Happy Earth Day my dear Earthlings!
If you are somehow new to Earth Day, you may not know that this day has been celebrated for the last 50 years. Year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day.
The Earth Day takes place on the 22 April each year and focuses on various environmental issues each year to raise awareness and urges the global citizens to spring into action. Even though it takes more than just one day a year to truly make a difference, this one day can be a great kickstart of something new.
Earth Day 2020: Climate Action
Despite of all nay-sayers, the climate change is happening, and we are getting dangerously close to the point of no return.
What is Climate Change? Climate change is a long-term shift in the weather patterns. While some of these changes are natural and gradually occur over time without human involvement, there is a pool of evidence that the rate at which the climate is changing now is, in fact, caused by human activity, and can be traced back to the early 20th century. If the rise in global temperature gets to as high as 1.5-2˚C above the baseline (defined as average global temperature at pre-industrial time), the damage may become irreversible. And the problem is that we’re already half-way there.
Effects of the Climate Change
At just 1˚C above the pre-industrial (baseline) temperature, we can already see the dangerous and harmful effects of the climate change. Let’s look at what they are and what makes them dangerous.
There has been a well defined rise in the temperatures all over the world in the past few decades. The summers are getting longer and hotter, the winters shorter and milder. It may seem like good news to those not particularly fond of cold weather, but this rise in temperatures shifts the biodiversity. It affects both flora and fauna, making life harder for hibernating animals and migrating birds.
The rise in overall global temperature leads to the warming of the ocean. This, in turn, causes coral reef bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks, which leads to more dangerous consequences. The coral reef becomes uninhabitable for marine species, which leads to loss of marine biodiversity. Climate Change means Ocean Change, and this is asking for a whole new wave of disaster.
Loss of the Ice Sheets and Glaciers
The ice mass of the Arctic and the Antarctic has been thinning out drastically over the past decades. According to the data collected by NASA, during the summer 2019, Greenland alone has lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise the ocean level by approx. 1/10 of an inch in just two months. But Greenland is not the only one losing the ice mass. The meltwater from the Poles and other permanent ice masses rises the ocean levels even further, leading not only to animals losing their habitats, but people, too. These conditions become extremely dangerous for aboriginals living in the Northern parts of the planet.
The global warming and climate change causes the glaciers to retreat. Glaciers contain up to 75% of the global freshwater and their accelerated melting means that the fresh water is lost into oceans, depriving people and animals without fresh water. Many rivers start from glaciers, too, so essentially, there is a risk of running out of rivers. Meltwater from the glaciers causes floods, destroying residential areas and natural habitats.
Extreme Weather Conditions and Natural Disasters
It is no secret that there has been an increase in the adverse weather conditions and natural disasters. The extra heat circulating in the atmosphere gives way to storms and potentially makes them even stronger. Scientists link the various natural disasters like storms, hurricanes, droughts and even wildfires to climate change. If nothing is done about it, it is bound to get worse.
You can learn more astounding numbers from NASA’s Climate website, but I think this is enough to get you thinking. The Earth is slowly dying, and it needs our help. We, as a global society, as the rightful (or are we?) inhabitants of this planet, owe her that one.
Now let’s have a look at how you can help.
Time For Action
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The one and most powerful thing you can do, besides raising awareness amongst your peers, is to revise your lifestyle choices and the choices you make as a consumer, and make a conscious decision to go greener. The actions we need to take will highly depend on our needs and current status. But here are a few ideas:
1. Cut down on plastic
Not only plastic is one of the worst pollutants in the world, but it also contributes to climate change from the emissions as a result of its production to its disposal. Refuse single use plastic as much as possible – get a reusable shopping bag, buy a glass or a stainless steel reusable water bottle, opt for consumables free of packaging or go for alternative packaging where possible.
Unfortunately, when it comes to food, a lot depends on our geographical location. For example, in Ireland in Midlands there are no stores that sell foods in bulk. And if it’s possible to get apples and bananas loose, we are unlikely to meet berries that do not come pre-packaged in a plastic box, or an organic cucumber that is not wrapped in plastic. There are no farmers markets either to hope for better alternatives there. But you can always try and search for an organic farm that delivers to your area. This will ensure that you always have fresh, local, seasonal produce with as little environmental impact as possible.
2. Reduce your waste or go Zero Waste
Of course, this is easier said than done and I’ve yet to master the Zero Waste skill. Again, as with the previous, your ability to go zero waste will depend on where you live and what is available in your area. Your pursuit of complete zero waste may create unnecessary burden and invoke extra spending, so it is better to find a balance. It could be better to buy a packaged product and reuse or recycle the packaging than travel to another town to get the same item packaging-free.
If zero waste is unsustainable for your household, it may be better to strive for just less waste, in a sustainable way. Think of a way you can recycle, reuse or repurpose the waste. For example, you can find a way to use leftover foods: make a leftover casserole, make homemade stock from veggie scraps or get a compost (or sign up for an organic bin). You can donate clothes, books and furniture instead of throwing it out.
If I may suggest, have a go at Bea Johnson’s “Zero Waste Home” to get more ideas on sustainable home with little to no environmental impact.
Going zero waste for only one day can already make a huge impact, if all of us did it.
3. Go Veg for 1 day a week
Meat and dairy industry are one of the biggest contributors to Greenhouse Gas Emissions (CO2), and a shift from animal to plant protein was included in the Climate Change Mitigation Policy in 2018. It is still one of the important climate actions to date.
You could significantly cut the environmental impact of your diet by switching to a vegetarian or a vegan diet for just one day a week. Not only will it help the planet, but your body will thank you too. In fact, going meatless is a healthy choice for your entire family, children included.
To make a start, visit Meatless Monday website. If you have children, you can involve them too – The Kids Cook Monday have plenty of recipes and ideas for you. Finally, if you feel quite adventurous, you can take a pledge at Veganuary to go vegan for 1 month.
4. Walk or Cycle to Work
Obviously, this will not be feasible for everyone, and given the current COVID-19 situation, there may not be any work to go to for many of us. But even when you go grocery shopping, or when you are back to work – simply leave the car behind on a fine day.
With the lockdown effective in many countries of the world, we have begun to see how much damage the excessive use of private transportation does. Just within a few weeks, the smog has dissipated, the air has cleared and animals have appeared in the streets, not fearing bumping into any humans. While to some of us it may seem bizarre to see the animals casually roaming through the towns, it is important to remember that they have just as much right to live here and they have probably been here before us.
But let’s not diverge from the topic. Walking or cycling to places (or carpooling in the worst case scenario) can drastically decrease your personal environmental footprint and our collective environmental footprint as a society. And again, it is not just for the sake of the planet. It is for your own benefit, too.
5. Spread the word
Last but not least, you can help by spreading the word and raising awareness. Share this post with your friends, or come up with your own post on how you are helping stop the climate change today. Tag your friends and encourage them to do the same. It’s up to us to stop this and we shall not stop trying.
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The next steps:
- Visit EarthDay.org and see how you can get involved.
- Share my blog by clicking one of the Social Media buttons below.
- Follow me on Instagram @Wellnessista
- Share your Climate Action using hashtag #ClimateAction2020, tag 3 friends you would like to get involved in climate action. You can tag me too.
- Sign up for Meatless Monday, The Kids Cook Monday or Veganuary and make a difference for both yourself and those around you.
- Revise your consumer choices and habits. Make lower impact choices.
- Don’t give up 🙂