Last Friday, September 27th the world witnessed the largest climate protest and one of the biggest global protests in history (1). Almost every country around the world witnessed students skip school, businesses close their doors, and employees walk out of the workplace in order to demand that their government take greater action against the ever-growing climate crisis (2). Here in Canada, over 750,000 people across the country participated (3). Despite this event’s overwhelming significance, the movement’s catalyst, Greta Thunberg, states that the strike is “just the beginning” (4).
If this is true, then what is next? This week, we want to share how you can keep the momentum of the climate strike’s message going without waiting for the next march.
What is the “crisis”?
The climate crisis is so wide ranging that it touches all parts of human society. It can be daunting to even think about where to begin to address such a huge issue. Instead, we’ll look at it as a series of related crises to be addressed.
- – Food security: Most food is grown or produced using an industrial approach to agriculture whereby quantity is valued over quality. As a result, our food system generally uses practices that are harmful to our environment. If we maintain these practices, we will find the price of food to go up as it becomes harder to produce due to damaged soil and water scarcity.
- – Pollution: Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists unless it was burned (5). With annual production of plastics being close to 381 million tonnes in the US alone, it is hard to even imagine the magnitude of this waste (6). This statistic is alarming and it is just referencing one type of material polluting our environment. Long story short, we have a big clean up job to do.
- – Weather Extremes: As the atmosphere is introduced to more greenhouse gas emissions every year, primarily caused by fossil fuels, we will continue to see a rise in global temperature (7). As this temperature increases, we will experience more storms and other extreme weather conditions like prolonged droughts (8).
- – Human Health: More than ninety percent of people worldwide are breathing in dangerous air (9). Further, according to the World Health Organization, climate change is stated to pose a major issue to human health globally (10). In short, as much as we may imagine that human welfare is separate from nature, we are in fact tied to it. A healthy community is dependent on a healthy environment.
What can we do?
- – Food security: When you shop for food, try to buy into a sustainable food system. A great place to start is to look for certifications that guarantee that a product has been grown or produced with people and planet in mind. You can see some certifications that we recommend here.
- – Pollution: Reduce, reuse, recycle- in that order! Try lowering your overall consumption and when you do need to buy something, try to buy it second-hand. In addition, try to use a reusable alternative over a single-use option (even if it is recyclable), whenever you can!
- – Weather Extremes: It is difficult for all of us to go a day without using something that requires fossil fuels. My advice is to reduce your impact where you can, such as by taking alternative forms of transportation than using a private vehicle. In addition, exercise your right to citizenship. If you want to live in a community where it is easier to choose sustainable forms of energy, transportation, and goods, then ask your government for policies and plans that support this!
- – Human Health: Similar to what has been said above, be conscious about how your daily habits and purchasing choices impact people and planet. If we each do our part, we can all be part of the solution.
We can do this
Climate action can happen on a daily basis and it is something that is accessible to everyone in some form or another. As we always say here at SPUD.ca, it’s about progress over perfection.
- 1) September 2019 climate strikes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_2019_climate_strikes. Wikipedia.
- 2) Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/21/across-the-globe-millions-join-biggest-climate-protest-ever
- 3) Greenpeace Canada. https://www.instagram.com/p/B27x1jSFHmc/
- 4) Greta Thunberg. https://www.instagram.com/p/B29lUE7ifa1/
- 5) Gonzaga, Diego. Every single piece of plastic ever made still exists. Here’s the story. Greenpeace. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/7281/every-single-piece-of-plastic-ever-made-still-exists-heres-the-story/
- 6) Ritchie, Hannah and Max Roser. Plastic Pollution. Our World In Data. https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution.
- 7) Summary for Policymakers. IPCC. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/
- 8) Ibid.
- 9) Toxic air will shorten children’s lives by 20 months, study reveals. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/03/toxic-air-will-shorten-childrens-lives-by-20-months-study-reveals
- 10) Climate change and human health – risks and responses. Summary. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/globalchange/summary/en/.