This September 13, 2016 the United Kingdom experienced the hottest day of the year with temperatures reaching 34.4C (93.9F). The BBC reported the temperature was recorded in Gravesend, Kent and it is the warmest September since 1911. In this article we exam the current stats on climate change, how the UK still relies on fossil fuels and what the future holds for the world’s fight against climate change.
2016 is the warmest year on record according to NASA, with rising temperatures across the globe continuing to break records. According to NASA’s data, the six-month period of January to June 2016 was an average temperature of 1.3C (2.4F) warmer than the late nineteenth century. The record-breaking rises over the years have led to environmental changes in the eco-system. The Artic sea ice has been declining at an annual rate of 13.4 % per decade. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is currently being scanned by NASA to get the overall look at the destruction climate change has caused.
How to respond to climate change is divided by the need to develop renewable energy and a country’s reliance on fossil fuels. FXCM states the UK’s oil sector is key to the UK economy. The UK is the largest producer of gas and oil products in Europe and the oil sector alone contributes up to £50 billion annually. The site goes on to hint that there is optimism concerning the future of the UK oil industry as oil prices are expected to rebound. Yet as the price of oil decreased in 2015, oil-producing assets in the region have already begun to be de-commissioned. The ever-changing nature of the oil economy could be the first sign that the UK will be forced to invest more in cleaner renewable energy in a bid to fight climate change.
The signs, however, don’t look very good. The Guardian reported that the UK is on course to miss its 2020 renewable energy targets. The targets that will not be achieved include generating 30% of electricity from wind, solar and low-carbon sources and to generate 10% of transport fuels and 12% heating energy from clean sources. While the paper states that’s the UK is not legally bound to meet these targets it will be a big blow to environmentalists and could damage Britain’s reputation as a leading climate change country.
In this recent study, NASA has suggested that to combat the effects of climate change scientists are looking at extreme ways to cool down the earth. In 2014, Concept Evolution was among the first to report that scientists are looking into ways to cool the earth that could damage the planet. These included spraying sulfate or sulfuric acid aerosols into the atmosphere to create a reflective defense that could block the sunlight. This strategy is known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM). We reported that methods such as these would have severe environmental consequences such as droughts, agricultural damage, and ozone depletion. Scientists in favor of this believe that this could give the world more time to reduce carbon emissions.
With record breaking temperatures, climate change is the biggest concern the planet faces today. Countries such as the UK show the divide between relying on fossil fuels for the economy and the difficulty in meeting climate change targets.
And, while climate science may still be an emerging scientific field, the more we understand, and the more records continue to fall, the more likely the world will face some difficult choices in the future.