in august i shared an article by steffen and international colleagues (2018) on climate change, titled trajectories of the earth system in the anthropocene. the study discusses how we are reaching a ’tipping point’ & ‘hothouse earth.’ crossing this threshold means that our planet is no longer able to cool down on its own and will release all of its stored co2 instead of balancing it out. this creates a ‘hothouse’ state whereby many parts of earth are rendered inhabitable.
shortly after my heart broke when i read the latest report from the united nations intergovernmental panel on climate change. the scientists (2018) report that we need to limit future human caused global warming to 0.9 f / 0.5 c now as opposed to the current 1.8 f / 1 c globally agreed upon goal. this could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for a large number of people & our ecosystems. while we can’t reverse the damage that’s been done, by taking action we can stop it from getting worse.
steffen & his colleagues (2018) conclude that in order to effectively combat climate change, there needs to be a cultural shift in values, and the elimination of mass consumerism and excessive waste production. the un special report (2018) suggests that in order to limit warming, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation & building use. there is a need for sustainable development, which balances social well-being, economic prosperity and environmental protection. this includes ensuring food and water security, reducing disaster risks, improving health conditions, maintaining ecosystem services and reducing poverty and inequality.
according to the un special report (2018), social justice and equity are fundamental to climate-resilient development as they address challenges and trade-offs, broaden opportunities, and ensure that options, visions, and values are deliberated, between and within countries and communities, without making the poor and disadvantaged worse off. it is of utmost importance to advocate for the elimination of systemic issues, such as international environmental racism as people living with environmental issues on a daily basis are more likely to be indigenous, racialized, and low income.
so what can we do?
- spread the word! please share the article + report and keep talking about climate change
- support indigenous peoples and communities
- support conservation efforts that protect and restore ecosystems
- support women’s rights and family planning
- buy fewer things and consume less
- instead of buying something new, try upcycyling or repurposing old items such as those found in second hand shops
- spend more time in nature
- carbon offsetting – we can reduce overall emissions if we balance out co2 emissions from one activity (e.g., air travel) by contributing to activities that avoid or reduce a similar amount of emissions. please check out less emissions to purchase carbon offsets. less emissions ensures that these emission reductions are measurable and verifiable.
- divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewables
- vote, write to your government &/or sign petitions – such as reducing methane emissions from fracked gas in canada
how reduce your carbon footprint
in november, i went to see the anthropocene exhibit at the art gallery of ontario. at the end of the exhibition, there was an info board on reducing carbon footprints. they provided a link to a useful site to help me calculate my carbon footprint – footprintcalculator.org. i was happy to see that my carbon footprint is small but not so happy to see that just over half of my footprint was a result of air travel. i realized that if i reduced flying my carbon footprint would fall below optimal standards. as much as travel is life, moving forward i’ve made a commitment to fly only when i can afford to pay for carbon offsetting.
on the road
- fly less
- drive less
- switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle
- car pool
- take transit
- if possible, use renewable energy
- use led lightbulbs
- unplug electrical cords when not in use
- swap large appliances for more efficient models
- wash your clothes in cold water
- hang dry your clothes
- winterize your home
- conserve water
- plant a tree
at the store
- buy local produce in season and sustainable fish
- eat less meat or go vegan
- bring your own reusable bags and containers
- avoid buying bottled water
- grow your own food if you can
- try not to waste food
i’m gonna leave you with one more thought: we must consider other ways of knowing, such as the iroquois 7th generation principle. it is based on the philosophy that our actions are informed by the experience of the past seven generations and that we must consider the impact of our present decisions on the next seven generations. as such, we need to make sure that our decisions are sustainable for the future. i want our grandchildren and their grandchildren to be able to visit places like the rockies & the great barrier reef in the future. on a micro level, we need to make sure that our decisions are sustainable for our future & the generations to come 🌎🌍🌏