Climate change has been in the news a lot lately. There are a lot of discussions concerning climate change and fire, climate change and weather, climate change and drought, etc. Politicians all over the world are holding conferences, the UN is sounding the warning, and activists are springing up everywhere. Most of their focus is on changing the transportation and energy production industries, but there are so many other things that are overlooked, things that you may not have even thought had an impact on the problem. Today I will discuss 10 unusual ways to fight the climate change.
1. Focus on understanding, not belief.
So much focus has been put on the dividing lines of the climate change issue and whether one “believes” or “denies” the problem. Insults and snotty remarks are hurled, but very little discussion of the actual matter takes place. I’ve learned from personal experience that people don’t generally deny climate change out of stupidity but misunderstanding. I have also known several self-proclaimed “believers” who parrot the words of politicians but when asked about the mechanics of climate change are unable to answer. Education is the key to fighting any issue, and this one is no exception. It’s time to start making sure we all understand the science behind the phenomenon, not just stand up and make pledges about our beliefs. We also must be more diplomatic toward those who don’t understand and find a way to explain it in a way that they would.
2. Stop making it about the children.
Several campaigns have arisen pleading with people to “think about the children” with climate change. Some groups have even filed symbolic lawsuits concerning the issue. But climate change is everyone’s future, not just theirs. People today are living a lot longer than they used to. In fact, there have been discussions about moving the term “middle age” to people’s sixties. We are seeing more and more people living into their hundreds thanks to medical technology, better nutrition, and safer living conditions. This means that many of you who are reading this blog may very well still be alive in the late twenty-first century, when climate change is projected to hit its worst. My point? This is all of our problems, not just the children’s. You will still be alive to sleep in the tent we all crapped in today.
3. Corporations not politicians.
I hate to say it, but money talks, and right now we need that money going to environmental causes. Already some corporations are starting to see that their customers (and, therefore, their profits) are not as interested in gas-guzzlers, polluting micro-plastics, wasteful production practices, and products that degrade the environment. They are already making changes to bring in those consumers who will keep them afloat. Even the oil industry is starting to get in on the trend. While politicians are holding conferences, preaching gloom and doom, and patting each other on the back for making idealistic (and unrealistic) plans, corporations are actually doing something about the problem. We need to be encouraging this behavior by boycotting those who won’t and making a point of supporting those who do.
4. Elevate the status of women.
The more people we have in this world, the more resources are used and the more carbon emissions are produced. Current projections say we are looking at a future with 9 billion human beings, while some estimates go even higher. Reproductive rates are slowing down in much of the Western world, but they are still high in the Third World. A primary reason for this is that women have few to no rights in many of these countries. They were viewed as babymakers and nothing more. Fighting for women’s education, better paying jobs, and birth control choices is one of the best ways to lower reproductive rates to something this planet can handle. That’s right, feminism fights climate change. Who would’ve thought?
5. Fight poverty in a reasonable manner.
Fighting poverty is another way to control population growth. Poor families often have numerous children to support the household. Poor countries also have necessary habits that degrade the environment, such as deforestation, polluting industry, and fuel wood collecting. But all this poverty-fighting must be done carefully. Bringing a Third World country into the developed world means making sure we don’t create another polluter full of gas-guzzling cars and dirty electricity. They must have the opportunity to rise above the poverty line and into an Earth friendly future. This means cleaner energy, better transportation, more efficient waste disposal, and greener industries. If we are going to help fight poverty, let’s do it right.
6. Change our farming practices.
I don’t just mean everyone eating less meat. The whole industry needs to be revamped, whether we are growing veggies or cows. Outside of the animal industry, some of the most polluting and/or destructive crops are soybeans, quinoa, palm oil, and coffee, four plants that are very popular today. Many coffee and palm oil plantations are associated with destruction of tropical rainforests. A lot of other crops are grown using heavy amounts of water. Nitrates from said crops run into rivers and oceans, creating anoxic dead zones. Pesticide runoff is killing wildlife, and the pesticides themselves are killing off bee populations. This doesn’t even cover the greenhouse gas emissions associated with vehicles, equipment, and energy usage. Imagine the impact if our farms are feeding 9 billion or more people!
7. Use existing space.
The last thing we need in the climate crisis is the destruction of carbon sinks, and most of those exist in undeveloped wildlands. This particular threat comes from the renewable energy industry, which has taken to using large tracts of land to put up windmills and solar panels. But this practice is entirely unnecessary! Studies have shown that existing cityscapes may be the key to producing our clean energy needs. That’s right, we already have the existing space for these things within our developed areas. This includes parking lots and buildings within cities, as well as water infrastructure such as aqueducts, storm runoff ponds, and irrigation pools. Spoiled and polluted sites such as old farmland or open pit mines are also being utilized for these purposes. Let’s use what we’ve already claimed and leave our sensitive ecosystems alone. They’re already stressed by climate change and pollution. Do we really need to invent a new threat for them?
8. Stop using the term “green” for environmental causes.
Yes, I know I’ve used the expression myself in this blog entry, but is it really the best term to be using in the first place? Green is often associated with forests, which are frequently the only ecosystems considered when it comes to the environment. The planet is a complicated organism that embraces not only forests, but oceans, deserts, grasslands, mountains, and other important ecosystems. Planting a tree is all well and good in areas where they are native, but planting a bunch of trees in the desert could be destructive. Though our world’s tropical rainforests serve an important role concerning climate regulation, so do our oceans. By being “green” are we really seeing and understanding the whole picture?
9. It’s not just carbon emissions.
In light of our last entry, we must remember not to neglect these issues. Microplastics are filling up our oceans and hurting the aquatic life within them. Oceans themselves are suffering not only acidification due to carbon emissions, but serious pollution from industrial and agriculture runoff, garbage, and radiation. Rainforests are still being cut down at an alarming rate. Endangered species are becoming extinct all over the world. In light of climate change and its increasing droughts, we also need to be thinking of water conservation. The environment is a complicated place and we cannot neglect one part of it in favor of another. That would be about as logical as destroying a patient’s heart or brain in favor of their lungs. We need a balanced approach that addresses the whole system.
10. Mitigation is just as important as prevention.
Those “believers” who don’t understand climate change are convinced that if we dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, the effects of climate change will magical disappear overnight. Other people have stated that “climate change is not my problem because it hasn’t happened yet.” Neither of these groups are correct. The fact of the matter is that the effects of climate change (sea level rise, increased drought, more severe wildfires, etc.) are already upon us, and they are going to be for a very long time. For many reasons that I will not discuss in detail here, the Earth’s response time is going to be very slow. It may be well over a century or more before we see any changes for the positive. This means we better get used to the effects that are here, and some that are projected in the future, and our reduction of carbon emissions won’t make much difference. Hazard mitigation and management is vitally important.
I think the point of this blog post is that things are not simple. People want simple answers and simple solutions, but, as I learned when I took up geography as my major in college, the Earth doesn’t work that way. If it did we wouldn’t have very many problems right now, would we? Building more power plants isn’t the magic solution. Neither is switching to electric cars or eating vegan. You’re throwing ping pong balls at an iceberg and expecting to leave a mark. It’s time that we all see the whole picture and address every pixel of it. If we don’t, we’ll never fix anything.