If you’ve browsed a current affair website lately or picked up a newspaper, you are undoubtedly aware that climate change is a predominant topic of governments and societies around the globe.It preoccupies many young people, too, who worry that the planet they are inheriting has been irreparably damaged by the generations who came before them. Young people like activist Greta Thunberg have made it the focus of their demonstrations against governments and international bodies like the United Nations. They believe, with good reason, that climate change is the central preoccupation of their lives and that attention to it must be paid.Have you ever wondered precisely what climate change is, how it happened (and continues to) and what we can do about it?Particularly if you’re the parent of young children, who now learn about climate change in school, the topic may well be preoccupying you, too.In this article, we give you a brief definition, but more importantly, we offer ways in which you and your family (and place of work) can help in the fight against climate change.
A Brief Overview Of Climate Change:
Since the 1950s, scientists have had a growing awareness that our planet is warming and are increasingly knowledgeable about humankind’s role in that process.Human activity is, experts say, largely responsible for the deleterious effects on the ozone layer that trapped gasses impose, like methane and carbon dioxide.You’ve likely heard the term Green House Gas Emissions (GHGE). That’s the kind of thing the term refers to – fumes from cars and burps from cows. Since the Industrial Revolution, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by almost 50 percent.This causes the planet to warm, which in turn causes the seas and oceans to warm and glaciers to melt. Drastic weather changes are part of climate change – more hurricanes, more tsunamis, more heatwaves.As the planet warms and these negative occurrences happen more frequently, there is a domino effect on everything from landscapes to animals, many of which cannot live in a limited or damaged terrain.Polar bears are a typical example of a species in decline from climate change: their territories no longer completely freeze in the far North, meaning they cannot travel over their usual range to hunt.Many have died of starvation or lack the body mass needed to reproduce because they cannot find food, and the species is at real risk of extinction. That is only one example of what climate change is doing to the animal kingdom – there are many more!
How We Contribute To It?
Every time we turn on an air conditioner or start our cars, we’re putting gasses into the atmosphere that contribute to climate change.We don’t say that to induce guilt! Only to point out that even when we are unaware of our role in global warming and climate change, we do things that worsen the situation. That’s why our children so often wonder why we didn’t take better care of Mother Earth before the situation became so dire.In fairness, however, for more than a century, no one knew what all those fumes emitting from coal-powered trains, for example, were doing to the air. Then came the automobile and planes, and scientists still didn’t grasp their impact. But by the time the boomer generation was born, after World War II, scientists understood that we were damaging the ozone at an alarming rate, and something had to change.
What Can We Do?
Even though the problem of climate change feels overwhelming and makes some people feel that it’s hopeless and that they cannot make a difference as an individual, indeed everyone can help in the fight. Every decision we make, whether it’s at home or the office, can have a positive impact.Here, we offer some ways in which the small choices you make every day will ultimately have a big positive effect.
1- No More Paper or Styrofoam Takeout Containers
Do you get a coffee on the way to work every day? Instead of getting a disposable cup, buy a permanent thermos you can refill. If it sounds like a minor thing, well, that’s because it is!But think of how many paper or plastic cups won’t go into landfills or recycling because of that decision – hundreds every year, for you, your family and (if you ask them) your employees or co-workers. This one change alone saves single-family hundreds of pounds of waste annually.
2- Buy Durable Clothing – not “Fast Fashion.”
Believe it or not, most donated second-hand clothing ends up in landfills – as much as 90 percent, in some locations. But if you buy natural, organic fabric (silk, cotton), it helps in two ways: they are sturdy and durable and therefore last longer than synthetics. And if they do end up in landfills, they are biodegradable and don’t harm the land.Choose classic styles for most of your wardrobe, so pieces don’t go out of fashion, and whenever you tire of something, pass it on, don’t just dispose of it.
3- Go Electric For Your Next Vehicle, If you Haven’t Already!
Car manufacturers predict that gasoline-powered vehicles will be a thing of the past by 2035, maybe even 2030, in some countries. This is a great way to lower your family’s carbon footprint!As charging stations become ever more commonplace, and batteries are able to take a car as far as 400 or 500 kilometres, very soon, there will be no reason to hang on to a gas engine. Electric automobiles are coming down in price, too – another great reason to invest in this greener mode of transportation!
4- Listen To Your Children and Eat Less Meat
Many teenagers are already on board with going vegetarian or vegan because they understand how big an impact cattle and chickens have on the planet and the climate. But we know that grilling a steak is a favourite summer ritual for many people, particularly on big holidays, like the Fourth of July in America and Canada Day on July 1st. And no one is suggesting you pack away the barbecue, only that you use it for plant-based replacement meals, like burgers and sausages that look, taste and grill just like red meat.Domestic animals are a huge producer of methane, to say nothing of the land that’s needed to raise them. Massive tracks of the Amazon jungle are being razed to make way for cows, and the damage to the environment is enormous. However, until demand for red meat products begins to ebb, there is little motivation for farmers to look to other ways of using their land. So if one (or all) of your children have given up meat, make it a family affair and explore all the wonderful dietary options out there for vegetarians.
5- Rethink All That Air Travel
If anything good can be said to have come out of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that we have all re-thought our approach to work and travel. Business trips have been postponed or cancelled, and so have family vacations that involved flights to other countries.Video conferencing is less expensive for companies, less taxing for all involved, and a healthier way to connect with colleagues around the globe. We aren’t suggesting that all vacations to distant shores should be eliminated – many countries depend on tourism as a vital part of their economy. However, every time we board a plane, we contribute to climate change, so taking one or two fewer trips each year (when borders are open again) profoundly reduces you and your family’s carbon footprint.
6- Educate Yourself About Climate Change
If solving a problem first begins with understanding it, that is the biggest contribution all of us can make as citizens of the world. Find out what measures your local government recommends you take.They may suggest that just turning off lights when leaving a room saves 10 percent of your monthly energy consumption. Or they may say that having the furnace maintained every year is a great way to save on heating costs. Whatever officials offer by way of informative tips in your region, take them to heart and implement them in your home and workplace.Experts warn that, without drastic improvements in human behaviour, climate change will become irreversible by 2060, perhaps sooner. It sounds like a dire warning, but it is one we must heed if we want to pass on a sustainable world to our children and grandchildren, a world that is more than merely livable.
Last but not least!
We all want them to inherit a wonderful planet, one that is teeming with life, greenery, animals of every species, and clean, fresh air. We can only ensure that if we pay attention to the experts, learn about climate change, and understand everyone’s role in reducing it.