Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century

By Nick Morrison

On Tuesday June 4th, there was a talk on sustainability given by Arthur Lyon Dahl an ecologist formerly with the UN.

Arthur Lyon Dahl 1

He was principally looking at global challenges of the 21st century and in particular biodiversity .

Arthur Lyon Dahl 2

The technologies of information, communications and transportation have reduced our world to a neighbourhood, but we are still trying to manage it with institutions and values from an earlier age.

Environmental challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and resource depletion threaten our future sustainability.

It is reckoned that the extinction rate of species is now 1000 times the pre- industrial level. If global temperatures rise by 2°C we will lose a further 20% . If the global temperature rises by 4°C we will lose 50% of the current species . 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction.

“A fundamental component of resolving the climate change challenge will be the cultivation of values, attitudes and skills that give rise to just and sustainable patterns of human interaction with the environment. …the problem of climate change has powerfully demonstrated the need for integrated and systemic approaches.” Baha’i International Community, Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the Challenge of Climate Change, 2008 

An early Paris accord set a limit of global warming to 1.5°C we have already increased the global temperature by 1°C . If we reached 2° then 20% of the current species will cease to exist . If we reach 4° in that figure rises to 50% to meet 1.5° centigrade from now we would need to stop using fossil fuels .

How to Meet the 1.5°C Target

  • Stop using fossil fuels, or CCS
  • Travel light
  • Rebuild everything
  • A new industrial revolution
  • Forests, farms and food, plant-based diet, low carbon, land/forest carbon sinks
  • Balance remaining emissions by removing carbon from atmosphere
  • Change ourselves, reducing our energy demand

We need another Industrial Revolution to create this we should also investigate carbon capture .

Continuing business as usual will end in catastrophe of one form or another.

“We are the last generation that will be able to do something about global warming and the first generation to feel the effects of it” . ( Prof Peter Wadham)Farewell to Permafrost: Nick at Orkney’s International Science Festival

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