“The current damage taking place on earth is the equivalent to 5 atomic bombs going off every second” explains Dr Emily Grossman, Honorary STEM Ambassador, internationally acclaimed science author, public speaker and TV personality, at the IET Central London Network Christmas webinar hosted by David Tabor.

Global temperature records started in about 1850, the last 4 years have had the highest average hottest years recorded. This means that since the start of the industrial revolution, the Earth has increased its heat energy by 1°C - that's like 5 atomic bombs going off every second - and this trend is increasing. Other trends show that whilst solar radiation is not increasing, CO2 levels are proportionally increasing to align with the 1 degree heat increase, prompting Milankovitch-Cycle theories to be discarded as we can now assign a human-fingerprint on climate change.

What does this mean? In just 100 years, fossil fuel use has undone 5000 years worth of natural cooling – it's simple, we are overloading the earth whose own self-regulation cycles are unable to keep up. This is real and happening now explains Dr Grossman: Just look at the new weather patterns across the globe, more frequent floods, storms, mega-droughts, wildfires, heat waves and rainfall. It is now being quantitatively observed that melting ice is correlated with sea rising levels - ice sheets continue to diminish and affect societies that depend on glacier freshwater. Other impacts are;

  • Damage to ocean life is now widespread, with an increase in oxygen dead zones identified due to marine heat waves killing sea-life and coral reefs.

  • Impact to humans as the battles for food and increased diseases will spread as these irregularities are affecting climate, human and animal ecosystems.

  • Deforestation in the Amazon has observed that three football fields’ worth of trees are felled for human products or food every minute. Thus, we have fewer trees to soak up CO2 and when we do burn felled forests, we re-release the CO2 stored within the trees!

  • We have lost around a third of our soils due to intensive agriculture. Nature takes 500 years to replenish just 2.5 cm of fertile top soil and we are destroying it far faster than it can be replaced.

In today’s world of statistics, it expressed that more than 80% of farmland is used for livestock that only produces just 18% of food calories and 37% of protein. The statistics show that having a vegan diet will better help the climate than simply cutting down flights and using electric vehicles.

Animal evolution is also affected where 1 in 4 mammals are now looking at extinction. Animal migration is also changing crop cycles and thus crop yields are impacted due to new weather conditions, fertile soil loss and less insects being able to perform pollination - in short, a million species are facing extinction in the next few decades (something that humans rely on) because of loss of habitats, pollution and a 1°C heat increase,

At current heating rates, by 2100 we are expected to become 3 - 4 degrees hotter. For just a 50:50 chance to stay below 1.5 degrees heat increase we need: Stronger emission cuts, net zero commitments and transformation of energy, industry, aviation, transport, building, agriculture forestry industries. Even if we use Negative-Emission-Technologies, they currently do not have the capacity to compensate for what changes we need to see today (2020), so that means we really need to see a 15% reduction in emissions every year, starting now.

A very emotive webinar that highlights the emergency on planet earth. Get more insights by reviewing the entire webinar on the IET Central London Youtube channel here and download the presentation from here. You can also read more about Dr Grossman being named a Honorary STEM Ambassador here alongside astronaut Tim Peake (who too has spoken at an IET event !)

Robert Heaton