Our planet is dangerously overheating. Scientific reports are unanimous on this. This can cause anxiety, rage, denial and depression. But the best way to cope with our fears is to get involved in action to combat them. We aim to help people take action in and around Stratford, in as many ways as possible.

It might not yet feel like an emergency in much of Britain, save for occasionally eerie unseasonable temperatures, and increasing storms and flooding. Climate change is already affecting us in more surreptitious ways. However, the main problem is that global warming is a delayed effect. The greenhouse gases (GHGs) that form an insulating layer around the Earth are increasing, but this takes time to warm the planet. There is a lag between gas emissions and warming. According to James Hansen, the NASA scientist whose testimony to the US Congress first alerted mainstream media to climate change in 1988, if existing levels of CO2 were preserved indefinitely, the earth would eventually warm to 3.5 degrees.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that we have only 11 years to act, in order to keep global warming below 1.5° by end of century (see summary). Even if this is possible, we will suffer more violent storms, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, mass extinctions and crop devastation. Millions will flee flooded coasts and uninhabitable deserts.

But the situation could be worse than this. The models used by the IPCC to make these predictions fail to fully integrate feedbacks that reinforce the warming tendency: melted ice reduces the albedo (the reflection of heat back into space); melting permafrost releases methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful than CO2; dying forests turn from carbon sinks into carbon sources. Such feedbacks threaten runaway, accelerating global warming at a pace we could no longer reverse or adapt to. Hansen’s estimates, bases on paleoclimate data rather than these models, may be more accurate.

The effects of this are already being felt around the world, and impact places like Stratford indirectly if not directly. Both the climate and society are globally connected. It is likely the increased volatility of the world is partly caused by climate change. But things are going to get much worse.

Decades of inadequate action, since Hansen’s testimony, have squandered whatever opportunity there might once have been for a smooth transition away from fossil fuels, and have left us struggling not to avoid climate change, but to limit its damage to a level at which our civilisation can survive. Urgent political action is necessary to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible. This will require strong political action: banning, removing subsidies from fossil fuel industry, and subsidising alternatives, nationalising big companies and breaking them up. But what action there is is having to come from below.

Stratford Climate Action is a local group raising awareness and action in response to the climate emergency. By doing this nationwide and around the world, through activism and community engagement, we can force a stronger response from our governments.

We meet twice a month in Stratford Methodist Church. See our event calendar for details. To find out more or get involved in our future campaigns, check out our website, email us at stratfordclimate@tutanota.com, or follow us on Facebook.