Climate change is at the forefront of the media – and is a major threat to our planet. Activists all over the world are asking us to make a change, and recognize that we are already living through dramatic changes to Earth. The increase in natural disasters is catastrophic to both our ecosystems and the economy, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. The total monetary cost of climate change will be up into the trillions very soon and has already cost many people their lives. And those most affected by the impact of climate change are the least able to deal with it. It’s time to wake up and make a change!
”how dare you, when for over 30 years the science has been crystal clear”
Let’s look at some facts.
- The past four years have been the hottest in recorded history, with July 2019 ranking the hottest month in American history.
- Greenland is on track to lose 440 billion tons of ice this year.
- The Amazon and West are on fire.
- The middle of America is flooded.
- Hurricanes are rapidly increasing in both frequency and intensity.
- Salmon in the Atlantic are dying of heat.
- The rise in climate has killed hundreds of wild horses and bats in Australia.
Entire ecosystems around the world are being wiped out.
A poll recently conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 80% of Americans do believe “climate change is a crisis” and major issue. However, that doesn’t mean they are personally making the necessary changes to address it. Survey by Pew Research Center found that globally, an average of 68% of participants saw climate change as a major threat, 20% a minor one, and 9% are under the impression it has no effect on us at all.
Although popular opinion has changed, has there been enough of a shift to promote global action towards a sustainable earth?
“I want you to unite behind science, and then I want you to take action.”
The demands made by young activists concerned about their futures, like Greta Thunberg, include a dramatic shift towards “equity, reparations and climate justice.” There are definitely many ways to divee-up the cost and responsibilities of reversing the effects of climate change. However, it’s also very hard to imagine a way to tackle this beast as just one person. Keep in mind, you can still have a dramatic affect as an average citizen, and adopt the proper lifestyle changes in order to inspire your community and help the planet.
But first, some inspiration from around the globe.
Cuba has worked hard in keeping its environment green and safe by reducing the use of chemical pesticides on farmlands. They also made efforts to lower the sea level to protect the soil from excessive salt that could potentially destroy it. Environmental awareness is also taught at a very young age in schools so that children can embrace and practice sustainable living and protect the environment.
Switzerland has implemented laws protecting farmlands from being used for infrastructural expansion. Additionally, the country has focused on their production of resources by using renewable energy, a move that promotes a green economy. They actually ranked the greenest country on earth in 2019.
Paris has taken action, with the French government passing a law banning disposable utensils, cups and plates beginning in 2020. This following the country’s total ban on plastic bags, in accordance with the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act.
In Britain, they have adopted an eco-friendly alternative to a conventional burial. Your remains are inserted into a giant egg-shaped seed pod and planted in the ground. As the biodegradable capsule breaks down, the insides nourish a sapling planted above it. Natural burials are growing in popularity, as baby boomers, arguably the first generation to embrace environmental concerns, seek out green alternatives to the typical funeral. Today, there are more than 300 natural burial sites in the UK.
the sharing economy is fighting climate change too!
In North America, it is the shift towards a shared economy that’s helping drive down our carbon footprint. The sharing economy has become the trend in many tourist cities, especially as sharing homes, cars, meals and just about anything through companies like Air Bnb, Uber, Skip the Dishes and Ruckify grow in popularity and reach. The Climate Change Conference in Paris is a helpful reminder that the “collaborative consumption” movement, which helps find more productive uses for under-used things, is having a transformative effect on people’s wallets, minds and the environment.
The shift towards a shared economy supports efforts to keep the average citizen’s overall carbon footprint in check. A study by the Cleantech Group proved that stays with home sharing organizations emit 66% less CO2 than hotels that have earned five-star efficiency ratings. With more people renting existing homes for their trips, renting RVs rather than buying a plane ticket, and camping in true backpacker fashion, hotel developers don’t need to build new high-rises either. With fewer new hotels going up, untouched natural and rural areas remain intact. While the sharing economy helps reduce waste and over consumption, it also inspires travelers to recycle more while vacationing, and purchase less while on-the-go.
With online rental platforms emerging, travelers and community members can now borrow things that fill a temporary need rather than buying them. By decreasing production rates and consumerism, renters are helping reduce our carbon output and are making strides towards a sustainable Earth.
create a shared community and help local businesses
Another way that the sharing economy promotes sustainability is by supporting local businesses. People who choose short term home rentals are often left with extra spending money, since they aren’t blowing $150 to $300 a night on hotels. An entire community can benefit from a single individual’s vacation, because this extra money is spent on dinners at local restaurants, tourist adventures etc., and not just one hotel.
Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted a survey on the environmental impact of share-vehicle platforms. They discovered that for every one car made widely available for sharing, more than 10 are taken off of congested, carbon-emitting freeways. And North Americans and Europeans who do home share are 10% to 15% more likely to walk, use bike-share platforms, or take public transportation rather than drive their own cars.
The positive impact the sharing economy is having on the environment should not go unnoticed. There are many ways that it helps to limit climate change by encouraging a sustainable lifestyle.
“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
The right time to deal with this crisis was decades ago. We’ve waited too long, so we need to act fast and recognize that all options need to be on the table in order to adapt to the changed world we live in. We have to shift consumer behaviors that are making it worse, and start reversing the damage we’ve already done.
Industries need to implement environmental and economic safeguards, and every person should limit unnecessary consumption. As the sharing economy grows, so will evidence of its environmental and community benefits. And as more niche markets in the sharing economy form, more options will be available, potentially creating a rich, diverse, and more environmentally sound planet.