Scientists at Sea Podcast – Climate Change, why don’t people act? With Catherine Leyshon

Show Notes

In the last episode we spoke with Paul Butler and Annette Broderick about climate change and how this impacts their work on bivalves and turtles respectively. We also discussed some of the key points of the IPCC’s latest climate change report. If you would like to check that out, click here.

This time, we’re taking a slightly different approach in a chat we had with Professor of Human Geography, Catherine Leyshon. Specifically, we discussed the reasons why, in the face of overwhelming evidence, we appear to do very little in response.

The discussion ranges from why people might struggle to make small, every day changes, right through to governmental/international levels.


“We’re not really set up as a society to reward good behaviour, we tend to sanction bad behaviour”


Why don’t some actions work?

Australia’s Green tax:

The Great Barrier Reef is rapidly disappearing due to climate change.
Photo credit – Toby Hudson

This seemed like a good idea in principle, but ultimately didn’t work out, we’ve collected a few pieces relating to this. You can read about what the taxes were, what impact they had, why they were abandoned, and what has happened as a result:

What was the emissions tax?

“Australia records biggest emissions drop in a decade as carbon tax kicks in”

“Australia abandons disastrous green tax on emissions”

“Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions soar in latest figures”

 


What actions might work?

Mullion Harbour Wall in a storm
Photo credit: Layla Astley

Shifting Shores

In the UK we are seeing some changes. For example, the National Trust have introduced their Shifting Shores project, where they will now be focusing on adapting to changes at their coastal sites, rather than trying to prevent change.

For those of us in Cornwall, Mullion harbour wall is a particularly relevant example, you can read about the challenges the National Trust have faced with this here.

In 2012, Catherine co-authored a paper going into greater depth about this, which you can find here: Shifting Shores: Managing Challenge and Change on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK


As Ethan mentioned in the episode, we are seeing some other actions, such as: Dutch parliament to set target of 95 percent CO2 reduction by 2050. There are several other areas covered in the episode, but to find out more you’ll need to give it a listen!


You can also read the IPCC Climate Change Press Release in full here.


Associate Professor Catherine Leyshon:

Catherine is a human geographer whose work combines landscape ecology, social relations and climate change. Catherine’s work on climate change is interesting for many reasons, but one aspect that really makes it stand out is its focus on local communities here in Cornwall. Studies can all too often focus on the distant impacts of climate change, but numerous studies from Catherine help to highlight the potential changes occurring on our door step.

Twitter: @cleyshon 

Link to Scholar list of publications


Hosted by Ethan Wrigglesworth

Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson and Ethan Wrigglesworth

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

Scientists at Sea Podcast – Climate Change, Turtles, and Bivalves

Show Notes

In this episode Ethan and Ben discuss the latest Climate Change Report released by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), with Professor Annette Broderick and Dr. Paul Butler. As well as covering key points of the report, Annette and Paul tell us about how climate change is a significant aspect of their current research.

 

About our guests:

Annette Broderick – Professor of Marine Conservation

Profile

Annette’s research investigates the exploitation of marine vertebrates, with a primary focus on marine turtles. The thermal environment is particularly important for turtles, so the potential effects of climate change could have a big impact on these populations. Listen to the episode to find out more.

If you’re interested in turtle conservation, Annette runs a long-term field study in northern Cyprus which takes on volunteers each year, you can find out more here

 

“The most biodiverse habitats in the world that we have are on the reefs, we’re going to lost those systems undoubtedly I think by 2040/2050 we’ll be talking about corals reefs and how beautiful they were.”

 

 

 

Dr. Paul Butler – Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Profile

Paul’s research is in the field of sclerochronology, focusing in particular on the use of shells from long-lived bivalve molluscs to study the history of the marine environment. Essentially, these molluscs deposit annual increments in their shells (like rings on a tree stump). If a bivalve shell has a known date of death, a timeline of environmental variables can be investigated from that one shell, including seawater temperature and the origin of water masses. This can be of particular interest when studying climate change. Have a listen to the episode and take a look at Paul’s profile for more information.

 

 

Want to know more about sclerochronology and some intriguing clam facts? Sarah Holmes, PhD Researcher, wrote an excellent blog about this a few months ago, you can read it in full here.

 

 

Arctica islandica, one of Paul’s study species
Photo – Hans Hillewaert

 

 

Our longest chronology, which goes for 1300 years, is for waters of the north coast of Iceland… essentially we’ve got a temperature record… over the past 1000 years it shows a declining temperature up to about 150 years ago and then it shows a rapid increase

 

 

What is the IPCC?

The IPCC was established 30 years ago by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide a scientific view of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

What is the IPCC Climate Change Report?

In December 2015 the Paris climate agreement was signed whereupon countries agreed that they would keep global temperatures “well below two degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees C”. The UN asked the IPCC to produce a special report to assess the feasibility of keeping global temperature rises to a maximum of 1.5C.

Scientists are nominated by governments and international institutions. In this particular report there we 91 lead authors from 40 countries which reviewed 6,000 references. This work is unpaid.

Where do we stand right now?

Currently we are on track to reach 1.5C warming between 2030 and 2052, and 3C by 2100.

If we hit just 2C warming, this could have serious impacts, here are just a handful:

  • Almost all coral reefs will be destroyed.
  • The arctic will have summers with no ice at least once a decade.
  • Huge numbers of animals and plants will become extinct.
  • Low-lying coastal regions, such as Bangladesh, will suffer from sea level rise.

 

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. – IPCC Press Release

 

There has been extensive coral bleaching already due to sea temperature rise
Photo – Acropora

Can we avoid this?

Yes, but we have just 12 years to turn it around and serious change is required. You can read more about that here.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. – IPCC Press Release

You can read the IPCC Climate Change Press Release in full here.

 

Hosted by Ethan Wrigglesworth

Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!