Article by Millie Peach | Photo by Clarisse Croset on Unsplash

We often talk about climate change in the context of science.

We talk about the ever-increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the resulting changes to our weather systems. However, reducing climate change to a purely scientific problem can sometimes make it quite an inaccessible conversation topic and cause us to lose sight of the bigger picture.

What’s often overlooked is the fact that climate change is a problem on so many other levels. The damage done to national infrastructure and people’s homes during intense storms or floods incurs a huge cost and makes climate change a serious economic problem. Similarly, reduced agricultural yields due to flooding or drought undermine food security and drive-up food prices. The spread of disease carrying animals like mosquitos due to warmer temperatures makes climate change a pressing health issue. The disproportionate impact of climate change on poorer communities, particularly in the global south, makes climate change a human rights issue.

And in places like the Middle East where impacts of climate change are felt so acutely, and there is already political instability, climate change poses a serious threat to national security.

Climate change in the Middle East is causing extreme heat to spread over larger areas and for longer periods of time. The region is experiencing much less rainfall and as a result the frequency and intensity of drought periods is increasing. Another complication is that approximately 60% of surface water resources in the region are shared by different countries [1], some of which are engaged in international conflict.

International cooperation is imperative for the effective management of these resources. Without enough water, crop yields collapse, and clean drinking water becomes scarce. Water sources and desalination plants have become military targets, further perpetuating the problem. Without sufficient access to food and water, the people living in these regions are faced with no choice but to migrate to more habitable lands. To give you the facts and figure, climate change is projected to displace 1.2 billion people by the year 2050. Mass migration further exacerbates this risk of conflict escalation.

The problem is that these impacts of climate change are not exclusive to the Middle East. The destabilising impacts of climate change are being felt globally, including here in the UK, and will continue to get more severe in the future.

So, enough of the doom and gloom! What are we going to do about it? Here are some main points to get us on our way:

Eat a more eco-friendly diet:

  • There are many ways in which we can eco-fy our diets. One of the best ways to do this is by consuming less meat and dairy, but if you’re not ready to take the plunge just yet, buying local produce can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your shopping list. If possible, growing your own fruit and vegetables is another great way to reduce your diet’s carbon footprint!

Waste less:

  • Around —tons of CO2 are produce every year from landfill. Again – cutting food waste is one of the best ways to cut your carbon footprint.

Use greener forms of transport:

  • Walking and cycling are obviously the optimal modes of transport for cutting emissions, but this is clearly not feasible for longer distances. Public transport like buses and trains are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Especially if they are in the place of planes.

Buy second hand:

  • Ultimately, the best way to cut your emissions is by consuming less but if we need to buy something – cheaper and better for the planet if we buy second hand. Saves money and emissions – win win!

Reduce your plastic use:

  • Buy loose vegetables or things jars or tins instead of plastic bottles or wrappers. Emissions from plastic use + issue of microplastics ending up in our diets. Reusable food containers & water bottles or coffee cups e.g. for picnics

Everything is connected. It’s just difficult to see how sometimes. But what we do in Shropshire can impact others in the world in more ways than you might think.

[1]   Beyond Scarcity: Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa – The World Bank [PUBLICATION AUGUST 23, 2017]


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