This incredibly moving TEDx talk given by a young student speaks about our future and how HOPE is just not enough. We need action and we need it now.
Further research has shown that there are Climate Change Tipping points in the globe happening as early as 2020. In addition, the past three decades have been the warmest decades since 1850. And with all of our TED talks, articles, videos, and Al Gore presentations and trainings, what ACTIONS are there to take NOW?
Below are 10 SIMPLE PRINCIPLES pulled from a BB Article dedicated to ending climate change:
1. What is the single most important thing humanity has to do in the coming years – and what does that mean for me?
The number one goal? Limiting the use of fossil fuels such as oil, carbon and natural gas and replacing them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy, all while increasing energy efficiency. “We need to cut CO2 emissions almost in half (45%) by the end of the next decade,” says Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor of sustainability science at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), in Sweden.
The road towards that transition includes daily decisions within your reach – like driving and flying less, switching to a ‘green’ energy provider and changing what you eat and buy.
2. Changing how industries are run or subsidised doesn’t sound like anything I can influence… can I?
You can. Individuals need to exercise their rights both as citizens and as consumers, Robert and other experts say, putting pressure on their governments and on companies to make the system-wide changes that are needed.
3. Other than that, what’s the best daily action I can take?
One 2017 study co-authored by Lund University’s Nicholas ranked 148 individual actions on climate change according to their impact. Going car-free was the number-one most effective action an individual could take (except not having kids – but more on that on that later). Cars are more polluting compared to other means of transportation like walking, biking or using public transport.
4. But isn’t renewable energy extremely expensive?
Actually, renewables like wind and solar are becoming increasingly cheap across the world (although final costs are subject to local circumstances). The latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) found that several of the most commonly used renewables, like solar, geothermal, bioenergy, hydropower and onshore wind, will be on par with or cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020. Some are already more cost-effective.
The cost of utility-scale solar panels has fallen 73% since 2010, for example, making solar energy the cheapest source of electricity for many households in Latin America, Asia and Africa. In the UK, onshore wind and solar are competitive with gas and by 2025 will be the cheapest source of electricity generation.
5. Could I make a difference by changing my diet?
That’s a big one, too. In fact, after fossil fuels, the food industry – and in particular the meat and dairy sector – is one of the most important contributors to climate change. If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US.
The meat industry contributes to global warming in three major ways. Firstly, cows’ burping from processing food releases lots of methane, a greenhouse gas. Secondly, we feed them with other potential sources of food, like maize and soy, which makes for a very inefficient process. And finally, they also require lots of water, fertilisers that can release greenhouse gases, and plenty of land – some of which come from cleared forests, another source of carbon emissions.
By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%
You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to make a difference: cut down gradually and become a ‘flexitarian’. By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%. A larger-scale approach could be something like banning meat across an organisation, as office-sharing company WeWork did in 2018.
6. How harmful are my flying habits?
Planes run on fossil fuels, and we haven’t figured out a scaleable alternative. Although some early efforts to use solar panels to fly around the world have had success, we are still decades away from commercial flights running on solar energy.
7. Should I be shopping differently?
Most likely. That’s because everything we buy has a carbon footprint, either in the way it is produced or in how it is transported.
For instance, the clothing sector represents around 3% of the world’s global production emissions of CO2, mostly because of the use of energy to produce attire. The hectic pace of fast fashion contributes to this figure as clothes are discarded or fall apart after short periods.
. Groceries shipped from Chile and Australia to Europe, or the other way around, have more ‘food miles’ and usually a higher footprint than local produce. But this is not always the case, as some countries grow out-of-season crops in energy-intensive greenhouses – so the best approach is to eat food that is both locally grown and seasonal. Even so, eating vegetarian still beats only purchasing local.
8. Should I think about how many children I have (or don’t have)?
Nicholas’s study concluded that having fewer children is the best way to reduce your contribution to climate change, with almost 60 tonnes of CO2 avoided per year. But this result has been contentious – and it leads to other questions.
9. But if I eat less meat or take fewer flights, that’s just me – how much of a difference can that really make?
Actually, it’s not just you. Social scientists have found that when one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, other people do too.
Here are four examples:
- Patrons at a US cafe who were told that 30% of Americans had started eating less meat were twice as likely to order a meatless lunch.
- An online survey showed that of the respondents who know someone who had given up flying because of climate change, half of them said they flew less as a result.
- In California, households were more likely to install solar panels in neighbourhoods that already have them.
- Community organisers trying to get people to install solar panels were 62% more successful in their efforts if they had panels in their house too.
Social scientists believe this occurs because we constantly evaluate what our peers are doing and we adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly. When people see their neighbours taking environmental action, like conserving energy, they infer that people like them also value sustainability and feel more compelled to act.
10. What if I just can’t avoid that flight, or cut down on driving?
If you simply can’t make every change that’s needed, consider offsetting your emissions with a trusted green project – not a ‘get out of jail free card’, but another resource in your toolbox to compensate that unavoidable flight or car trip. The UN Climate Convention keeps a portfolio of dozens of projects around the world you can contribute to. To find out how many emissions you need to ‘buy’ back, you can use its handy carbon footprint calculator.
Whether you are a coffee farmer in Colombia or a homeowner in California, climate change will have an impact on your life. But the opposite is also true: your actions will influence the planet for the coming decades – for better or for worse.
In reading this, I have chosen to be someone who uses public transport, eats less meat, and support local Climate Effort Organizations. What will you take on?