By Vivienne Duffy
We’ve all heard the term global warming, and we’ve heard of the effects it has on our environment. The United Nations defines climate change as “the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns.” These changes can occur naturally, but since the 1800’s, our Earth has been slowly changing due to human activities, including the use of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil that emit carbon dioxide. The CO2 from these fossil fuels collects in the Earth’s atmosphere, and while some of the planet’s heat normally can escape into space, the excess CO2 in the atmosphere now traps the heat so it can’t escape. This process is called Global Warming, also known as the Greenhouse Effect.
Climate change is the greatest challenge to humanity. We are already familiar with the effects it has on our environment, including desertification, drought, land degradation, freshwater scarcity, and loss of our biodiversity. We see and hear on the news of the consequences and repeated reminders of heatwaves, droughts, floods, loss of our glaciers, and rise in sea levels. Scientists believe that climate change could lead to the death of 250,000 people every year, and force more into poverty by the year 2030.
As part of the UN’s response to global warming, they have developed a document about transforming our world– the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This document is a plan of action for people and governments to transition for a sustainable future. It highlights 17 sustainable development goals and targets, which will help in the preservation of our environment now and for future generations. The SDGs cover a wide range of objectives, from ending poverty and reducing inequality to protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
I chose to focus on goal number 15, which is to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of our ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse degradation and biodiversity loss. 15.1 and 15.3 emphasise restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland water systems. 15.3 concerns itself with restoring degradation, land, and soil, and achieving a land-degradation neutral world. Other goals also include land health and better farming techniques, like crop rotation and ending the excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides that deplete the soil of its nutrients.