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I'm taking action, here's how you can too..

 

It is not enough for scientists to just issue warnings of the catastrophic effect humans have on the planet, Jacqueline Beggs writes

Professionally and personally, 2019 was a significant year for facing the dire reality of the world’s environmental challenges: From seeing my son taking time off work to be on the front line of the recent Extinction Rebellion climate change protests in Wellington, New Zealand to being one of more than 11,000 signatories on the World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency.

This declaration not only highlights the perilous and imminent danger of climate change, it also outlines six immediate steps we need to take to make a major difference. From reducing the use of fossil fuels and sequestering more CO2, to stabilising human population growth, we need to act now.

However, it is not just climate change I’m concerned about; it is the accelerating loss of biodiversity, the intensification of agricultural impacts, the over exploitation of resources, rampant urban development, the pollution of our land and waterways, and the continuous arrival and impact of pests and disease. Many of these issues interact, requiring solutions that are multi-pronged and take a holistic approach.

For example, while planting and maintaining trees is critical to reducing levels of CO2, if we focus on planting native rather than exotic species then we also support our native biodiversity. And if we plant the native trees into a fenced area that forms a buffer between cows and a waterway, then in one step we sequester CO2, enhance native biodiversity and reduce nutrient runoff into our waterways. Perfect!

Despite a lifetime committed to researching and communicating these issues, I have a sense of failure that it has been too little, too late. It is not enough just to keep warning folk of the catastrophic effect humans have on the planet; scientists also need to “walk the talk”. We need to demonstrate with personal action that we believe our own data and warnings. Physicist Shaun Hendy led the way in 2018 with a year of no flying, documented in his new book #NoFly.

 

So, beyond what I do professionally, here are what I consider my top three personal actions in 2020 to contribute to a more sustainable future:

Reduce intake of meat and meat products

Producing meat is environmentally costly. Humans need to undertake a dietary shift to eat mostly plants and fewer animal products. For me this is a work in progress as I am down to just one or two meat meals a week. My son is now way ahead of me with his plant-based diet.

Reduce and mitigate carbon footprint

I favour walking where possible (the adolescent in me sometimes jumps onto a Lime scooter) but I mostly commute by bus. Air travel is trickier. Academics are frequent flyers as we connect with scientists around the globe, particularly when on research and study leave as I have been in 2019. To mitigate my extra travel last year, I calculated the air miles I have travelled (15,000 miles/24,140km) and therefore the amount of carbon I generated (8000 pounds/3.63 tonnes) so I could estimate how many trees I need to plant to offset my emissions (240 trees). A local landowner allowed us to fence off stock from a wetland, and to date I have planted 47 native trees into this restoration project. Only 200 to go!

More environmentally sustainable clothing choices

The pollution generated and resources squandered on clothing is mind boggling. It is complex to calculate the total environmental footprint of textiles, as it needs to include factors such as the pesticides and land used in farming cotton, pollution from manufacture (toxic dyes and other chemicals), waste from discarded clothing, and shipping. Op shops are my friend as I have transitioned my wardrobe in the last decade or so to predominantly second-hand clothing. Most of my choices are low maintenance items that require no ironing (OK – that is more about laziness than saving electricity by not using an iron) and rejecting fast fashion by selecting items that will stand the test of time. The current standout is a top my mum made me when I was 17. Technically a “new” item in my wardrobe, but I have been wearing it for 40 years!

The environmental challenges we face are massive if we want the world to remain habitable for humans and retain biodiversity. For example, to keep global warming this century below 2°C, then we need to reduce our personal carbon footprint to 1.5 t per person by 2050. Around 70 percent of carbon emissions are actually made by just 100 companies, so is it worth the sacrifice to try to reduce your personal footprint when it is a minuscule drop in the bucket of what is needed? To me yes; everyone needs to engage in reducing their environmental impact, but we also need to demand systemic change away from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence. Our goals should be to sustain ecosystems and improve human well-being. We need to act now.

Professor Beggs is Director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity and leads the Faculty of Science’s “A Sustainable Future” research theme.

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Comments

  • Actually even though much of this articles points are very valid,and wont hurt to adhear to really, Im also of the notion in regards to this claim of climate change being responsible for all these weather phenomena and volcanic activity around the world as being the cause of it all..to me climate change happens slowly and we can say in some parts of the world yes its happened slowly but in others sorry it was sudden.

    As in the past 3yrs Ive been continually telling people online that I noticed everything happened suddenly or very fast..e.g the melting of the frozen glaciers in Iceland and the mass of volcanic activity all around the world suddenly,earth quakes,sea rising,droughts in some countries and too much rain in others like total weather opposites,conpared to previous years this is not climate change related in my eyes, but moreso a possible partial pole shift,the Inut Indians knew this was going to happen and is happening... but science wont admit that it has so the Inuits intended to warn NASA that the climate change was a natural process of a slight shifting Earth, & not global warming.

    These people are incredible weather forecasters, just like their ancestors. Namely, these people issued a warning to NASA that the earthquakes, and the change in climate are not caused by global warming. These people claim that the Earth has “wobbled” or shifted, and that their sky is changed.

    The elders claim that the sun does not rise from the same position as before. Moreover, the day is longer and the sun is positioned much higher than before. Also, the weather gets warmer very fast. This was also corroborated by other elders, who said that they had noticed the same changes.

    Additionally, they claim that the position of the stars, moon and sun has changed, thus leading to temperature changes. To add, this has had an effect on the wind, thus making it difficult to predict the weather nowadays, which is very important.

    This claim that the Earth has tilted towards, wobbled or shifted towards the North has been confirmed by all the elders. Also, NASA scientist are very concerned after they received the warning from the Inuit Elders.

    • That is a very interesting point, the suddenness of some changes. And pole shift. Something is going on. The pole shift idea makes much more sense to me. I do think that those elders know more. With pole shift I dont think there is anything we can do. We could learn to become more observant like the elders and our ancestors. To notice things, real things in our physical environments that we can perceive directly with our senses.

       One big change here is the wind storms. Much more frequent and much stronger. Like the Inuit say in the video, the wind has also changed here.

      • 3818769240?profile=RESIZE_710xfood for thought ;)

         

        see also :

        The Sun, Sunspots and Consciousness

        The Sun, Sunspots and Consciousness
        Story by: Gregg Prescott What role does the Sun and sunspots play on consciousness and how does this relate to our ever day lives? Edgar Cayce wrote…
        • Yes, I do think pole shift is a big factor.

          Hope the New Year is wonderful for you, M.

      • And no there is nothing we can do to stop a pole shift as its already done now anyway, but we have to change our ways & mindsets while we are within it, and yes your right about the senses too.. as we actually have 9 extra special perceptional senses and yet half the human race dont know this and so only use just 3 of them..we have indeed lost our way much because of this, we have forgotten who we really are, It is the future earth that those in this planets dimensional shift happenings right now,who will soon experience as their own reality a change of sorts as we move forward, although it’s not moving anywhere really how it should be. Those in the lower dimensions still have their vision of who they are blinkered (as the next dimension will do too but to a lesser degree) waiting for them to recognize that there senses are reducing them to perceive themselves and others as less than they truly are. We forgot that we are here to learn how we can become our essentia full soul essence - that is the soul’s journey and to move away from individuated consciousness into the collective.

        Image result for collective consciousness

  • Thanks for the interesting post, I like the writers general attitude. Im not convinced about any need for hysteria re climate change, which I think has been politically usurped to gain control of taxation policies and peoples emotional states etc. Climate is changing if course, but how much is anthropogenic is in my opinion very debatable. But the issues this writer points out re pollution, loss of diversity, overuse of resources, greediness, carelessness, etc, these are all very real issues and have been for a long time. 

    I had a chat with my adult children over Christmas about the climate change and one son was horrified at the thought I might be a climate change "denier". But before he could give out to me my daughter defused the issue by saying something very kind. She said to him, it doesnt matter if Mammy is a crazy climate change denier because in practice she has always done the things that protect against climate change and environmental degradation.

    And it is true. Organic gardening for more than 30 years, composting all those decades, second hand clothes, everything recycled, i have planted hundreds of trees, limited purchases, travel etc. The kids grew up that way, even without electricity for 15 years. Compost toilet. All the crazy hippie stuff. They are all very careful about resources. So my daughter says in effect it does not matter if Im a climate change sceptic crank!! Woohoo :)

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