Yesterday was the largest display of action on climate change that we have ever seen. There is no doubt, scientifically, observationally and collectively that:
the earth is getting rapidly warmer;
we are losing our opportunity to shape the extent of change, and;
the consequences of inaction will be extreme.
I’ve spent a good part of my career working on climate-related efforts, designing ways that businesses and local governments could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are some superstar environmentalists in South Florida but it’s also pretty easy to become a little jaded and depressed (leading you to seek solace in your garden and animals…)
But yesterday was not one of those days so I want to share some inspiration and some action on climate with you.
Greta Alone and Greta One Year Later
If you missed these images of youth activist Greta Thunberg, you need to see them now. The power of the images speak for themselves. It is just jaw-droppingly, mind-blowingly amazing how one child, all alone, can lead one year later to millions of fellow humans in solidarity and support. Don’t ever think that one person can’t make a difference.
Despite the fact that we live at the doorstep of one of our country’s largest public learning institutions there’s unfortunately not a lot of climate action in evidence here in Gainesville, FL. The schools were ignoring it. We had to dig on Facebook to find out where to rally.
So, yesterday I begged my daughter to at least take a clipboard to school and get some names from her friends just to show that some kids had an interest in the environment. And, I wrote an email to her first period teacher letting him know in the hopes that he’d give her some encouragement.
Mr. K got going and those kids made signs, marched through the hallways to visit other classes and “crashed the morning news”, the school’s daily closed-circuit televised broadcast, ensuring that every student at the school at least knew what was happening. Teachers are awesome!
Motivated by Right Whales and Polar Bears
This summer we are up to ten right whale deaths for the year so far. Most are from ship strikes. The whales are moving to different areas to find food because the environment is changing so rapidly. There are fast, huge cargo vessels in their way. At just about 400 individuals remaining, the species cannot withstand these kinds of losses.
And in case you were unaware, the last 4 years have seen the lowest extents of Arctic sea ice ever recorded (2017 was the lowest, this year 2019 was second). Images of starving polar bears evoke a deep sadness and urgency in me. Both these animals inspire me to keep trying.
So what do we do?
There are so many things we as a society can do but change has to start with the individual.Here are some simple things for you to do.
Yesterday was clear evidence that people do care and that communicating as a species can lead to positive change. So, I think we all need to talk more about climate change. That includes speaking to legislators and those in governing roles, of course, but also teachers and friends and family. And stores and restaurants. Why are they still carrying single-use plastics? Why so few choices for vegetarians? Talk through logistics to make travel plans as efficient as possible. Be bold enough to suggest alternatives. Ask questions. And pick up the phone. We’ve all become inured to streams of repetitive Facebook updates so let’s talk more in person and share ideas. Please give us a call!
In the past few years the impact of our food choices on the environment has become much more fully understood. Eating less meat and dairy is not only better for you but produces less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s more efficient in terms of water, energy and chemical use. So one of the simplest and most practical tangible actions for climate change is to eat animal products as sparingly as possible – or not at all.
As we sit here and watch the Amazon and Indonesia burn, at least one small solution is to put our own something back in the soil. Tree planting and growing your own food are specific solutions to the climate crisis that we can all participate in. It might be tiny but that’s ok. If you have a yard, plant a tree (a fruit tree is best of all). If your yard is small, plant a tiny vegetable garden. Small gardens are easier to care for and can yield big results.
These are just a few of the things that inspire, and a few of the things we can do. There are so many more than we can name here, so if you have a story about inspiration that you would like to share, or an inspired action you’d like to recommend, get in touch and let us know. We would love to hear your ideas.