By Cacai Buenviaje

Many animals die every year due to heat-related incidents: dogs being left in closed vehicles, farm animals suffering from heat stress due to overcrowding and dehydration, and wildlife being caught in the middle of sustained forest fires. These can all be prevented and we, on an individual level, can help mitigate these issues.

But what happens when temperatures rise even more as the climate crisis worsens? What happens when we neglect to do our part?

Hellishly hot

(Illustration by Mike De Leon/Animal Scene)

In a release called “Planet at risk of heading towards ‘Hothouse Earth’,” the Stockholm Resilience Centre referenced a study made by a group of international scientists which states that even if our carbon emission reductions are met, “There is still a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “HothousPLANTBASEDe Earth conditions.”

Lead author Will Steffen said, “Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called ‘feedbacks,’ that can drive further warming – even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases.” It creates a domino effect, so to speak, which includes permafrost thaw, loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor, weakening land and ocean carbon sinks, increasing bacterial respiration in the oceans, Amazon rainforest dieback, boreal forest dieback, reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover, loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

“Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system,” Steffen said. And we need to act with urgency.

“‘A Hothouse Earth’ climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4.-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea levels 10-60 meters higher than today.”

Turning the thermostat down

Natural disasters are more likely to happen: We are now seeing climate change trigger a series of events that include volcanism, warming oceans, prolonged forest fires, and continuous melting of Arctic ice, among many others, and these are already taking a devastating toll on nonhuman animals who are left vulnerable as they depend on nature for survival.

We might feel helpless standing up against corporations who continue to contribute to climate change – they burn fossil fuels for energy and animal agriculture, and they intentionally set fire to rainforests to make way for ranching – but it can be done. They endanger people, nonhuman animals, and the environment in the process. People can stand up against them through simple choices made everyday.

1. Watch what (and who) you consume

Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations show that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation combined.

Removing nonhuman animals products in what we eat, wear and use will not only help bring down the temperature in the long run but also immediately save animals in the wild and in farms.

2. Go for renewable energy

Burning fossil fuel emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trap heat into the Earth’s atmosphere, accelerating climate change. The Natural Resources Defense Council suggests switching to solar or win-powered electricity to lessen carbon footprint.

Strive to green your home, too, by choosing energy-saving appliances.

3. Rethink transportation

According to an article by Mike Berners-Lee for the New Internationalist, the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector is planes, then cars.

To cut transportation emissions, Berners-Lee suggests flying and driving less, or refrain from flying and driving altogether if possible. “Try walking, cycling, public transport, car shares, and working from home.”

4. Get active

Let your voice be heard! Share information and educate family and friends. Encourage your local government to do their part by signing petitions or joining environmental campaigns that lobby for green solutions.

Join your local Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future groups. There’s strength in numbers, so they say; To quote vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg, “We are the ones making a difference – we the people in Extinction Rebellion and the children’s School Strike for the Climate – we are the ones making a difference.”

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s September-October 2020 issue.

You might want to read:
– Soil animals are getting smaller in size due to climate change
– More than 200 reindeer found dead in Norway, researchers say climate change is to blame
– Are your pets ready for climate change?