This is always a hotly debated topic – are we slowly killing our planet or not, is global warming real?
Well fact or fiction the recent OECD report, “Environmental Outlook to 2050: The consequences of inaction”, offers a rather bleak outlook on the future if we don’t change our ways.
This is obviously ‘only a view’ but even if only some of it is accurate it is still rather worrying! Some of the bullet points are set out below should provide some food for thought! – let’s face it, even if you don’t believe the in global warming there are still issues here that need addressing;
- Energy: World energy demand in 2050 will be 80 per cent higher than today, with most of the growth coming from emerging economies. Without a change in policy, up to 85 per cent of our power will come from fossil fuels.
- Emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions will increase 50 per cent, driven in large part by a 70 per cent rise in energy-related CO2 emissions (see point 1).
- Temperature: Without a radical shift in policy, the world is on course to experience a six degree rise in temperatures by 2050, far surpassing the two degrees scientific consensus considers to be ‘safe’.
- Forests: Mature forests, safe-havens for biodiversity, are set to shrink by 13 per cent as agriculture expands. However, climate change is set to become the fastest driver of forest loss by 2050.
- Water: Global water demand is set to rise by 55 per cent, mainly due to a 400 per cent increase in consumption for manufacturing. Around 40 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of water stress by 2050.
- Waste: 1.4 billion people will still be without access to basic sanitation in 40 years’ time, and nutrient pollution from urban wastewater and agriculture is expected to worsen in almost all regions.
- Air quality: Air pollution is set to become the world’s top environmental cause of premature mortality and, by 2050, exposure to particulate matter is forecast to result in more than 3.6 million premature deaths.
- Cost: Delayed action to tackle environmental issues could mean the cost of mitigating environmental damage will go up by 50 per cent, while acting immediately to lower emissions up to 70 per cent by 2050 would take just 5.5 per cent of global GDP per year.
Not good reading is it! Even if the above is an extreme version of what we can actually expect (and who is to say that it is or isn’t), things are certainly going to get more interesting on the planet. It is time to act now more than ever!