What are you doing for our next generation?
Last Sunday (12 August) was International Youth Day - a day designated by the UN for the "annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth."
This got us thinking, not only about the problems facing the world's youth, but also about the problems facing the youth's world.
It's getting hot in here…
A recent study (1) showed what our future generations may face if we allow our climate to run into a "Hothouse Earth" pathway. The paper itself is quite a long read, but essentially, if we allow our planet's temperature to continue to rise above a tipping point (around 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels), the Earth's self-stabilising (temperature regulating) feedback loops may be broken, and temperatures will spiral out of our control, leading to much more variable and potentially extreme climates.
As noted by the authors, "Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and dangerous to many… and it poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability (especially for the most climate vulnerable), and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."
Staying in control
Given the current rate of change, sticking to the Paris Accord targets might only just be sufficient to keep our Earth under control. The authors noted 3 main ways to do this: reduce greenhouse gas emissions; sink more carbon (e.g. protect forests and plant trees); and change the Earth's energy balance. While the latter options are not something we can all do, reducing emissions is definitely something all of us can contribute to, and we needn't sacrifice our quality of life to do this.
Transportation accounts for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions globally (and much higher in some countries) (2), and we can have a significant impact simply by being smart about how we choose to get around cities. Small changes, such as cycling, walking, or taking public transport instead of driving, can all help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is even a multitude of benefits to be gained from being more active.
Safe Spaces for Youth
This year's International Youth Day focussed on "Safe Spaces for Youth" - places where young people can come together to pursue their needs and interests, and where they can feel safe to be themselves - and we think that this needs to include a safe habitat for them to live in too. After all, what use is it for our next generations to feel safe expressing themselves if they are not safe from their environment?
While we can't profess to have made any difference yet, we have set our goals to make cities more enjoyable, healthier and cleaner by providing the tools to allow people to change the way they move around.
How about you? What are you doing for our next generation?
(1) Steffen W, Rockström J, Richardson K, Lenton TM, Folke C, Liverman D, Summerhayes CP, Barnosky AD, Cornell SE, Crucifix M, Donges JF, Fetzer I, Lade SJ, Scheffer M, Winkelmann R, Schellnhuber HJ (2018) Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug 2018, 201810141. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115
(2) Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)] (2014) Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC, 2014. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/
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