The climate crisis is undoubtedly the most pressing concern the planet and its inhabitants face today. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) landmark report, Global warming of 1.5 °C, suggests that urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target of global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C, which they say is affordable and feasible. If not met further catastrophic environmental changes are predicted.
Evidence regarding the existence, and ecological devastation, of climate change has been presented by scientists since the 1970s, most notably Wallace Smith Broecker who raised early alarms about climate change and popularised the term “global warming”. The substantial existing body of evidence is clear and requires immediate action from governments and corporations, alongside a shift in individual consumption culture. Samantha believes that citizens must hold those in power accountable to seriously and swiftly act to reduce carbon emissions.
NASA's global climate change website has accessible information with evidence, causes, and effects of global climate change if you would like to learn more. Without radical reform in humans' consumption of natural resources the race will self-inflict the greatest humanitarian crisis upon themselves, in addition to
devastating the habitats and food chain of co-existing beings of flora and fauna. Globally, Earth has already entered the sixth extinction event, marking the change from Holocene to Anthropocene.
In climate change governance, Samantha supports The Paris Agreement in principle but believes greater measures are needed to truly achieve the 1.5°C warming target and she criticises the lack of legal accountability of participating countries. Similarly, Samantha criticises the EU Kyoto Protocol for utilising a free market model, therefore merely shifting responsibility for carbon emission reductions to other countries and for not fundamentally tackling the root causes of the climate change problem. Samantha supports the Contraction and Convergence concept as a plausible intermediate measure, though she strongly believes that long-term solutions lie in radical global reform of economics and energy production. Namely, progress to a non-capitalist economic system and invest exclusively in non-carbon energy sources and consumption. The most effective way to support large scale changes are to lobby for political action. Samantha as such is an active supporter of the Extinction Rebellion movement,. Extinction Rebellion is an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency
"All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder — and ultimately impossible - to solve with ever more people." – Sir David Attenborough, Population Matters patron. Samantha believes that human rights, and by extension reproductive rights, are not mutually exclusive with global population planning to limit net population growth. She recognises currently there are huge inequalities within women's reproductive rights. These result in horrific biases along financial, ethnic, country, and even religious lines as certain populations of women are unable to access full, safe, unbiased contraception and sexual health advice. (You can read a wealth of reports on these issues by the Centre of Reproductive Rights). Samantha advocates for the need for free, accessible, unbiased contraception for all females, and calls for the male contraceptive pill, gel, and injection to continue pharmaceutical development and be brought to market. Samantha fully supports a global adaptation of legislating for a child-limit policy, similar to (but altered, considering the above) China's two-child policy.
Samantha stipulates that fundamental requirements needed to support these population control measures are threefold. Firstly, contraception advice and dissemination must be unbiased to avoid further perpetuating existing problems and enabling widespread sanctioned eugenics. Secondly, enforcement of child-limit legislation must be holistic. This would include measures to protect female reproductive rights (e.g. abortion, forced pregnancy, forced sterilisation, access to fertility treatments), protection against foetus sex discrimination, protection against by-product decrease in ethnic minority groups, and protection of the adoption and fostering process. Third, moving to a non-capitalist economic model would automatically support a natural population plateau. Without exponential growth needed in a work force, the population would have no incentive to grow exponentially too. Abolition of capitalism would also abolish the large proportion of unpaid domestic and care work typically undertaken by women.
In the wake of the WWF 2018 Living Planet report and landmark scientific review paper Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. It is clear that Earth's biodiversity is dwindling. Particularly, without pollinating insects (bees, moths, butterflies) the numbers of flowering plants will decrease and human crop yields will suffer , leading to a shortage of certain foods and malnutrition, in addition to decreased biodiversity. Moreover, a decline in total insect population affects the mammalian pollinators (bats) that feed on them, further exacerbating the pollination problem. The landmark paper cited above suggests that:
"Habitat restoration, coupled with a drastic reduction in agro-chemical inputs and agricultural ‘redesign’, is probably the most effective way to stop further declines, particularly in areas under intensive agriculture.... For aquatic insects, rehabilitation of marshlands and improved water quality are a must for the recovery of biodiversity. This may require the implementation of effective remediation technologies to clean the existing polluted waters . However, priority should be given to reducing the contamination by runoff and leaching of toxic chemicals, particularly pesticides." - Sanchez-Bayo and Wyckhus, Biological conservation, 2018
Samantha supports all lobbying activities to governments that will enable these changes. At the individual level, Samantha believes the most effective action is to create pollinator-friendly green areas wherever possible, such as planting wildflowers. And also by making conscientious food choices opposing intensive agriculture,animal products, and synthetic pesticide use wherever possible.
Samantha believes that for long-term climate sustainability, humans must move away from carbon-based fuels and invest exclusively in non-carbon energy sources. Ideally, fusion power (from controlled nuclear fusion reactions) once realised, would become an important energy source, and could simultaneously redistribute global political power. It represents a zero-carbon, combustion-free source of energy, with little nuclear waste and increased safety. Fusion is yet to be achieved, the most promising ongoing efforts are from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France, and the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in the USA. Immediately achievable is the option to exploit existing renewable energy sources. The REN21 global futures report is a fantastic resource that presents the complex and nuanced opinions and discussions of energy experts from all over the world. In 12 debates it examines the feasibility of the goal of reaching a 100% renewable energy future, and what is the likelihood of doing so by mid-21st century. This would in turn positively impact the transport sector, that currently is the largest contributor to climate change.
Further related ambitions include working towards a zero waste society. This requires radical change to production, consumption and waste/recycling in addition to rethinking infra-structure such as transport services and architecture. As discussed throughout, energy source and consumption changes must be legislated at national and global government levels in order to be truly effective. Individual steps the population can take to contribute towards a zero carbon footprint can include: taking low carbon travel options where possible, eating locally sourced food where possible - considering adopting a plant based diet, contributing towards ecobricks, recycling where possible, and replacing single use materials with long-term replaceables (trash is for tossers provides inspiration for living a waste-free life).