For decades we’ve been neglecting the elephant in the room called climate change. As we burn more fossil fuels and increase our carbon footprint, the World is changing. We are on our way to overcome global temperatures by 2.7°F (2°C).
In other words, we are all in big trouble.
Global warming is already making the sea level rise, warming oceans, creating floods and droughts. However, we have barely started changing our anthropogenic activities. If nothing changes, this elephant will grow bigger and bigger until reversing the process will be hopeless. But we don’t want that. What we want is to turn our planet healthy again, so it can still host us and give us what we need to have a happy and healthy life. It is time to change some of our habits and behaviors.
Let’s act as our house is on fire. Because it is.
The society we live in makes us follow all kinds of rules and laws. Some may be good to us, others not so much, but the truth is if we don’t vote, we are merely saying, “They can do whatever they want.” If we don’t like how this system works, we can live in the woods and eat berries and nuts, for instance. And that is certainly ok. However, we stay in this system either because it’s all we know, or because it’s where our loved ones are. So please, vote.
Choose your leaders carefully and wisely. Above all, pick the ones that aim to create a better place for us all to live in, with clean energy and sustainable solutions. We can and must change our habits to reduce our greenhouse emissions, but if our leaders don’t rethink the laws that are only benefitting the economy and smacking our planet, we won’t go far. Your voice is an important piece of this puzzle, and it will help decide where we will be ten years from now.
2. Walk, Cycle or Take the Bus
How many cars can you count with only one person inside, during the day? To every 2 miles (3.2km) by car, around 2 pounds (1kg) of carbon emissions are sent to the atmosphere. On the other hand, if you walk or use a bicycle regularly, you may reduce your carbon emissions by 62%. If you really need to drive your car, you can organize a group of friends or work colleagues that need to go to the same place or close by. Meanwhile, you may save about 13-18% of emissions.
Likewise, planes take a massive amount of energy just to take off the ground. This means that short flights have a larger carbon footprint than longer ones. Use trains and buses, every time you can.
3. Avoid or Ban Red Meat
It may be delicious, but it is also part of a big industry that lost its credibility, long ago (except for a few). The meat industry grew so much in the last decades, to the point where emissions of methane (CH4) became considered as one of the greatest contributors to climate change, right after carbon dioxide. This happens mostly with the red meat industry.
Ruminants like cows have very unusual stomachs that leak gas from the front and back. Methane included. Producing red meat also consumes eleven times more water (5.000 gallons for a single pound or 450 grams) and five times more emissions than producing poultry.
The average American consumes an astounding amount of 8.5 ounces (240 grams) of meat per day. You don’t need to force yourself to be a vegetarian if that is not what you want, but consuming less red meat will significantly help our planet.
4. Take Care of Your Food Choices
Grow some of your food. If you can’t do this, buy seasonal local food. This way, you contribute to a lower carbon footprint from planes, ships, and trucks that bring your food from far away to the place you live.
5. Plant Trees!
Plant as many trees as you can, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Consequently, they give us the oxygen we need. An easy way to do this is by using the search engine Ecosia in your devices. Ecosia plants one tree every time you make around 45 web-searches.
6. Save Energy
Save 21–26% energy by installing intelligent thermostats. If you can’t do this, turn down your thermostat. Use more blankets, socks, and sweaters when it’s cold. Use fewer air conditioners and more fans. They use much less power. Turn off computers, lights, and TV sets when you don’t need them.
You will be surprised by how much energy is wasted when electronics are plugged in, even if they are powered down. This is called vampire power. The U.S. alone consumes more than $19 billion in energy every year. Even if you leave your phone charger connected to the plug, it is still consuming electricity. Simply unplug it.
7. Don’t Support Fast Fashion
Most cheap clothes have some dirty secret behind it. A jacket is produced by someone and shipped across the oceans to your country. Yet, you pay only $5 to buy it. Clothes became disposable. More than 15 million tons of clothes go to waste, ending up in the landfills.
The majority of textiles bring with them pesticides, causing water and land contamination, thus having enormous impacts on our health. Needless to say, it is toxic to our environment. Keeping your clothes in good condition, buying vintage or from local handmade stores are better alternatives to this issue. You can even swap clothes with your friends and family.
Do We Still Have Time?
Yes. However, we better move fast. Latest investigation predicts that if we act now, we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint in the next 12 years and hold temperatures below 2.7°F (2°C). Action is urgent and we seriously need to do our part. Each and every one of us.
We owe it to our planet and ourselves.
“Adults keep saying ‘we owe it to the young people to give them hope’. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if your house is on fire. Because it is.”
– Greta Thunberg