Our world is changing rapidly and we have to act before it is too late. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) has said that with a further increase of global temperature we will experience droughts, rains, forest fires, sea level rise, ocean bleaching, and the spread of invasive species. It is often said that we need to save the planet, but instead we are really the ones that need saving from climate change’s consequences. We are currently in the Anthropocene, with humans as the main drivers of change on our planet. This external pressure on the natural systems are causing irregularities in our climatic patterns. Action regarding climate change is important to reach climate stability, and to protect not only other ecosystems’ but also our own place in the web of life.
What are the drivers of climate change which we enable daily and which we do not know about? Since the Industrial Revolution there has been an exponential increase in use of coal, gas, and oil because of the increased machinery and automation use. These non-renewable sources of energy emit greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, which then trap heat, disease, and pollutants in our atmosphere. This is what is causing climate change. If we look at our modern food system, for example, we see that it is mostly harmful to the environment due to the high greenhouse gas volumes emitted in the production, transportation, and pesticide use processes. Other contributors of greenhouse gases include exports and imports, due to its high fuel consumption, single-use plastic consumption, and our consumer culture.
A motto to adopt is the re-think and refuse emphasis, rather than the usual reduce, reuse and recycle saying.
Here are some ways that you can bring change to your home and community.
- Buy locally produced, organic, and indigenous food from farmers markets, local producers, and small-scale farmers.
- Be a conscious consumer. Buy more quality, less frequently. Look for shops that are carbon-neutral or negative (these are retailers with production processes that absorb carbon via, for example, forestation or reduce water reliance, equal to, or less than, their carbon emissions)
- Reduce your electricity and water consumption, and demand it from your local and national businesses, authorities and other institutions. A great initiative to support is The Sun Exchange, where you can buy individual solar panel cells to be installed at places, such as schools, that cannot afford it upfront. This is also an investment as you get a return on the money saved from the electricity bill.
- Get involved in communities or groups that are actively fighting climate change. Knowledge is power and bouncing ideas off each other creates innovation, which is necessary as we explore the alternatives to our current practices.
Sustainability is a community practice and true change will only come when we work together. For more information about climate change and the associated actions, view the Climate Justice Charter. Information in this post was also largely adapted from this source.
Article contributors: Kate Steinkenberg and Daniëlle Gerber