Why learning about climate change doesn't have to be all doom and gloom
Whilst it is fundamentally important to discuss the issues of climate change and the impacts our decisions will have in the future, it can be very saddening to read a hundred articles telling us we're all doomed and have killed our planet. So, alongside some of the issue we are facing, I want to bring to you some of the good news about what actions have been taken to start fixing our planet.
Two sides of the rainbow
At this point it is almost common knowledge that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of climate change. So what does that mean? To put it simply, when fossil fuels are burned to power our homes and transport, among other things, they release CO2 gasses which rise and trap heat in our atmosphere. This has caused the global temperature to rise already by 1C. Although 1 degree may not seem like a lot, if the global temperature warms to above 1.5C then we will suffer the effects of rising sea levels, extreme weather, extinction of species, food scarcity and much more. This may sound very daunting, and in a way it should do, because this is a very serious matter, but it is not being ignored. Here are some of the positive actions that have been set in place to tackle this important issue. Once example is the introduction to electric cars. The EU has passed the law that by 2035 all new cars registered in Europe will be zero-emissions. Along side this, the state of California has announced that in 2035 they will be banning the sales of all cars that run on fossil fuels. These steps, alongside the building of new wind farms, the use of solar panels, and Hawaii announcing it has "taken its last load of coal ever", are all helping in the battle against climate change.
Another issue that is being tackled currently is the effects of agricultural farming. It's no secret that our society is spoiled for choice. We have it all. Even the foods that we can't imagine being more than a 10 minute drive away in a supermarket, can come from thousands of miles away. A shocking example of this is apples. 76% of apples are actually shipped in from America, that is a 10,133 mile trip!. And to follow this, 350,000 tonnes of potatoes are shipped in from Israel, 2,187 miles away. Foods that we see as almost essential in our everyday lives are flown over from thousands of miles away just to be in our local shop. As you can imagine this is detrimental to our environment. The fossil fuels being burnt to power the airplanes and lorries are a significant contributor to the overall CO2 emissions. But this isn't the only issue. Farmland is overwhelming the natural environment. "agricultural expansion is on pace to destroy more than 1.2 million square miles of natural habitat, an area roughly the size of India." Thousands of species are loosing parts of their natural habitats because as the population grows, and the food becomes more readily available across the globe, more and more people are buying foods that require large areas of farmland, and in order to keep up with the demand businesses are destroying thousands of natural habitats. This needs to stop. But luckily there are actions that are being taken against this issue. For example, some great news is that "the worlds largest vertical farm is being built in the UK". This incredible farm is going to be the equivalent of 96 tennis courts stacked on top of each other and will use 94% less water than normal production methods. Not only does this save an impressive amount of space, it also means that because the indoor farms environment can be adapted, foods can be grown here in the UK instead of abroad, resulting in the reduction of pollution from transporting goods overseas. This is an amazing step in the right direction to solve the farming and habitat issues we are experiencing from over-farming.
What can you do?
Sometimes all of these issues can seem like big battles going on in the distance and we can feel so small and insignificant to the change. But that's not true. You don't need to be a multi millionaire investing in eco projects or a billion dollar company cutting emissions to make a change. If we can all make one small change, the impact will be much greater.
So how can you help from home to carry on the good work? Well, there are a couple of small changes you can make that will help our planet. The first is watching what you eat. I know that most of us are meat lovers and so my suggestion is not to go vegetarian or vegan, unless you would like to, but instead by reducing slightly your intake of meat and dairy, in particular beef and lamb. By doing this you can help out with the climate change affects caused by intensive farming.
Following on from this, reducing our consumption of short-life physical goods will drastically improve wastage. Emissions are used in the production of these products, then they are used in the transportation of these products and finally emissions are released when disposing of these products. When we buy short-life low-quality products this process happens over and over, over a short period of time. This could be drastically improved if people were to invest in better quality products with longer lives and were to care for these products to get the most out of them. Fast fashion and consumer trends are hurtful for the planet because cheap, unless products are using fossil fuels to be created and transported and are then thrown away a couple of weeks, months or years later. So my second suggestion to you would be to be conscious of what you are spending your money on, do you really need that? Is that high-quality and going to last you a long time? These are probably good questions to ask yourself when you're sucked into the newest 'you need this now' trend.
My final suggestion of a small change you can make to help our planet is related both to food and to wastage. Food is a quarter of a carbon waste in the UK, if we were all to make a couple small changes, this could be halved. The first change is to eat everything that you buy. Although this may seem like a silly comment at first, it's scary how much food we actually waste, think of the leftovers from too big servings that get thrown in the bin or foods that we throw out because they're one day out of date. By ensuring that you are not over-compensating with your shopping and are eating everything you get to reduce your wastage, this will help. Second to this is trying to choose foods that are not 'air-freighted'. Which means foods that are not transported using airplanes. This is because of the colossal amounts of fossil fuels burned during the process.
A couple of these small changes will make a world difference. Remember, this is your planet too.