"Happy Earth Day" (or even better) "Happy Earth Year"
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we can watch a rapidly growing global awareness of how important our Planet Earth is for our well-being, sustainable development and learn how unique and precious Life on Earth is.
As we cope with the global pandemic, we learn how quickly governments and societies can respond to an acute crisis. Finally, the perception of climate & environmental change as an acute and global crisis is being recognised by everyone, from individual human beings to world leaders. We all are part of the solution and we all can help to build a sustainable future by our actions as individuals, families, communities, businesses and governments.
Complex problems require holistic solutions
The UN Sustainable Development Goals describe what we need to achieve in the next 10 years for a sustainable future and thriving humanity.
New emerging economic models like the “Doughnut Economy” describe how we as humanity can thrive by re-defining our current failing economic models to generate prosperity instead of only financial wealth whilst living within our means defined by the planetary boundaries and the social foundation.
The striking common element of the UN SDG’s and Doughnut economics is that all 17 goals and all economic elements of the doughnut are all inter-related and connected in a complex web of interdependencies. Thus, we need “holistic solutions” tackling climate, environmental and societal problems at the same time to shape the future of humanity whilst sustaining our planet.
The good news is that all our solutions are well understood and more than 80% of all solutions to tackle climate change are already in place and ready to deploy now. A group of international researchers has documented and assessed the potential environmental and economic benefits of existing solutions. Based on their research, “Project Drawdown” describes the top 100 climate change solution.
Most strikingly, the top 100 solutions of C02 reduction span the whole range of technological, environmental and societal sectors and demonstrate brilliantly that tackling the climate crisis will not put pressure on our activities but will improve our lives, environmental and societal foundations at the same time.
The top 10 C02 reduction solutions all can save between 90 Gt to 25 Gt of CO2 eq. till 2050 and show the diversity of solutions at hand. Energy & technology solutions (4/10) include new climate friendly refrigeration, onshore wind turbines, solar farms and roof-top solar. Food and land use changes (4/10) include food waste reduction, plant-rich diet, protection of tropical forests and silvopasture. Most strikingly, societal solutions like girl education (6th) and family planning (7th) which improve equality & diversity of individuals and communities, are two of the top 10 solutions as well.
For Earth Scientists, every day is Earth Day
As earth scientists, we all feel closely connected to our home, Planet Earth, and Life on Earth, be it in the past, present or future. As a holistic natural science, we appreciate the complexity, dynamic changes and connectivity of life on our planet and our changing environments.
In the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, we see the urgency and need for immediate and sustained action spanning research, education and outreach. We are transforming Earth Sciences@RHUL towards Sustainable Geosciences by aligning Teaching & Research with UN SDG’s and UNISDR SENDAI framework and thrive to educate graduate scientists for relevant careers in support of societal and economic transition for a sustainable future.
We are excited to deliver our new UG Degrees “BSC Geosciences & Sustainable Energy” and “Earth, Climate & Environmental Change” starting this September. Since 2020, our international recognised MSc Energy Geosciences degree offers a “Renewable Georesources” stream covering topics like the energy transition, geothermal energy, subsurface carbon storage and subsurface renewable energy storage.
We are founding members of the new UK Center of MSc Training “Energy Transition” and the GeoNetZero Center for Doctoral Training: "Geoscience and its place in the low-carbon energy transition”
We are very excited about our planet and the opportunities ahead not only for us in academic education & research but our mutual journey ahead to contribute to a sustainable future and thriving society.
Just remember, for us “Every Day is Earth Day”. If we keep this in the forefront of our decision and actions, we can and will build a thriving future for us all and our planet.