Let’s get something out of the way.

While our future regarding climate change is precarious, things won’t shift overnight. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that there will always be deniers in times of crisis, even in the face of hundreds of thousands of dead. Even at government level.

We will not change to a zero fossil fuel, no food-waste, low footprint economy overnight. For the most part, successful governments are judged on stock market performance, GDP increases, and other metrics that have nothing to do with avoiding environmental disaster. I’d go as far as to say that they are conflicting goals.

One thing I hate is when people keep pointing out negatives about a system but don’t make proposals to change it. “It’s all capitalism’s fault” is a slogan, not a solution. So, here’s my suggestions about how to go about changing things;

Practice good judgement when buying stuff. I recently come across the Ethical Consumer website and I’m excited about how it ranks companies according to sustainability and fairness. Things such as electronics are a huge burden on the environment due to rare metal extraction methods and the chemical processes involved (not to mention the waste they generate).

I’ve mentioned before how the meat industry is a main contributor to climate change and there’s others who have catalogued the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. But, I get it. Not everyone can or wants to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. If you cut down on meat, though, to twice a week, congratulations. You’re doing more for your health and the environment than most people. No one’s asking you to become a soy milk-loving hippy from one day to the next. Meat tastes nice, I get it. Just make an effort.

Last bit. I won’t go into arguments against capitalism, because I don’t have a realistic alternative. I do think it’s the number one reason for ruining our environment. I also think its cousin, social entrepreneurship, may be a solution towards a lot of problems. In brief, SE uses capitalist methods to generate value and give back, as opposed to making a profit only. My publisher, Inspired Quill, funnels profits into LGBT+ and literacy programs. With my upcoming book, The Hush, we’ll be using some of the profits for reforestation purposes. Inspired Quill is not the only company operating in this manner. Patagonia famously pledges 1% of its profits towards environmental causes. Could Patagonia do more? Sure. Are they doing more than 99% of companies out there? Absolutely. Seek those companies out. Vote with your wallets and support their causes.

I personally feel we need to change our mindsets regarding how we operate in nature. And I do think the rhetoric of leaving nature alone is faulty. We are part of nature. We need its resources and will have a footprint, just like a wolf stalking deer does, or a beaver taking down trees. This mindset change won’t happen overnight, there’s too much cultural baggage holding us back. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to get into a position of doing no harm. It’s better than nothing.

The science behind climate change is pretty clear cut (for the skeptics, please check what NASA, the Scientific American, the British Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences of the US, and Skeptical Science have to say). And what the science says is, we’re heading headfirst into an apocalypse.

Imagine being in a spaceship called Earth. Imagine that an average increase of 1.5 degree Celsius has messed up the sensitive food production system, has turned large parts of the spaceship uninhabitable, and fresh water production is failing. Desperate, people start forcing their way into areas where food can still grow and where there is still water. The people living there already don’t want to share. A fight starts. Blood flows.

Scary thought?

The problem a lot of people face when discussing climate change is not knowing what to do on an individual level. “What can I do?” There is a lot of noise about this or that international agreement, but they don’t translate well to every day life. I’ve yet to find one person who can explain to me in concrete terms how my life will change because of the Paris Agreement.

I’ve found this interesting article by the BBC that outlines 10 individual changes you can make. I don’t agree all of them are achievable or even realistic for individuals, but hopefully they will provide some food for thought.

It is possible to take individual action. Given how the climate crisis isn’t on any government’s agenda (except for poor Tuvalu), don’t rely on anyone other than yourselves to change things.

And, if you think individuals can’t make a difference, keep an eye out for the next blog post.