The weight of the world is on some very key shoulders right now. Specifically, in Paris, COP21, the world climate summit that has been filling my twitterfeed, inbox and all available brainspace. Canada is back, as our leaders have happily announced, and has even pledged $2.65 BILLION dollars to climate change funding for developing countries over the next 5 years (‘billion’ deserves all caps, don’t ya think?).
Climate health is key not just because we love hugging trees and snuggling polar bears (not literally for the last one, ouch!) … it’s about human health, national defence and global security too. As Elizabeth Kolbert noted in the New Yorker, it’s no accident that the crisis in Syria was preceded by 4 years of failed rains and failed crops. On our current path, by 2050, Syria-style crises may be all too routine … unless we change course now. While our political leaders negotiate and discuss over the next 2 weeks, that leaves all of us wondering what to do.
So what can you do?
We talked about the little things in “Nine Tiny Ways to be a Big Hero” and “7 Habits of Highly Ecoffective People“. These are all great and I recommend trying 1, 2, 7 or 9 of them. You can try a Revolution or 2, and earn your Golden Light Switch as well. But the best is to work together to multiply your effect (it’s also infinitely more fun!). I’m talking about joining a green team at your work, school, or community. There are lots out there, and if you can’t find one, you can start it yourself. UHN has an amazing one with almost 700 volunteer staff that I am lucky to work with (pssst, if you happen to be at UHN, check out the green team intranet page and email me to join).
As they say, we’re all in this together … and thank goodness for that.
UPDATE (Dec 14, 2015) :
We’re so glad to see there was a major worldwide environmental agreement in Paris at COP21! That’s 195 countries coming together to try and turn things around, planetarily-speaking … a great reason to be hopeful. The nutshell version:
- to cap the global temperature rise at 1.5 C
- to cut greenhouse gas emissions (saving energy with Operation TLC is all about that!)
- to help poorer nations reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change (largely caused by us wealthier nations)
- to become carbon-neutral by 2050
- to check in every 5 years (like a group weigh-in)
- to start NOW! (even better, yesterday, but without a time machine, now’ll do)
Just last week, a non-isolation rehab patient asked me to throw away her stack of newspapers and instead of throwing them away in the garbage bin I told her I’ll put it in the recycling bin after i finish with her care. The next morning she asked with a big smile where the recycling bin was and I am just so happy to share that after I showed here where it is (as she is encouraged to be mobile and independent, etc) , it is now her routine to put the old newspapers and her empty water bottles in the recycling bin. Whenever I have a shift,I would see her with a proud big smile heading to the dining area carrying her old newspaper and water bottles and she’d tell me “I’m putting this in recycling”.
Ester, that’s wonderful! That’s exactly what green team members do … lead by example and help others do the same. It’s nice to see that doing the right thing environmentally also helps this patient with her rehab and her own sense of personal satisfaction. That truly feels good all around.
If you care about Climate Change go Vegan. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Climate+Change+vegan&view=detail&mid=A5CC0F9D2B8275CD8C41A5CC0F9D2B8275CD8C41&FORM=VIRE2
Thanks Steven. Yes, going Vegan is the most planet-friendly way to eat. It also helps to go vegetarian, flexitarian (like vegetarian but with cheating), or shrink the meat portion and grow the veg portion of an omnivourous diet. Another plate-to-planet idea is to ensure we don’t waste any food (and the energy, soil, water and labour that goes with it). All good green food ideas to stew on :).
If people are really concerned about climate change, they will stop eating meat. Every time you buy meat, you are supporting the animal agriculturists. Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it is the number one cause of environmental destruction and forest degradation. According to a UN report in 2009, 51% of all greenhouse gas emission comes from animal agriculture, only 13% comes from cars, and all forms of transportation. Annually, we are growing enough food for 12-15 billion people, but the earth’s population is only 7 billion. This is because 50% of the grains and legumes we grow are fed to animals.
You’re right that a vegetarian diet requires far less of the planet’s resources than an omnivorous one, though most Green House Gas studies show transportation as more burdensome than agriculture. There would be benefits to personal and environmental health if we all strive to eat more veg and less meat … a much more attainable goal for most than swearing off all meat forever. There are many ways to be gentler on the planet in all we do, all we buy, all we use, how we travel as well as how we eat. Fixing climate change will require more than a single solution.
All the best,