Our New Year resolutions should include saving the planet

1 Januari 2020

People worldwide have made their New Year resolutions along the lines of giving up cigarettes, cutting down on carbohydrates, drinking less and exercising more.

Collectively, we should make another resolution for 2020, two prominent environmentalists say: save the planet from the worst effects of manmade climate change. This year is the “last chance” we have to set about tackling the root causes of climate change, according to two prominent experts at as many government agencies in the United Kingdom.

“As we start the New Year, it’s clear that 2020 is our last chance to bring the world together to take decisive action on climate change in order to protect our communities and reverse the alarming loss of wildlife we have witnessed in recent years,” stress Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, and Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency.

Unless concerted global action is taken, the effects of climate change will be more and more devastating in years to come, they warn. [T]he twin emergencies of climate change and degradation of the natural environment are not only future threats of unprecedented scale but that they are already causing dire consequences,” Juniper and Howard Boyd say.

They cite the findings of a new report that shows that 41% of wildlife species across the United Kingdom have declined over the past half century. Of the 8,418 species assessed, according to the report, 15% are at risk of extinction, including kittiwakes, Arctic skuas and Scottish wildcats. “However, it’s not all bad news, tens of thousands of volunteers collected the data for the report, simply due to a love of nature. Thanks to them, it was made possible – but it’s clear there’s still much to do,” the report notes.

Climate change is a global problem, which by necessity requires global solutions. “[T]he environmental challenges we face are fundamentally connected to one another,” Juniper and Howard Boyd note. “Climate change is causing damage to ecosystems, such as the droughts which are wrecking chalk rivers and wetlands, while the degradation of the natural environment, such as deforestation and drainage of peatlands, is leading to the emissions that cause climate change.”

And climate change isn’t our only global problem. So are plastic pollution, deforestation and overfishing, among other harmful trends. We’re fast reaching tipping points with each of these issues, yet it isn’t too late yet to reverse these trends. Encouragingly, more and more nations are enacting policies to cut down on their emissions, phase out single-use plastic products, and protect their forests and seas.

The New Year offers a perfect opportunity to start mending our ways and to buckle down to saving the planet, and ourselves, from any further self-inflicted wounds.

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