The best way to protect biodiversity is to slow down global climate change – and UN researchers say this means limiting rises of planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
We put stress on the planet primarily from what we eat, buy, how we power our homes and travel from place to place, as well as through government policies and protections.
Experts agree that we can help by limiting our individual carbon footprint to 2 tonnes (roughly 4,400 lbs) per year. But the current global average is about 4 tonnes per person.
Globally, about 31 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each day.
Awareness and education are the key to helping people understand what they can do to limit biodiversity loss and help recovery.
How well do you know planet Earth and the environmental challenges it is facing? Let’s find out with a quick “true or false” quiz.
The rate of mangrove forest loss is much higher than the destruction of all other global forests.
Mangroves store more carbon per unit area than any other ecosystem on Earth. While they cover only 0.1 per cent of the planet’s surface, they store up to 10 times more carbon than terrestrial forests. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, more than 35 per cent of the world’s mangroves are already gone, and in Americas they are being cleared at a rate faster than tropical rainforests.
A loss in biodiversity does not mean a loss in nutrients.
Biodiversity ensures that there are enough nutrients for both animals and plants. A loss in biodiversity also means a loss in nutrients on which all life depends.
Climate change is a natural process.
This is true, but the current increase in the average temperature of the planet since pre-industrial times (1.1. degrees Celsius) is happening at a rate that does not correspond with the natural cycles of the planet.
Desertification is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.
Nearly one fifth of the world’s land is threatened with desertification. It has been called one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.
Increasing the average temperature by a couple of degrees does no harm to animals and species.
What seems like a minimal change to humans will pose a huge problem for biodiversity and is detrimental to the survival of agriculture, flora, oceans and species of insects and animals.
Everyone can contribute to protecting the world’s biodiversity. Here are some tips on how you can make a difference by reducing your carbon footprint.
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to cut down on flights and car trips.
One long-haul flight can produce more carbon emissions than the average person produces in a year in some countries. A flight from London to New York produces around 985kg (2,175lbs) of carbon dioxide per passenger – more than the annual carbon emissions of citizens in 56 countries.
Consider going on eco-friendly trips where you take part in activities such as tree planting or irrigation building, and consider eco-friendly ways of travelling such as by bike, train and boat.
You should also think about using public transport, riding a bicycle or walking instead of driving.
The best way to protect biodiversity is to slow down global climate change – and UN researchers say this means limiting rises of planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
A study in The Lancet medical journal has called for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet.
It says that to save the Earth from a catastrophe we must reduce our red meat consumption by more than 50 per cent and double our intake of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Experts suggest that we consider a flexitarian diet, so instead of giving up all meat, we eat mostly plants and eat meat so long as we are mindful of what kind of meat we are eating and from where it comes.
Another way to cut our carbon footprint is to eat local produce – and those foods that are in season. A small carton of blueberries that is flown in can have a carbon footprint of 1kg of CO2.
Aside from the usual message to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste, there are many ways to cut our carbon footprint.
Some simple solutions include unplugging chargers that are not being used, replacing halogen bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs, and buying products with less packaging and composting.
The use of air conditioners is another thing to consider. Living in a hot climate leads many people to leave on air conditioners for longer than necessary, or set at a cooler temperature than necessary, which forces the devices to work harder.
About 20 per cent of total electricity use in buildings is attributed to air conditioners today. The devices are also increasing climate change problems because of the primary refrigerant they use, called hydrofluorocarbon.
Global warming is sparking greater demand for air-conditioner use, but it is also one of the culprits creating the demand.
Fast fashion has become part of our culture, but the industry’s production process expels 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – more than the aviation and shipping industries combined.
It also helps to promote a “wear it once and throw it away” attitude, which exacerbates climate change. Even discarded flimsy clothes can quickly build up into a million tonnes of waste a year, much of which ends up in landfills.
The marine environment is also affected by the fashion industry, with 35 per cent of microplastics found in the ocean the result of clothing.
Fast fashion also uses up about 79 billion cubic metres of fresh water when producing its clothes each year.
Studies show that if everyone extended the life of their clothes by three months to up to two years and five months, it could lead to a 5 to 10 per cent reduction in our carbon, water and waste footprints.
Pick another chapter:
The Earth’s rich biodiversity of plant and animal life is vital for the planet’s thriving societies and communities. The general insurer MSIG recognises its importance in securing our sustainable future. Check out how MSIG is making the protection of biodiversity part of its international mission, and the various sustainable initiatives and efforts now underway across its Asian markets:
Visit the SCMP graphics home page