Threats. Challenges that are inextricably linked.
Effectively addressing the world's environmental challenges requires much more than keeping excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. We believe technology-based solutions require a human-centric approach to address other inextricably linked issues that threaten humanity and planetary health.
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” - UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity, or anthropogenic emissions, are the fundamental cause of global climate change. According to the IPCC’s latest report, the “combined effects of human activity have already increased the global average temperature by about 1.1°C above the late 19th-century average.” In order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the Glasgow Pact officially recognized that emissions have to be reduced by at least 45% by 2030.
Our global, single-use material resource system is one of the root causes of environmental degradation. The way humans currently extract, process, produce, consume and dispose of materials and waste must change immediately.
Our global material resource system is predicated on the extraction, production, use, and disposal of single use materials. In fact, less than 9% of materials are reused. This system was workable when material use was relatively low, but material use is growing at an unsustainable rate. During the 20th century, global material use increased from 7 billion to 49 billion tons (“MT”) per year – a seven-fold increase. If current material use patterns persist, material usage will increase to 350 billion MT per year by end of the century – once again, a seven-fold increase in material utilization.
Unsustainable Material Resource System
Climate change is the greatest threat to human health.
The impacts of our material resource system, degradation of natural ecosystems and changes in global temperatures have severely impacted the health of populations around the world. Increasing temperatures have led some to estimate that climate change could displace 1.2 billion people by 2050.However, the impacts a re not limited to just climate change. Globally, air pollution accounts for about seven million premature deaths a year, 700 million people will face severe water shortages by 2030 and approximately 250,000 deaths may occur due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress related to environmental degradation.
The rate of environmental degradation is staggering. In order to avoid the worst impacts of biological degeneration, we have to completely transform the way we view our natural world.
The impacts of human activity are indisputable. Globally, 75% of arable land is “substantially degraded” by at least one form of degradation, such as aridity, vegetation decline, soil salinization and loss of soil carbon. If current rates continue, this number could grow to 95% by 2050. In addition, 66% of ocean ecosystems are damaged, degraded or modified. The world’s ecosystems are under acute pressure including the loss of approximately 10 million hectares of forest each year, a 600% increase in freshwater usage over the past 100 years, the transformation of 70% of grasslands and 50% of savannahs into agriculture, the loss of 20-30% of mangrove and seagrass ecosystems and a 14% loss in coral reefs in just the last ten years.
We must fundamentally transition our agricultural production system in the global transition to a sustainable future. Food production needs to increase 70% by 2050 in order to meet projected global demand.
To meet global objectives, we must support both the transition of agricultural communities and the development of technology solutions to grow food without adverse environmental impacts. Climate change is contributing to lower agricultural yields, unpredictable precipitation patterns, pests and poor distribution systems – acutely affecting the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers. Today, more than 820 million people suffer from hunger—translating to one in nine people in the world.
Our current material resource system accelerates global inequality. We are leaving parts of humanity behind.
At least two billion people depend on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods, particularly poor and rural populations— the first to feel the effects of climate change. 1.6 billion people live in inadequate, crowded and unsafe housing. Environmental degradation is already affecting the wellbeing of an estimated 3.2 billion people or 40% of our global population. Natural disasters and climate exacerbate poverty—$23.6 billion of direct economic losses in 2020. Most of those felt by the global poor. There must be a transformation.