We've hit the 'make or break' point against climate change. Here's what you can do.
via Maher Najm / Flickr

A devastating new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the average global temperature will rise by at least 1.5°C, relative to the 1850-1900 average, by 2050. The world has already warmed 1.1°C so another increase by 0.4°C seems inevitable.

Keeping global temperatures from rising 1.5°C was a major target outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Doing so would prevent a rise in sea levels, droughts, heatwaves, flash floods, and wildfires.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, called the report "code red for humanity."

The IPCC believes that the temperature target of 1.5°C may be reached sometime between 2030 and 2035, up to a decade sooner than previously thought. Even if the entire planet came together to create the "lowest pathway" of future emissions, the 1.5°C-degree threshold would be exceeded.

However, if as a planet, we eventually reduce global emissions to net zero and took proactive steps to remove carbon from the air — such as planting trees — global temperatures could be brought back below the 1.5°C threshold.

Writers of the report stress that if "strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases" occur then the disastrous effects of climate change can be avoided.

The report comes before leaders in the U.S. and Europe are set to meet this November in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference where they will discuss enacting stricter measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"The new IPCC report contains no real surprises," climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted. "It confirms what we already know from thousands [of] previous studies and reports — that we are in an emergency. It's a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science.

"It doesn't tell us what to do," she added. "It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis."

This alarming report isn't just a call for the world's governments to step up and take dramatic action but another that we're all responsible for the planet, too. We have reached a make-or-break moment for mother Earth so it's important for everyone to come together to do what we can to help stop climate change.

The best way that an individual can combat the crisis is by cutting down on gas consumption and switching to an electric car. Another way to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint is by using energy created by solar or wind. Putting solar panels on your residence can greatly reduce your carbon footprint while saving you money as well.

There are also small changes we can make that have a big impact. You can cut down on your petrochemical use by buying fewer single-use plastics and bottled water. The beef industry is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases, so by reducing your red meat intake consumption you can make a real difference.

You can even fight for the planet by changing how you dress. Synthetic clothing materials are derived from petrochemicals that are harmful to the environment and cotton requires a massive amount of water to produce.

By buying used clothing you can also help in the fight against climate change.

Today's UN report is the "strongest statement the IPCC has ever made," Ko Barrett, the panel's vice-chair and senior advisor on climate to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters.

Over the past few decades, there have been a series of wake-up calls about the dangers of climate change and, so far, they haven't inspired the policy necessary to combat the crisis. Hopefully, today's report will not only spur our leaders to dramatic action but empower everyone to take responsibility for their contributions to the crisis as well.

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19

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