What you can do to fight climate change

In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.    David Suzuki

This comes from the David Suzuki Foundation website  (https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/ ).  We think it’s very important

  1. Get charged up with renewables

The global push for cleaner, healthier energy is on. With costs dropping every day, renewable energy is the best choice for the environment and the economy.

  1. Green your commute.

The many ways to reduce your transportation emissions will also make you healthier, happier and save you a few bucks. Whenever and wherever you can:

  • Take public transit – going car free is the most important effective action an individual can take.[1]
  • Ride a bike: riding a bike is good for your physical and mental health.  Bicycles are easier than cars on infrastructure such as roads, help reduce health care costs and can alleviate poverty as people spend less on vehicle-related costs. Studies have shown that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks.
  • Car-share.
  • Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
  • Fly less: flying accounts for 4% to 9% of the total climate change impact of human activity.  For example, since 1990, CO2 emissions from international aviation have increased 83 per cent. If you do fly, make sure you offset your emissions.  A carbon offset is a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased to compensate –offset – the emissions of another party.   Companies such as carbonfund.org or myclimate.org offer offsets.
  • 3.  Use energy wisely — save money, too! 
  • By getting more energy efficient, you’ll pollute less and save money.  The small changes you make add up:
  • Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm (not hot) water.
  • Dryers are energy hogs, so hang dry when you can and use dryer balls when you can’t.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.
  • Winterize your home to prevent heat from escaping.
    • Draft-proof your home. Drafts can waste five to 30 per cent of a home’s energy.
    • Avoid synthetics, which are based on fossil fuels.  “The textile sector is one where there’s a lot of uncertainty about what exactly the impacts are,” said Nate Aden, senior fellow at the World Resources Institute.  “The best number we have now is about five percent of [global] greenhouse gas emissions [come from] the textile industry. To give you some sense of perspective, that’s about equivalent to the impact from the aviation sector, so all the planes flying in the world. Or in country terms, that’s about equal to Russia. So it’s pretty significant.”[2]
    • Use natural fibers, which, in addition to having a smaller carbon footprint in the production of the spun fiber, have many additional  benefits: being able to be degraded by micro-organisms and composted (improving soil structure); in  this way the fixed CO2 in the fiber will be released and the cycle closed.   Synthetics do not decompose: in landfills they release  heavy metals and other additives into soil and groundwater.     Natural fibers also  sequester  carbon.  Sequestering carbon is the process through which CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed by plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (leaves, stems, branches, roots, etc.) and soils. Jute, for example, absorbs 2.4 tons of carbon per ton of dry fiber.[3]
    • Insulate your windows. Hang heavy curtains to keep the cold out and the cozy in.
    • Reverse your ceiling fans. Many ceiling fans have a reverse mode. When they turn clockwise, they push down the warm air that pools near the ceiling and circulates it through the room. Magic!
    • Change your furnace filters. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase the energy demand of your furnace by making it work harder. Make sure to replace your furnace filters at least every three months during the heating season or ask your landlord to. Better indoor air quality is a nice side benefit of this energy-saving tip. Also, consider switching to a washable filter, which will reduce waste and is more effective.
    • Heat the people not the spaceKeeping people warm is much more efficient than heating a whole space. Put on a sweater and slippers. Use an electric heat blanket or hot water bottle. Drink hot drinks. Get cozy.
    • Mind your thermostatFor every degree you turn down the thermostat, you can save between 1.5 and five per cent of your heating bill. Keep your space cooler (see #5) and turn down the thermostat when you’re not home or are sleeping. A programmable thermostat will help you get efficient and consistent.
  • 4.   Green your food purchases

“Eat food. No too much. Mostly plants ”    Michael Pollan

Here are four simple changes you can make to your diet to reduce its climate impact:

  • Eat meat-free meals.  Livestock production account for 70% of all agricultural land use, occupies 30% of the plant’s land surface and is responsible for 18% (estimates range from 14% to more than 50%) of greenhouse gasses such as methane and nitrous oxide.  As global meat consumption increases, so does its climate impact. By cutting down on meat consumption, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%.[4]
  • Buy organic and local whenever possible.  Organic farms promote genetic biodiversity, create less water pollution and soil damage, and result in fewer poisonings of farm workers, and less harm to wildlife.  Eat organic, buy organic, and spread the word about how good organic food is for not just your body, peace of mind, and taste buds, but also how vitally important it is for the future of our planet.[5]
  • Organic agriculture also sequesters CO2 – you can combat global warming by storing carbon in the soil, which means less in the atmosphere.  Conventional agriculture uses vast quantities of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which take significant amounts of energy to manufacture.  They are often made from fossil fuels.
  • Don’t waste food.
  • Grow your own.

P.S. You can also help save the planet by eating insects!

  1. Consume less, waste less, enjoy life more.

“We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division.” ~ The Story of Stuff

Focusing on life’s simple pleasures — spending time in nature, being with loved ones and/or making a difference to others — provides more purpose, belonging and happiness than buying and consuming. Sharing, making, fixing, upcycling, repurposing and composting are all good places to start.

  1. Divest from fossil fuels

Let industry know you care about climate change by making sure any investments you and your university, workplace or pension fund make do not include fossil fuels. Meet with your bank or investment adviser and/or join a divestment campaign at your university.

Fossil fuels are a sunset industry. They’re a risk for investors and the planet. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged.”  Many banks and investment advisers are warning clients about the dangers of fossil-fuel-related portfolios, noting that climate agreements, government regulations, reduced demand and market volatility make them risky. Some, such as HSBC, suggest divestment as one route, but note some investors may just want to pull their money from the riskiest sectors, such as coal and oil, or keep investments so they can influence company decisions.  In fact, according to Genus Fossil Free investing, 87% of impact investors who targeted portfolio competitiveness either met or outperformed expectations in 2013.[6]  According to 350.org,

the major force behind the divestment movement, “more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have made some form of divestment commitment” as of late 2015.

  1. Invest in renewables

Even if you can’t install solar panels or a wind turbine, you can still be a part of the clean-energy economy. Search online for local renewable energy co-ops to join. By becoming a co-op member you will own a slice of its renewable energy projects and can get a return on your investment.  The latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) found that several of the most commonly used renewables, like solar, geothermal, bioenergy, hydropower and onshore wind, will be on par with or cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020.

You can also speak to your financial adviser about clean energy/technology investments.

  1. Help put a price on pollution

Putting a price on carbon is one of the most important pillars of any strong climate policy. Carbon pricing sounds boring, but it helps makes polluting activities more expensive and green solutions relatively more affordable, allowing your energy-efficient business and/or household to save money!  Putting a price on carbon pollution through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system helps speed the transition to cleaner, better energy solutions. We have low-carbon alternatives to our largest emissions sources that are improving by the day.

Most market economists agree that pricing carbon is an efficient and business-friendly way to reduce emissions. The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to put a national price on carbon, but they need your support.

  • Three myths about carbon pricing:
    • It doesn’t work: Since it was introduced in Canada in 2008, British Columbia’s carbon tax decreased carbon emissions
    • It will make everything more expensive: Research shows that people in British Columbia – where the provincial government sends out rebates from its carbon tax — pay less tax than they did before the carbon price was implemented.
    • Renewable energy is too expensive: the price of renewable energy is now equal or cheaper than coal power.Fossil fuels only appear to be affordable due to government subsidies and the absence of a price on carbon emissions.
  1. Vote

All levels of government, from municipal to federal, can have a big effect on our ability to lower emissions, prepare and adapt to climate change and shift to a clean-energy economy.

Make sure you are registered to vote and then get informed for all elections — not just the federal ones that get most of the media attention. Research the party, ask questions about climate change at town halls or debates and let your candidates know you are voting for the climate. Candidates often hold a wide range of positions on climate change, so your vote really matters.

If you are too young to vote, encourage your class or school to join a Student Vote program, a parallel election for students under voting age that provides the opportunity to experience participation in the election process.

  1. Tell your story, listen to others

A healthy planet and stable climate aren’t political issues. It’s all about families, communities, energy systems and humanity’s future. It’s important to get everyone on board, working toward climate solutions.

People are more often influenced by friends than by experts, so make sure to talk about climate change with friends and family. Tell your stories — about changes you’ve seen where you live, how climate change has affected you, and the changes you’re making to lessen your impact. Encourage friends and family to explore the top 10 things they can do about climate change.

[1]Ortiz, Diego Arguedas “Ten simple ways to act on climate change”, BBC , November 2018. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181102-what-can-i-do-about-climate-change

[2]Bauck, W., “The Fashion Industry Emits as much Greenhouse Gas as All of Russia”,  Sept.22, 2017 HTTPS://FASHIONISTA.COM/2017/09/FASHION-INDUSTRY-GREENHOUSE-GAS-CLIMATE-CHANGE-SUSTAINABILITY

[3]“Why Natural Fibers”, FAO, 2009: http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/en/iynf/sustainable.html