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It is easy for people in the industrialised world to blame population growth elsewhere for environmental damage. But increased consumption is just as important – if more confronting.
Earth's has gone through major climate changes in the past. They happened on time scales of millions of years and triggered mass extinctions. Our emissions are changing the climate much faster.
Food choices make a difference to the climate impact of our diet. Every step towards eating a more plant-based diet results in lower emissions, better population health and reduced healthcare costs.
Plants take carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, but it goes straight back when they die or are harvested. There is an important difference between carbon fluxes and actual carbon sequestration.
A switch to electric transport is one of New Zealand's key climate strategies. It will increase demand on the national grid, but might also help increase renewable electricity generation.
Buildings soak up the sun's heat, but research shows that white roofs and surfaces can reduce temperatures inside, particularly during heat waves.
To keep temperatures from rising above 1.5℃ requires reducing fossil fuel burning by half by 2032.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries have registered plans to meet emissions reductions, but the current pledges, if fully realised, would take us to 2℃ by the 2050s.
Many developed countries already have significant waste-to-energy operations and therefore less material going to landfill.
Burning non-recyclable waste to generate energy sounds like a great idea – but incineration plants need an ongoing waste stream to be viable, which perpetuates the make-use-dispose mentality.
Many temperate crops require winter chilling to initiate flowering or fruit ripening, and orchards may need to shift to colder areas.
New Zealand is a net exporter of many fruit and vegetables. While climate-change induced food shortages are not an imminent risk, some crops may be affected by rising temperatures and extreme weather.
Planes can create clouds of tiny ice crystals, called contrails, and some studies suggest they could have an a significant effect on climate.
Globally, emissions from air travel account for only about 3% of the warming human activities are causing, but aviation affects our climate in a number of ways.
As sea levels rise, it becomes easier for ocean waves to spill further onto land.
For every ten centimetres of sea level rise, the chances of a 100-year coastal flood increase three-fold. This means we'll have to build flood defenses or retreat from the coast.
Rapid population growth and increased consumption are now seen as the main drivers of environmental changes.
Discussions about climate change often skirt around the issue of population growth, but it is the main driver of rising carbon dioxide levels and many other environmental changes on a planetary scale.
The atmosphere of Mars is thin and very dry.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
The atmosphere of Mars is more than 96% carbon dioxide, but the planet is cold because its atmosphere is extremely thin, very dry and further away from the Sun.
Rapid and voluminous volcanic eruptions around 252 million years ago can be linked with a mass extinction event.
There is evidence for catastrophic climate change from protracted volcanic eruptions in the past, but since the 1950s the emissions we produce far exceed those from volcanic activity.
The best way to compare emissions from electric cars is to assess all phases of a life cycle analysis.
In New Zealand, where more than 80% of electricity is renewable, the carbon footprint of electric cars is 62% lower than that of fossil cars. But their lithium battery has other environmental impacts.
Even people who accept the science of climate change sometimes resist it because it clashes with their personal projects.
People are more likely to deny climate change if they're inclined toward hierarchy, have lower levels of education or are more religious. But the strongest predictor of denial is a person's politics.
Eating less meat is one change many of us can make to reduce our contribution to climate change.
Individual actions to reduce emissions are important in two ways. First, they have an immediate impact, and secondly, adopting low-carbon life choices sends a clear message to political leaders.
Research into low-carbon planes is underway, but we won’t see electric long-haul flights any time soon.
DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL
Unlike a car, you can't just stick a battery-powered engine in a plane and expect it to fly. Despite that, small planes might be the future of electric flight.
Polls show the gap between conservatives and liberals is widening on the issue of climate change.
Vehicle emissions and industrial facilities are contributing to climate change, but many conservatives don't believe it.
Power station in South Africa.
More and more evidence has accumulated which shows that changes in global and regional climate over the last 50 years are almost entirely due to human influence.