Who halts Climate Change?
The term “Climate Change” is in danger of becoming a cliché before most people understand what it is and what it means – including the experts!
It seems that climate change has become an issue overnight but in fact some scientists were ringing the alarm bells decades ago. Being a sceptical lot it has taken that long for the rest of the science community to accept the truth of those early revelations.
The rhetoric of government, big business, competing scientists and experts and other interest groups can make the issues and solutions seem daunting. The complexity of the climate change issue is no excuse for indifference though. The situation may be the result of a complex web of causes but the one common element throughout is humans!
We New Zealanders have one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. We might complain that the growth of industry in China and India is having a devastating impact on the environment but the fact is that their per capita emissions are much lower than ours.
It is would be careless to view New Zealand as an insignificant source of environmental impacts in a global sense and therefore do nothing. It is would also be remiss to see ourselves as individuals in isolation and wonder what difference a single person can possibly make to such a big problem. The fact is we are not insignificant and we are not isolated. We are parts of families, communities, cities or provinces, regions, nations and a global civilisation.
The fact is that individual New Zealanders must take responsibility, just like everybody else, if we are to halt the human impact on climate. Individual consumers hold more power than you might think. All change is initiated and championed by individuals in the beginning. Ultimately governments might regulate change but only after there is a groundswell of citizens demanding it.
What to do
The major cause of climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases mostly from the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas and their derivatives. The presence of higher levels of these gases is warming up the atmosphere which affects global climate patterns which in turn affects global ecosystems and everything in them.
Fossil fuels are ubiquitous in our society. They are used in the production, processing, packaging and distribution of nearly everything we consume – food and groceries, clothes, homewares (and homes!), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, books and magazines, electricity and electronic goods, heating, transport and travel, the list goes on.
Needless to say, a fundamental strategy for reducing the emission of greenhouse gases is to consume less of everything. This is not as hard as it sounds and in many cases this strategy may also benefit your health, your wallet and your quality of life. Energy-efficiency tactics fall into this category as do any initiatives to reduce waste like recycling and reusing. Other tactics, from the use of public transport or biking to buying local organic food or buying second-hand goods, will all help reduce energy consumption. These sorts of efforts are crucial but ultimately viable alternatives (that are effective, sustainable and eco-friendly) must be developed and employed to replace the use of fossil fuels.
The second fundamental strategy to reduce the amount of C02 in the atmosphere is to ‘offset’ the remainder of our emissions (after we have reduced them). ‘Offsetting’ is a term that refers to the process of compensating for the greenhouse gases that are emitted as a result of our consumption and other activities. There are many ways to offset emissions from planting trees to buying efficient wood-burners for people who can’t afford them. The easiest way to offset is to buy offset credits from an accredited company who invests your money into these initiatives on your behalf.
Reduction first, clean alternatives second, offset third.
The Econation website features many practical solutions that you can implement in order to lead a more eco-friendly, healthy and sustainable lifestyle. It is important that you realise that all of these solutions can improve your quality of life.
- A plan of action would be:
- Use a carbon calculator to see where you can reduce emissions
- Find out more about the solutions that are appropriate for you
- Prioritise the solutions and set budgets and timeframes
- Start implementing the solutions – one at a time
- Use the calculator again to measure your new emissions
- Pay for emission offset credits