The final part of this assignment required us t0 create a wikipedia entry for our topic. This was to be between 1000-1500words long.Climate Change & Design
Interior & Environmental Design
What exactly is Climate Change?
Climate change is the term that is used to describe the change in the Earth’s climate which is often confused with Global warming. Global warming describes the Earth’s overall increasing temperature which is measured by the Earth’s entire surface area. Climate Change describes the planet’s changing climate features such as weather, humidity, global average air temperatures and ocean temperatures. As these temperatures are increasing snow and ice is melting at an alarming rate.
Climate change is a hugely rising problem and some of the reasons for this are the growing population, mass production, human consumption and the Natural Greenhouse effect. The Natural Greenhouse effect is the natural build up of the greenhouse gasses.
According to (www.decc.gov.uk) the Earth has warmed by about 0.754°C on average since around 1900 and by around 0.4°C since the 1970s and also states that human activity is the main cause of global warming observed over the last 100 years, particularly over the last 50 years.
It used to be thought that extreme weather events and global warming could be caused by natural climate change but it is now becoming increasingly indefensible with the amount of carbon dioxide which is distributed into the atmosphere each year because of humans.
The first discoveries of climate change occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries when carbon dioxide was discovered. According to the website
(http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/guide/timeline/) the importance of the atmosphere in relation to the temperature of the earth was recognized by a French physicist in 1824. The majority of scientists agree that the Earth’s temperature will rise further due to greenhouse emissions which will cause more extreme, intense and regular weather events. In the late 1960s, a study was done which resulted in predictions that global temperatures may increase by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit but this is depending on carbon dioxide emissions. In 1987 it was discovered that there were links between carbon dioxide levels and temperatures and these dated back 100,000 years. This resulted in global action on climate change.
In 1979 the world had its first conference for climate change and in 1988 the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and this was set up in order to investigate and report on the experiments and scientific conclusions. The IPCC were aware and tried to advise the world that in order to avoid severe global warming then we would have to cut our dependency on fossil fuels and cut the amount of greenhouse emissions by a significant amount. In 1997 a treaty was agreed which was called the Kyoto Protocol. The aim of this was that 37 industrialised countries were set binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This was signed by 178 countries and came into action in 2005.
The Earth’s climate is always changing and always has done so but not to the extent that we see today and reasons for this are our growing population and mass consumption consequently increasing greenhouse emissions. Greenhouse emissions are created through various things and the consumerism culture that we live in plays a huge part in this. The amount of fossil fuels which we consume has lead to us having to change our ways and start using other types of energy such as wind, solar and hydro but if we were to change our ways and depend solely on non-fossil fuels then this would have a dramatic impact on the predicted temperature and would cut this by 2.4 Degrees Celsius.
“Almost all of the mountain glaciers in the world are now melting, many of them quite rapidly. There must be a message in this” (Gore, A, 2006)
Climate Change and Design
There is a significant link between design and climate change. This is because designers are constantly having to invent solutions and new systems to help them with everyday design as climate change is having an increasingly greater effect on the way we live therefore we must learn to adapt our way of life in order to reduce the predicted rise in temperature and catastrophic consequences.
A key factor in design practice is now to take into account a products life cycle. This process looks at various issues such as raw materials and which are used, the manufacturing process i.e. can you reduce the amount of waste in the manufacturing process? It also looks at retail an example of this is the product appropriately packaged and how is the product transported to the consumer? Is it distributed only when necessary? The Life Cycle also looks at use of a product and the end of life such as can this product be re-used or re-cycled?
Climate change is a growing subject that the majority of designers have to face and tackle so many new designs whether being it for forms of transport, materials, architecture and systems have to be designed to reduce CO2 emissions and possibly help the environment rather than damage it.
Advertising and branding also plays a huge part in this. For example the ‘Apple’ Products have managed to eliminate environment-unfriendly materials.
"Apple is committed to protecting the environment and the communities in which we operate around the world," (Novelli,C, 09)
The power of advertising and branding helps environmentally friendly products and companies become fashionable and also is helping people to understand where the product has came from and therefore resulting in the world being more aware of climate change. Another example of design which is attempting to tackle climate change is the simple heavy duty shopping bag. “It is estimated that up to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, more than one million per minute.” (www.ecosheek.co.uk) Supermarket chains are now rewarding customers for using their own shopping bags and most shops now charge for the sale of a plastic bag. In 2008 an agreement was been signed between the Government and the seven largest supermarket chains to significantly cut down the number of plastic bags distributed. Although the heavy duty shopping bag does not seem like an outstanding, environmentally friendly design, it is however a small stepping stone to help reduce waste and carbon emissions.
Other examples of designs which help reduce carbon emissions are products which use infinite sources such as solar power, hydro and wind. Many things are now being invented which take advantage of renewable sources such as solar powered homes and cars. The solar industry is growing and a market research group called iSuppli have forecasted that the industry should double every two years.
Designing for climate change is now a huge market which designers have to tackle. Design is all around us so designers have to learn to adapt to designing without using finite sources and they have the difficult job of making and convincing the world that being green is fashionable.
Bank, W. 2010. Development and climate change. Washington DC. Ebraray Inc
Fry, C. 2008. The impact of climate change: The world’s greatest challenge in the 21st century. London. New Holland
Gore, A. 2006. An Inconvenient Truth. Great Britain. Melcher Media
Haggis, G. 2007. The Energy Challenge. Great Britain. Matador
Environment and eco-living. Available at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Thewiderenvironment/Climatechange/DG_072901
Metz, C. 09.10.09. Greenpeace applauds Apple climate change flounce. Available at:
Osbourne, H. 02.02.07. Fossil fuel and land use behind CO2 rise. Available at:
Richard, Michael Graham. 10.05.10. Solar Industry Expected to Grow Over 40% in 2011. Available at:
Solar Powered Car: