The current outlook for climate change appears extremely serious with the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report showing that urgent action is required now to stop some of its worst effects which may be on the doorstep much earlier than expected, potentially only 11-20 years away.
The Met Office brought out some complimentary briefing notes accompanying the eye-opening report. The majority of people could make a difference today. James McHaffie looks at some areas people could look at to help mitigate some of the effects of climate change:
Lift share, rail it, bike it, walk it.
Check that thermostat and get some insulation.
Read up on it: How bad is climate change going to be?
Eat less meat.
Buy less stuff.
Offset: Plant some trees.
Principles: Intergenerational equity.
Reduce, re-use then recycle.
This is the main use of energy consumption (40% in 2017) in the UK with 73% of it via road transport. Ways of reducing it are pretty obvious. Sharing lifts, walking or biking if you are able and using public transport. Electric cars are becoming more in vogue at the moment too and are likely to become the norm in a few decades time. Ben Bransby gets most of his battery for his electric 'Zoe' powered up off the solar panels on his mum's house.
Air travel has trebled since 1970 and I’m sure you’ve heard it mentioned that it’s not great for global warming, with the altitude the pollutants are being pumped out at making a greater warming effect. This is why on all the carbon footprint calculators they will tell you that a return flight from London to New York will be worse than all the other emissions you made that year put together. I’m not going to tell anyone not to fly obviously and am looking forward to getting mercilessly barracked by friends next time I do. But, I think it’s worth thinking about other options if they are open to you. From trains to ferries to holidays more local to home.
Around 28% of energy consumption in the UK is in the home and 80% of this is in space and water heating. This is highly susceptible to temperature fluctuations, warmer years reducing the needs. It’s worth noting that people who observe and measure an aspect of their lives are more likely to succeed at effecting it in some way. For instance people who check their bank accounts regularly will be more likely to save more money. It is the same with regards to energy and incidentally will also have an effect on your bank statement. It could be just getting clever with your thermostat to have set times the heating comes.
The UK housing stock is old relative to most European countries, often dating to Victorian times. This meant that many were poorly insulated which is another easy win for becoming more efficient. If you are feeling flush a condensing boiler can also improve efficiency by 7%. Another factor is the number of electrical appliances and their efficiencies. If you have an energy monitoring system for your house (such as those that Megni make) there is a huge spike in output when you boil the kettle. Not so good for brew monsters.
4. Read the research
Look at the possible effects in the not too distant future to check if you think it’s worthwhile to do something about it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
has some good well evidenced
information on it as does the Met Office
which brought out briefing notes to complement the IPCC's report. If someone starts saying they don’t think it’s manmade or that we need to do anything about it, just smile and nod at everything they say before you mention you’ve got to be somewhere else urgently.
5. Go renewable energy
Swap to it, invest in it, get it for your house. No brainer, nuclear is the next best option but gives a lot of people the willies. Checkout Ecotricity
, or other similar renewable-energy providers.
6. Eat less meat
Meat production requires a lot more water and energy to produce it than veggies. If you want to really go the distance you could try going vegan. Good luck.
7. Buy less stuff
You know the stuff, useless appliances you don’t need which use loads of energy, plastic toys which are broken a week later thrown in a landfill or the sea and wont biodegrade until the Earth's been enveloped by the sun.
Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t (if you have the means). For example, Hazel Findlay has a carbon footprint from flying everywhere but tries to offset it by investing in some tree-planting schemes. Checkout Carbon Footprint
Primarily the precautionary principle and intergenerational equity. The first essentially means that if there is potential risk from doing something then these risks should be mitigated in some way. The second is the idea of not leaving the environment in a worse state for future generations. It’s a bit like the ‘Leave NO trace’ principle but on a grander and longer-term scale.
The next generation admiring the sunset on a BMC meet. Photo: James McHaffie
10. Reduce, reuse, then recycle
I’ve put recycling down at the bottom of the list as an afterthought as the ones higher up the list are profoundly more important in terms of long term environmental protection. But the little things you do can add up, if you do enough of them.
There are plenty of other ways you can help the long term ‘health’ of the environment. Look into it and question authorities and the government why they aren’t doing more with suggestions of what they should be doing. In terms of educational awareness for the public, improved public transport infrastructure, renewable energy investment amongst many other areas which require a huge change. Write to MPs to ask them to do something about climate change.
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