Climate change, or global warming, describes the rise in average temperature of the planets global climate and can be observed since the industrial revolution of the 1700s. Although fluctuations in our climate occur naturally the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change observes that the increase in average temperature is extremely likely to be a result of human-made actions. Sustaining the temperature of our planet is essential to maintaining liveable conditions and the effects of climate change can influence natural disasters such as flooding, hinder crop growth, cause sea level rise, and can even be attributed to an increase in violence.
Climate change has been attributed to an increase in green house gasses, such as CO2, which absorb energy and slows the rate at which heat can escape the atmosphere. While CO2 is produced naturally and the majority is absorbed by vegetation and ocean, the increase in human-made CO2 emissions is out weighing the planets ability to sustain balance between production and absorption. Heat enters the atmosphere than is able to exit results in a warming climate.
The largest contribution towards greenhouse gasses today is CO2, and the largest contributor towards CO2 emissions is industry. Previously the domain of artisans, the Industrial Revolution mechanised the manufacture industry and the production of products. Industrial designers and machine operators took the job of the artisans and automated manufacture began to employ machinery which replaced the human hand. Factories, machines and transportation fuelled by coal, natural gases or fossil fuels are continuing to grow while at the same time our dependance on the mass produced products we are producing also grows. The consumer culture that has been designed around these mass produced products has tied us to the need to emit CO2 just to get the products we need to live.
Today, with our increased awareness of the effects our industries are having on climate change, we are seeing a return to artisanal methodologies and the rise of the maker-movement, individuals are beginning to make a produce their own products. Although handmade products today are a luxury and are not able to compete with the affordability of their mass manufactured counterparts it is inevitable that we will need to return to a craft-based culture and economy in order to revoke the effects of mass production. There are many examples of products that employs sustainable practices, but design communities such are instructables.com are pushing what they term a “movement”. These online communities are enabling individuals to produce, share and collaborate on designs they can make themselves. While we are still very dependant on mass production, the artisans are definitely making a comeback.