Climate Change and Rhinos

Thursday 04 November 2021

With COP26, the United Nations summit on climate change in full swing we need to see ACTIONS from the world’s leaders who have gathered in Glasgow. There are some encouraging early signs with promises to eliminate deforestation and commitments to net zero - but it is time to fulfil those commitments and not leave future generations with yet more broken promises! 

Below we explore why climate change is important and why we must reverse the devastating impact we are having on the very thing that keeps us alive as well as explain what Helping Rhinos are doing to create and protect a Rhino Strongholds - an initiate that aims to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

CLIMATE CHANGE - WHAT CAUSES IT?



OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS

Tectonic plate movement and weathering

OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS
Changes in the Earth's orbit

OVER THE LAST FEW DECADES
Humans

YEAR TO YEAR
Ocean warming / cooling cycles and volcanoes

Today the climate is changing around
20 times faster than in the past.

This is mainly down to us!




UPSETTING THE BALANCE

As CO2 rises so does the temperature. We've increased the Earth's temperature by around 1C since 1880, mainly through burning fossil fuels. Two thirds of that warming has happened since 1975.

It's thought the Earth is now the hottest it's been in 115,000 years.

The latest climate models suggest that it could warm by a further 0.5C to 5C by the end of the century - depending on our actions now.

The future is ours to invent.
We can all do something.

The Climate - How it Works

 

 

Changes in heat coming in, going out or moving around is (generally speaking) what controls the Earth's climate

 

WHAT WARMS IT UP?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2), water vapour (H2O), methane (CH4) and other greenhouse gasses.

WHAT COOLS IT DOWN?
White surfaces (ice, clouds) and some particles and aerosols reflect light (heat) back to space.

WHAT DOES THE OZONE LAYER DO?
It forms a protective shield high up in the atmosphere that helps filter out UV light.


LIFE SUPPORT

The Earth's climate has stayed within a safe enough range for life (of some form) to exist for the last 3.8 billion years.


CARBON DIOXIDE - WHAT'S THE STORY

 

Atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest they've been for 4 million years.
 
CO2 was under 300 parts per million (0.03%) for at least 800,000 years, but then a change took place:


 

Small changes have a big effect. As CO2 concentrations rise, so does the Earth's temperature.

Changing the gases changes the climate.

CO2 in the air varies as follows:

DAILY
Daytime: CO2 falls. Plants absorb it during photosynthesis.

Nightime: CO2 rises. Plants, like animals, release CO2 day and night during respiration.

YEARLY
Concentrations are lower in the summer (more plant growth) and higher in winter (less plant growth).

AIR - it keeps us alive

 

 
TROPOSPHERE
Where weather happens and where the gases that keep us alive are found:

  • O2: Oxygen (21%) - to breathe
  • N2: Nitrogen (78%) - a source of raw materials
  • H2O: Water Vapour (variable - makes clouds and rain and warms or cools the air
  • CO2: Carbon Dioxide (0.04%) - friend and foe. A source of raw materials and an air warmer (too much = too hot for comfort)

If the world had no Co2 the average temperature would be -18C. Today the world's average temperature is 15C.


IT'S DYNAMIC

The amount of each gas in the air changes every second yet on average it stays pretty much the same. In simple terms:

  • We breathe in Oxygen (O2). Plants (and some microbes) replenish it.
  • We breathe our Carbon Dioxide CO2. Plants (and some microbes) absorb it.
 It's a delicate balance

"Nature is a key ally. Wherever we restore the wild it will recapture carbon and help us bring back balance to our planet. Our motivation should not be fear, but hope.

In my lifetime I have witnessed a terrible decline. In yours you could, and should, witness a wonderful recovery"

Sir David Attenborough
COP26 Summit, Glasgow 2021

HOW CAN WE HELP?

CLIMATE CHANGE, THE HUMAN RACE AND NATURE

Our economies, livelihoods, well-being and the health of the planet all depend on our most precious asset: Nature.

We have collectively failed to engage with Nature sustainably, to the extent that our demands far exceed its capacity to supply us with the goods and services we all rely on.

Our unsustainable engagement with Nature is endangering the prosperity of current and future generations.

At the heart of the problem lies deep-rooted, widespread institutional failure.

The solution starts with understanding and accepting a simple truth: our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it.

PROTECTING RHINOS AND THE PLANET

Increasing pressure on wild spaces from human population growth in key rhino range states is reducing available rhino habitat and severely impacting on natural migratory behaviours. Half the forecast human population increase by 2100 will take place in Africa according to a 2012 United Nations report.

Maintaining viable rhino populations that have the freedom to roam in their natural habitat, when the pressures on land and natural resources are increasing at such a rapid rate, is a constant challenge. There is an urgent need to restore habitats back to their natural state while simultaneously ensuring protection processes are in place and providing a sustainable improved livelihood for the local communities.