Earlier this week I dashed off a rather prickly post about getting angry with yourself about climate change flavoured heavily by the current bushfire situation in Australia. It was, in part, a reaction to the fact that I was going out for the 8th day straight to help the NSW Rural Fire Service as an SES volunteer. I was up to 100 % days for the year! While my role is in support and I am never in any real danger, it has been stressful and tiring, albeit overwhelmingly self-affirming. I am proud of myself that I am ABLE to be helpful in a second-line role.
I challenged you to make a contribution to reduce your impact on the climate. These actions will, of course, be too late for this particular crisis, but we need to start somewhere!
Here are a few suggestions.
Get politically active
As individuals, we can make changes to our life that will have an impact, but the big guns are held by the government. They are the ones who decide whether we keep digging up coal and burning it or invest in renewables. You, however, have the power to decide who is in government, so my first suggestion is to become more politically active. In Australia, we have a working democracy, and we get who we vote for. But unlike America and other places, we don’t vote for our Prime Minister. We vote for the party they represent.The Prime Minister can be removed without a change of government.
Make sure your local member knows what you think about their policies. ALL of their policies. I am not going to tell you who to vote for because these fires have been a long time coming and are not the responsibility of one or the other of governments we have had. (Without going down too much of a rabbit hole when you think of it, it has been a growing issue ever since we placed more value on wealth than our environment… but that’s another story)
Ten things you can do to reduce your climate change impact
David Suzuki has been agitating for action in a moderate and persuasive way for a long time. This site is easy to read and provides a very digestible listicle of the ten things you can do to make a start on reducing your impact on climate change.
What’s the one ‘big’ thing you can do to reduce climate change impact?
The most useful thing you can do is not going to seem so palatable to many of you. It is to have one less child. The per annum reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide by having one fewer child is estimated at 23,770 – 117,700 kg compared to 5 kg for using reusable shopping bags. (Source: Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas 2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12 074024). Reducing the number of children reduces the number of resources they will use over their lifetime.
It is an open-source, peer-reviewed article. You will need to download it to read the whole thing. I suggest you skip through to the tables that list the categories.
In summary, here are the high impact actions YOU can take
High Impact actions individuals can take for climate change reduction
- Have one less child
- Live car-free
- Avoid one flight
- Purchase green energy
- Reduce the effects of driving (eg with a more efficient car)
- Eat a plant-based diet
Moderate Impact actions individuals can take.
These moderate impact actions reduce carbon dioxide in the range of 0 – 370 kg/annum each. These actions are not painful at all. I bet you do some to a certain extent already but don’t sit on your hands, tackle some more!
- Home heating/cooling efficiency
- Install solar panels
- Use public transport or walk/bike as much as possible
- Buy energy-efficient products
- Conserve energy
- Reduce food waste
- Reduce consumption
- Eat local
Low Impact actions individuals can take.
These low impact actions reduce carbon dioxide in the range of 6 – 60 kg/annum each but if you do them all that’s a good start and if EVERYONE did them all that would be BIG!!! For instance, if all 24 million Australian’s did these simple things it would add up to 1,440,000,000 kg of CO2!
- Conserve water – eg. run a full dishwasher
- Eliminate unnecessary travel
- Minimise waste
- Plant a tree
- Purchase carbon credits
- Reduce lawn mowing
- Keep backyard chickens – I wish I could!! 🙂
- Buy bona fide eco-label products
- Calculate your home’s footprint (I’ll research this one some more to find out how and what they mean)
How many can you tick off? Even if you can tick off many of the things on these lists already, don’t get complacent.