Climate change: Dare to look away

Climate change is no longer something we can debate. It’s here and it’s very real. As accountants and business professionals, we have the opportunity to implement changes that can have a direct effect on sustainability. As people of this planet, we owe it to ourselves to pay attention.

Baby orangutan in the Central Kalimantan care centre in Indonesia. Palm oil plantations threaten the orangutans’ habitat.


(Images courtesy of the WWF)

It all starts with sea ice, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says.

The Arctic ice shelf helps keep regional temperatures cool and provides a habitat for numerous species, including polar bears and seals. Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 4.6 per cent per decade, so these animals may not be able to adapt to their changing landscape fast enough. Furthermore, less ice coverage paves the way for industrial growth, which has other negative implications.

“Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the global average,” says the WWF website. “And it’s setting off a chain reaction in the north — in the water, on land and on the ice.”

A photo of a polar bear on a floating piece of ice. Photo by WWF Canada
Warming temperatures and melting sea ice directly affect this top predator.

An image of a large area of broken ice in the artic with a solitary polar bear. Photo by WWF Canada
Sea ice is melting at a rate of 4.6 per cent per decade.


(Images courtesy of Greenpeace)

The effects of deforestation are evident in forest areas around the globe. Destroying rainforests and other lush vegetative areas for logging and development depletes the land and leaves it vulnerable to erosion and drought. Installing dams in waterways also contributes to these problems. By blocking natural water flow, people are creating deserts where water once flowed naturally.

A photo of a man walking on a dried up lake. Photo by Gabriel Lindoso.
There is no water without forests, says one Greenpeace campaigner.

A photo of a young boy standing beside a once full river in Western Bangladesh. Photo by Uwe H. Martin
This once-full river in Western Bangladesh is now becoming a desert because of the creation of the Farakka Dam in India.


(Images courtesy of NASA)

Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to NASA. Greenland’s ice loss doubled between 1996 and 2005, and global forest coverage has diminished by 1.5 million square kilometres in the past 12 years.

A photo of the Muir Glacier in 1882 and 2005 showing the change. NASA.
Muir Glacier, Alaska, in 1882 and 2005

A photo of the Muir Glacier in 1941 and 2004 showing the change. NASA.
Muir Glacier, Alaska, in 1941 and 2004