2030 Climate Change Fear - Simple Changes We Can Make NOW
So I dont know about you guys but the recent IPCC report to sumerise very bluntly (and theres loooots more to it, you can more here) is that if we do not stem the world current rampant energy/carbon usage/polluting we could be looking at a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees C by 2030.
While that doesnt sound like much its the tipping point that climate experts warn pushes our planet from a resilient one (that has so far done its best to counteract mankinds negative effects) into a planet that no longer supports human life as we have know it. Think rising sea level knocking out the tropics, highly unpredictable weather patterns - long periods of drought, crazy rainfall etc. Add to that melted polar ice caps meaning more dark water to attract the suns rays (instead of the white snow/ice that reflects them back) and you’re in a negative feedback loop that means the planet just keeps getting hotter and the weather more extreme.
So I’ve painted you a horrible picture of a future that could be nearer then we all expected. Strangely as the outlook presented to us gets more and more bleak in the years since I graduated from my MSc in marine biology my outlook has actually got more positive - bare with me on this one.
During my course we were already studying the effects of melting polar ice caps, of the effects of rising sea temperatures (and ocean acidification!) on coral reefs and seeing firsthand how humankind is systematically whiping out marine species all over the world - from over fishing to habitat destruction. To be really honest I found it all so appalling that for a long time I wanted nothing to do with it as it was really getting me down and I felt helpless.
Bizarrely its when I got into business that I became more optimistic. A simple fact of the world - as an entry level scientist I had little power in terms of actionable change and helping the environment, but as a writer and a business I did - my book was printed on paper that came from sustainably managed forests, I could choose my producers and who I choice to support financially.
I started to understand not only how I could use my voice to talk about managable change through things like my social media channels, my blog, my work as a clean coast ambassador and public speaking, but also the concept of “voting with your dollar”. For me this was a revelation. While big industries like agriculture, automotive and clothing are some of the top polluters on earth they are also serving US, the people of this planet. So every time you eat, drive or put on an item of clothing you are voting for the future world that you want and that in incredibly empowering! It can be terrifying to live through a “tipping point” moment in the world, but it could also be amazing. Instead of listening to all the usual negative chatter about the needy “millenial generation” what if we become that last generation of an old world that makes way for a much better future?
With this in mind I wanted to put together a simple list of small changes you can make NOW to make a big difference tomorrow.
Its plain and simple the rise of the western diet is killing us and the planet - while governments still subsidise dairy and meat industries they’re also leading causes of many diseases. Simply search “meat and dairy industry health problems” (use ecosia not google, they plant trees everytime you search!). While going vegan might not be something you’re interested in, studies have shown that if most of the world even cut down their meat consuption by 2/3rds this would still have a significant environmental impact.
Top tips- try only eating meat when you’re out and choosing vegetarian options and sustainable fish options (like rope grown mussels) at home. Make your own “dairy free” mylks, I’ve an almond recipe in my cookbook finn’s world, but you could also make your own oat milk - its the most sustainable option, means no tetrapak packaging to recycle and oats are grown in ireland so zero airmiles!
I will throw my hands up and say this is where I’m seriously failing this year. I’ve taken a lot of flights this year and have two more trips already booked. To try to offset this I have ticked and payed extra for the airmile offset scheme for Ryanair (does anyone know if this is any good?), am planning to have more planted for a bigger trip I have next spring. In the meantime I’ve drastically cut down my driving - buses for any meetings in Dublin and to any flights I’m catching.
Again another murky area - I drive a diesel as I have a commercial vehicle. I aim to use it as little as possible and also for longer journeys car pool - ideally in someone elses petrol car. Being realistic non of my gang can yet afford electric car options, but we also do not go in for brand new cars, there is ZERO need there are tons of perfectly good and better options environmentally second hand.
Boom this one I’m proud of the clothing industry is ONE OF THE MOST polluting industries on earth, as well as completely unethical - think abuse of workers, catastrophies like Rana Plaza, polluting air and waterways and filling up landfills with poorly made fast fashion. I have a three tiered approach to clothing from cheap to investment and its goes like this! Second hand for 80% thats tops, dresses, shoes in good nick, trousers and jeans, jackets and coats. 10% environmentally conscious high street - which for me pretty much just means M&S they have fantastically transparent policies on workers rights and environmental issues - this is my god to for PJs, socks and underwear. 10% environmental badasses - companies actively taking plastics out of our oceans, recycling materials, giving back, planting trees, using natural dyes, you get the gist some of my favourites include - Grown Clothing, Finisterre, Zennor Bikinis for things like bathing suits and jackets made from recycled water bottles, organic cotton, living wages and so much more!
Oooh another dark horse. Do we know the real cost of our technology? I for one have switched off in the past to the truth of “war minerals” the fact that some of the elements in our phones are just as bad as blood diamonds. Do you know of a company making ethical tech? If so I’d love to hear more, please share in the comments below. For now my only idea has been to opt for second hand gear - I have a refurbished mac, I protect my phone with the most robust case I could find so I wont have to replace it for as long as possible and I bought my camera on donedeal. All this has saved me a lot as well as using items that are already out there, instead of buying new. Creating demand for second hand items is part of the solution and keeps them out of landfill.
A huge part of what is going to make or break the doom by 2030 idea is attitude - we’ve grown up with a throwaway convenience culture and that simply must change. In my granny’s day (teens in WW2 era) your food came as it grew or in paper, glass or tin, and all those things could be reused, there were recipes for all scraps, people made their own clothes, the milk bottle went back and was reused, groceries came in brown paper bags that were later used to wrap sandwiches, start fires etc. Moving to a most sustainable life isnt impossible, its actually already been done! Its just little thoughts before you take an action - buy the package free apples, take the bus, keep your keep cup in your handbag. Eventually all this little choices snowball into big change.
One of the major fears I think people have when they think of long term change is jobs - what happens to the worlds farmers if we stop eating so much meat/dairy? While I cant say for certain, humans adapt. It will be up to governments to ensure that environmentally conscious farms thrive while stearing (especially countries like America) away from factory farming. But again you can vote for this every time you buy an organic milk, locally produced butter wrapped in paper instead of a plastic tub or buy a plant based option instead.
For me the long term goal here is to drastically cut down air travel I read in an article just today that;
“Cut out just one five-hour flight and your carbon footprint will be a tonne lighter. And you'll get to see more of the countryside too!”
Simply put - more sail and rail tickets to get to the UK & mainland Europe. Less global flights, offsetting them where possible with carbon emission programs and packing LIGHT every bit of weight counts on a plane in terms of fuel.
This will probably sound really silly, but ever since I was 16 and spent the summer in Cananda my “dream car” has been a pick up truck. But what does that mean? A massive diesel engine. So maybe I have to park that dream (pun intended) and seriously look at the financial viability of an electric or at least hybrid car combined with greater use of public transport and car pooling.
Long term change needs to be BIG - I’m aiming for zero plastic consumption in my groceries, minimal waste with things like composting, switching to an electric vehicle, using only renewable energy providers and when I’m older and it comes to owning a home using salvaged/secondhand materials and making the house as energy efficient as possible.
In terms of surfing as well this would mean switching to limestone and natural rubber based wetsuits and buying only second hand boards or those made of more environmentally friendly materials then fibreglass. For travel more overland, more trains, less planes looking at sailing holidays to still be able to vacation but in a more sustainable way.
So folks that was a long chat, but I would LOVE to get your input. What changes are you making? How do you feel about the 2030 forcaste? I’ve only managed to touch on some of the key areas that came up in the report (agri & fossil fuel) but what other areas are you tackling?