To answer this we must first consider some fundamental Qs and As.
Is climate change natural or caused by human activity?
The main body of scientific opinion concludes that climate change is as a result of human activity and not as the result of cyclical natural variations. They point to the fact that cyclical variations occur every few thousand years whereas global temperatures were constant until industrialisation with a significant increase in the last 25 years. A recent scientific report showed that there was incontrovertible evidence that climate change is as a result of human activity.
Could a small place like Henfield have any impact on what is happening?
China and the USA between them emit 40% of the total Carbon Dioxide produced from the combustion of fossil fuels. The UK is one of the lowest.
Whilst the UK is a world leader in tackling its own carbon emissions it still has much to do to meet its own target emissions reductions of being carbon neutral by 2050. France does so much better than the UK where their per capita carbon emissions are 40% lower than ours. Intergovernmental conferences are working hard to achieve a world consensus on the appropriate action that needs to be taken and persuade climate change deniers of the need to take urgent action. The UK can do its part by supporting initiatives that bring pressure on countries that record and yet fail to introduce sufficient measures to reduce their carbon emissions. And we in Henfield can help by making sure that we do our bit and reduce our emissions to the per capita world average. That would mean a reduction of 35% from where we are now.
Can anything be done to fix the ever rising global temperature and if so how much time have we got before it is too late?
80% of the greenhouse gases are as a result of water vapour rising from the oceans. The remaining 20% is caused by other gases such as carbon dioxide and methane and of these 80% are fossil fuels. So as the Earth gets warmer due to the increasing carbon gases in the atmosphere, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere will also increase to a point where we will have no control of the impact that it will have. Scientists fear that this run-away temperature increase can only be controlled until 2030 for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. Beyond this even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. We all owe a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to slow down or stop this process.
The answer as to whether we can do anything about it must be yes because the consequences of failing to take action could destroy the Earth as we know it.
Can this situation be regarded as an emergency?
The UK government and many local authorities, in recognition of the evidence for the causes of climate change, have declared a Climate Emergency. There is a world wide initiative to promote the idea of a Declaration of a Climate Emergency and almost 900 local authorities in 18 countries have declared a climate emergency. Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to 161 million citizens, with 47 million of these living in the United Kingdom (Henfield included). This means in Britain now roughly 64 per cent of the population lives in areas that have declared a climate emergency. There is still much to do to persuade governments of the real emergency we are facing. Our own county council has launched the West Sussex Climate Pledge. The pledge focuses on key steps that can be taken to limit the impact of carbon emissions by raising awareness in various areas and advise on actions relating to travel, water, plastics and food.
Henfield is also playing its part in supporting this initiative by forming a new community group called Sustainable Henfield 2030. Its aims are to raise awareness of the issues of climate change by providing information and support to families and businesses in Henfield on how they can play their part in ensuring a sustainable future.
The vision is to create an umbrella group that supports a range of support/action groups that will focus on different topics. These will include carbon offsetting, solar cells, electric cars, car sharing, plastic avoidance, food production and consumption, contacts with other groups, etc. We are not a radical or political group but one that wants to share its concerns for the future of our world with the community of Henfield and beyond. Maybe our own Greta Thunberg may emerge to champion the future.
Sustainable Henfield 2030 will share ideas, produce information, hold meetings and support people in understanding how they can play their part in reducing their carbon emissions.
An Inaugural Meeting is being held:on 17 September 2019 at 7pm in the Garden Room of the Henfield Hall. Everyone is welcome and in particular members of the Henfield clubs and societies. So please come along and help launch Sustainable Henfield 2030 so that our village can play its part in ensuring a sustainable future for our future generations.
Please show your support by registering your interest by e mail to H2030@Mail.com
Both drawings courtesy of pupils at St. Peter's Primary School
10 Facts You Should Know
Carbon Dioxide emitted into the atmosphere will last 1000 years if it cannot be absorbed. The UK has an ongoing carbon debt as a result of industrialisation 200 years ago.
Highest per capita fossil fuel emitters (Tonnes carbon). 1. Saudi Arabia 16.85. 2. Australia 15.83. 3. USA 15.53. 8. Germany 8.93. 12. China 6.59. 13 UK 5.99. 15. France 4.37. World Average 4.44
10 out of the last 16 years have been the hottest ever recorded in the UK.
Since 2012 WSCC has reduced its carbon emissions by 45%
According to recent studies the single most effective way of reducing our environmental impact on the planet is to eat less meat.
30 billion trees are cut down in the Amazon rain forest every year.
In England 15 million trees have been planted in the last 8 years. In Ethiopia 200 million trees were planted in one day earlier this year.
The approximate fuel cost per mile of a petrol car it is 14p. For an electric car it is 4p for day time grid electricity and 1.4p for night time grid electricity. With solar cells it is zero.
Some ways of reducing your carbon footprint: eat less meat and dairy, do fewer road and air miles, use fewer plastics, have a well insulated home, change your electricity tariff to a 100% green one, convert to an electric car and etc.
10. Plastic products take between 400 and 600 years to decompose. A dead Minke whale washed up on the Normandy coast in France was found to have 800 kg of plastic in its stomach.