John: Some people say that for fighting climate change, every little helps.
Mary: I don't see it that way. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is so high that we are way out of the range that the planet can cope with.
John: What do you mean?
Mary: Well, when scientists studied samples from ice cores taken from the Arctic, they found that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had been between 200 and 300 parts per million for 800,000 years
John: That's quite a long time!
Mary: But since the Industrial Revolution in the 1850s we have started burning huge quantities of coal, gas and oil, known as the fossil fuels, and that has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Today the level 418. Since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and there is so much of it, the planet is storing more and more heat energy in the atmosphere.
John: That doesn't sound good!
Mary: It's not. It's causing massive flooding in places all over the world. Remember the Pakistan floods.
John: So, it's a flooding issue?
Mary: In some places. In others it causes wildfires. Remember the French wildfires and the heatwaves? In other places it causes storm surges.
John: What is a storm surge?
Mary: Remember in Florida? The storm pushed the sea back up the rivers. Then the storm went on to rain heavily on the land, but the rivers couldn't take the water away because they were full.
John: So, we expect more of this stuff?
Mary: Yes, and it has consequences for us as we grow up and have our own families.
John: I thought they were the consequences!
Mary: Only the first stage. Because of that, farming will be badly disrupted and there will be less food. In some places it will be so bad that some people cannot carry on living where they are. They will be the Climate Refugees.
John: Where will they go.
Mary: Places where it is not quite so bad. Like here.
John: How many will there be.
Mary: About 500 million by 2050.
John: When will it start?
Mary: It has already started. It will get worse from here on.
John: So, we are all doomed?
Mary: Not yet. If we stop the burning of fossil fuels, we can escape the worst of it. People need to show support for making the difficult choices that we need.
John: Doing a little only puts a small brake on things, whereas we need the big brakes of stopping the burning of fossil fuels.
Mary: I am afraid so. Thank goodness there are groups of people trying to get us to stop the burning of fossil fuels.