You Can make a difference
If you decide to make your own contribution to combating climate change, the most effective step you can take is to tell others what you are doing and why you are doing it. Humans are social animals. We do what other people are doing. By proudly announcing what you are doing, others will follow your lead and you will be multiplying your effort many times over.
Here are some practical steps you can take to reduce your personal contribution to climate change:
1. Reduce your consumption of fossil fuels.
- Avoid using disposable plastic wherever possible. It is manufactured from fossil fuels. Use reusable bags.
- Look critically at how you drive you car – Studies have shown up to 30% of the difference in fuel consumption is due to driving habits alone. You could save more than a ton of CO2 per year by:
– Accelerating slowly and smoothly
– Driving at the speed limit
– Maintaining a steady speed
– Anticipating your stops and starts
- Make sure your car is tuned and running efficiently, check your tire pressures regularly. If possible upgrade to a more fuel efficient vehicle or better still an electric car.
- Is your journey really necessary? Think about whether you need to use you vehicle. Bike, walk, use public transport or car pool whenever possible. Think about whether you really need to use the car. Can you wait and combine different tasks in the one journey?
- Improve home insulation and install solar panels for electricity production or heating water. Be aware though, that in NZ changing to an electric car has a much greater effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, than installing solar panels. This is because we already produce around 80% of our electricity from renewable sources.
- Do an energy audit of your own home and research ways of reducing energy usage. When possible make long term investments such as double glazing, LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, turn things off rather than leaving them on standby especially when you are going away.
- Reuse. Recycle. Visit Trade Me before buying new.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s still great advice. Manufacturing products produces an average 4 – 8 kgs of CO2 for every kg of manufactured product.
- Stop your junk mail. Think of all that energy that is wasted producing advertising that goes straight into the bin.
- Buy local as much as possible. Carting produce from one side of the planet to the other is a craziness when seen in the context of climate change. Be willing to go without out of season produce. Grow you own and preserve, freeze or dry excess produce in season.
- Don’t waste food. Huge amounts of food in western societies gets wasted. This all adds up to more CO2.
- Don’t buy bottled water. The stuff out of the taps is just fine. If you want you can install a water filter or collect your own rainwater.
- Plant trees. Get involved in local regeneration projects. Every extra tree helps absorb a little CO2. A single young tree absorbs 6 kgs of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 22 kgs annually as trees mature. Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support two human beings.
- Search the Web for other ideas you can apply.
2. Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy.
The meat industry generates nearly 20% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The most effective step an individual can take is to consciously reduce or eliminate their consumption of farmed meat and dairy products. Not only do farmed animals themselves have a massive individual carbon footprint, but the farmland devoted to their culture is often developed at the expense of carbon-sink forests. In NZ alone, Landcorp has cut down thousands of hectares of exotic forest to replace the trees with dairy farms. In UK now, for both health and environmental reasons, more than fourteen percent of the population have become vegetarian, with many more drastically reducing their consumption of meat and dairy. The percentage, following the example of Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein in abandoning meat, is even higher among the under 30s.
Well before 2050, climate change will have reduced food production over much of the Earth’s surface – at the same time as the human population is forecast to grow by another two or so billion. The consequence will be a rapid increase in famines and refugee crises. Starving populations will lead to wars over shared rivers and other resentments.
The deterioration in international relations will make international cooperation in combating climate change well-nigh impossible. Famine and subsequent conflict can be delayed if there is more food available for distribution. Feeding crops to animals, which are in their turn destined for the table, reduces the total food benefit available to humans from crops by approximately 70%. If Earth’s population ate only vegetable products, the time at which starving populations posed threat of war, could be postponed by more than a decade thus giving more time to develop international political cooperation and resolve to tackle the problem.