the planet. And you can do even more to save energy by turning lights and appliances off when you're not using them. The power is in your hands!