How to solve a problem like climate change
Amongst all the chaos Boris has been ensuing on us this week, the other news story that has troubled me is far more important. When Prince Harry says that he sometimes can’t sleep because of the problems in the world, I say to him damn right you should have sleepless nights over this. Because Prince Harry has more power and privilege than most of us can only dream of, he therefore bears some of the responsibility of trying to solve these problems. And actually it’s refreshing to hear that he gives a monkeys because some others with that much privilege don’t batter an eyelid.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments about how we’re so much better off now than one hundred years ago with respect to infant mortality, disposable income etc but critics fail to see the bigger picture and also the fact that we are not alone in this world. There are parts of the world that are suffering unbearably because of climate change. Here the odd heat wave is met with excitement and the fact our weather has got a mind of its own may be a point of conversation but we are the lucky ones! In the south of England we don’t get droughts or extreme temperatures like in sub-Saharan Africa or floods or wildfires like in so many other parts of the world.
I think Greta Thunberg had every right to make her impassioned speech in front the UN as climate change scientists have been warning governments about the effects of greenhouse gases and the burning of fossil fuels since the eighties, but they’ve not taken it seriously. I remember studying it in secondary school and also doing a whole science project on renewable energy resources but relatively little has been done, hence the anger from Greta.
What can we do?
Whilst I’m not jumping on the vegan bandwagon, I think we all need to jump on the climate change bandwagon. To begin with we can all make small changes like using less single-use plastic, eating less meat and dairy and trying to decrease our use of fossil fuels. I mean these aren’t difficult changes, once you’ve done these you can move towards bigger changes.
The key is to do it slowly, and hopefully our mindset will change along with it. Radical zero-waste living is not welcome for the average Joe and puts off most people, but doing it in baby steps is way more digestible. I also think plastic has been singled out as the root of all evil. We’ve got to a point where we (businesses and consumers) think we’re fantastic for reusing our bag for life and giving up plastic straws when in reality we can do so much more. It’s a start but businesses have a long way to go.
Personally I’m trying to be a flexitarian as not only is it better for the environment but for my health too. I’m also getting solar lights fitted into the driveway as opposed to electric lights, something I wouldn’t have bothered considered this time last year. I have an electric hob which I’ve wanted to change to gas for three years but now I won’t. If I change my hob it will be to electric or induction. I know these are puny little things but I can only do what’s within my remit. I also chose not to fly abroad this summer and stayed in the UK for our summer holiday. I *try* not to buy plastic bottled water anymore. Please don’t think I’m blowing my own trumpet as these things require minimal effort and I’m simply trying to illustrate what individuals can do to begin with. It’s way harder to do things which will have much more of an impact, like switching my car to electric which is currently too expensive and impractical for me to do so.
I don’t think the whole world going vegan will help with climate change either, but we do need to readdress the balance. Many of us eat excessive amounts of meat and for me it is a cultural thing. It can be changed but needs some effort! If more people start introducing plant-based meals into their diets consciously (and many are) then it will help as agriculture and farming are one of the main contributors to climate change.
I guess this is why educating children about saving our planet from the beginning is so important in building that mindset and conveying the magnitude of the situation. My daughter had to keep a plastic diary for a week and it hit home exactly how much single-use plastic we consume. Schools are playing their part well in encouraging children to think about the planet. A lot of things are unavoidable in our modern world right now as there aren’t greener alternatives but the things we can change we should. In fact making small changes from fashion to food, there’s so much we can do. There are some great ‘low impact’ bloggers like Lucy Lucraft and Refill Revolution who can give you practical tips on how you can help the environment by wasting less.
I’ve only really touched the surface in this post but I hope to write more because there is much to talk about. This Amnesty International piece about climate change is great to get you started. But as Greta says the world is waking up. No one is too small to make a change. I’m on a mission to make small but sustainable changes and educate my children so they can live a less wasteful life than me.
Have you made any conscious decisions to stop the impact of climate change? I’d love to hear from you if you have!