Another lap of the sun, and what’s to be done? Addressing climate change wasn’t on the Australian Prime Minister’s to do list this year, but it can still be on ours.
William Burroughs once argued that it generally takes humans a disaster in their own backyard, before they rise up to do anything about it. Or more directly : “the only thing that gets homo sapiens up off its ass is a good foot up it.” Unfortunately, we can’t wait for the full impact of climate change to hit – by the time it’d be in full swing, the processes underway would have both severe impacts upon us, and take far too long to reverse.
Severe impacts? Maybe that’s too light – rising sea levels, large-scale food shortages, plagues, massive species extinctions, unprecendented numbers of refugees, intensified ethnic and political tensions, more frequent and more severe natural disasters, and a global economic depression the likes of which no one has ever seen. In other words, it’d be kinda preferable to use our foresight muscles, and get it together sometime in advance. The bad news is that this will be very difficult. The good news, is that humanity has previously mobilised enormous responses to difficult challenges, such as the two world wars and great depression of the twentieth century.
But wait – is this actual happening? Well, aside from a hefty weight of ongoing scientific documents released last year, each making more urgent appeals than the last, the situation is probably best understood by realising that in August 2008, for the first time in human history, the North Pole could be circumnavigated. Additionally, the following phrases in a search engine, will prove fruitful for those unconvinced : “arctic melting rates 20 years ahead of predictions”, “arctic sea soon ice-free in summer”, “Coral reefs disappearing”, “polar bear added to endangered list”, etc etc. Sure, Al Gore told you already. But what to do about it?
Many countries including Australia are refusing to address their contributions to climate change, by arguing their contribution is much smaller than that of others, and shouldn’t have to be dealt with until the larger countries contributions have been addressed. Surely a better way forward is to acknowledge and address our impact, and set an example for others? In the same way individuals shouldn’t avoid facing their own impact by insisting it doesn’t make a difference in the face of Government or big business scaled decisions. Again, it’s not an either / or situation, and the larger decisions are more likely to happen within an informed population who are practicing what they believe.
Aside from lobbying Government and big business to address their impact, you can also tackle your personal impact. It’s a short 2 Step Program.
Step One : Calculate your carbon emissions.
Step Two : Figure out ways to reduce that. That’s for everyone to do themselves, but general things to keep in mind :
transport tends to average around a quarter of our emissions ( cycle or get public transport more ),
a meat based diet is much more carbon intensive to produce than a vegetarian diet, ( Food contributes about 28% of our greenhouse gas pollution. This includes eating out and buying food. Meat and dairy products are especially problematic, because their production is particularly water-intensive. (About 200L of water is needed to produce a 150g steak),
and heating hot water makes up a surprisingly large proportion of an average persons energy consumption.
Climate Code Red, a recent Australian book tackling Climate Change and the need for serious responses.
http://www.manpollo.org/ : risk-management perspective on global warming.
breathingearth.net ( real-time simulation displays the CO2 emissions of every country in the world )
gaszappers.com ( online art games that tackle climate change, including one where the aim is to save venice)
“We believe that the impacts of climate change demand a serious programme of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and we urge governments to adopt a universal and equitable framework to achieve this. In CRAGs, we are implementing this approach at a community level. We form local groups to support and encourage one another in reducing our carbon footprints towards a sustainable and equitable level. We measure our progress against our carbon allowances. We share knowledge and skills in lower carbon living, raise awareness, and promote practical action in the wider community.”