From the Australian bushfires, to the floods that effected many parts of the UK, we’ve had many indicators of the impact that the climate crisis is having on the planet recently.
Since 2001, we’ve seen 19 of the 20 warmest years on record and Earth is now the warmest it has been for over 120,000 years. Calls for action on climate change have fallen on deaf ears for almost 20 years, but now it looks like we’re on the verge of breaking point. Can we still save our planet?
Recently, the creation of a third runway at Heathrow was deemed illegal. This was due to the British Government setting a target in law for a net zero emissions by 2050.
In the wake of the climate emergency we’re looking to scientists to set an example. Drawing on expert advice, which of these measures can we learn from to reduce our carbon footprint?
Cut out the plastic
Huge quantities of plastic is being dumped into the ocean, and this is a major concern for the environment. Almost eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, which consequently destroys the environment, as well as the animal and plant life to which they play home.
Since 2011, at least 250 million people have played their part in plastic free July, aiming to clean up the streets and oceans while minimising their own plastic use. Carbon specialist Siobhán Pereira chose to go plastic-free in her bathroom and is encouraging others to do the same. Switch your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo or biodegradable alternative for starters, as well as choosing an eco-friendly soap.
While explaining her plastic-free lifestyle choices, Pereira said: “We’ve got so used to going into the supermarket, putting something into our baskets and coming home, but we haven’t considered what happens at the end of its life.” Supermarkets are working to reduce plastics in the fruit and veg aisle but with higher costs associated with eco choices, are we being priced out of saving the earth?
Go off the grid
Thanks to social media and advertising, we are constantly being bombarding with ‘stuff’. With everything available at the touch of a button, from switching your heating on at home before you have left the office for the day, to ordering clothes through your smart phone, technology is making everything more convenient for consumers.
Why not choose a more simple lifestyle and strip back the factors that contribute to a rising carbon footprint to have a telling impact on the planet e.g. switching your oil heating for the more environmentally friendly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). LPG produces less carbon emissions when burned and can also be used for domestic tasks, including fuelling an oven, as well as your boiler.
If you’re passionate about making a change, you can certainly make change happen. Take a leaf out of Dr Alison Green’s book. The national director at Scientists Warning has opted to put her house on the market to downsize her carbon footprint. She plans to grow her own food, insert solar panels to source electric, and make a commitment to running an eco-friendly house.
No more flights
There’s no doubt about it — air traffic has a lot to answer for in terms of its environmental impact. A one hour 20 minutes return flight emits 0.24 tonnes of carbon. Experts have said travellers should restrict themselves to just one short haul flight every two to three years.
Luckily, there are alternatives, why not consider taking the ferry or a train such as the Eurostar? The argument for travelling by plane collapses when the same trip by car and boat would produce 0.08 tonnes of carbon — less than a third of the emissions produced by a plane for the same journey.
The stats have become difficult to ignore, and some experts are taking action. Professor Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh is setting the best example for his children. He gave up flying in 2004 and has opted for the staycation, taking his family on trips around the British Isles instead of jet setting to the other side of the world.
Not flying doesn’t prevent you exploring new countries either — they even took the ferry over to Amsterdam.
Scientists are truly leading by example and showing us what we need to do to make a positive impact. Governments are finally starting to wake up to climate change, but until the everyday person is sold on the idea that life will be better for them, it seems we may be having the same conversations in 10 to 15 years’ time.
So far, we’ve been too slow in our reaction, but there is still time to change the way we live our lives. Will you make the change today and give our planet the chance to survive?