A University of Brighton expert in mammal ecology and conservation has warned that we must act immediately to reduce the effects of climate change.
Professor Dawn Scott, who has featured on BBC nature programmes such as Springwatch and Winterwatch, shared her thoughts on climate change in the latest episode of the University of Brighton’s ‘Catching Up With…’ podcast series.
While Professor Scott said she was still hopeful humans can adapt to lead more eco-friendly lifestyles, she stressed that change has to happen “very, very quickly” in order to meet environmental targets.
Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
The Netflix documentary series Our Planet has brought the plight of the biosphere into stark focus.
Professor Scott said: “It’s really nice to see that people are becoming more aware [about climate change].
“Conservation biology was established in the 1980s, and since the 1970s we’ve been aware of plastics and toxins in the environment. About 40 years later we’re starting to say, ‘something is happening and we need to do something about it’”.
Professor Scott acknowledged that humanity has reached “some environmental tipping points” but said she drew hope from the recent climate change protests led by schoolchildren.
She said: “I don’t want to be a pessimist, I want to be an optimist, and I think there are lots of things we can do. There is a really strong movement to make change – I’m hoping those voices will be heard.”
Professor Scott advocated the widespread availability of electric cars and a movement away from using fossil fuel power: “We need to make it easy for people to make environmental choices.”
She added: “Although we [humanity] have caused a lot of problems, we are very intelligent and good at problem solving. As a species, I’m hoping we can make changes that will have long-lasting impacts.”