This is Part 5 in a mutli-post series/rambling. It will make a lot more sense and have a lot more context if you have a look at the preceding parts:
Part 1: Between the Smudges (what it means biblically to be made from the earth)
Part 2: Unearthing Responsibility (the biblical mandate for caring for the planet)
Part 3: The Railroad Switch (the two options we have for the future of our planet)
Part 4: The Report (exploring the IPCC report and what it means for us)
We have an almost indescribably massive challenge ahead of us. All of us.
In the previous 4 parts of this blog series I've tried to outline the magnitude and imminence of what the scientists are saying about climate change.
There's good news and bad news.
The bad news is it's going to take a massive amount of drastic action from us all.
To quote the IPCC report again:
"Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society"
The good news is that we have a pretty good idea what is needed to ameliorate the impending catastrophes of climate change. Also, we all are able to make significant impacts by the choices we make.
Your decisions matter.
So here's some thoughts about what you can do:
As someone who grew up in the meat-loving culture of South Africa, this is where the rubber hits the road, and I start losing friends!
You might be wondering whether what you put on your plate really matters in terms of the big macro issues of climate change. It turns out that it matters a lot.
Some quick stats to set the picture:
14% of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced from livestock. That's the same the emissions of all the cars, trains, planes and ships on the planet combined.
Eating beef and lamb is far worse. (1 beef steak adds 330g of CO2. That's like driving a car 3 miles).
only 4% of all mammals on the planet are wild. 36% are human. A staggering 60% is livestock
only 30% of the birds in the world are wild - the rest are chickens & poultry
So do we all have to become vegetarian or vegan? No.
If we all reduce how much meat we eat, particularly beef and lamb, that will make a huge difference. And it's better for health anyway.
This has been hard for me so far, but I'm making substantial changes. I'm counting the number of times a month I have red meat, aiming for at least one vegetarian day a week, and always looking for vegetarian options.
It's about incremental change that we actually make. Not imaginary drastic changes that are never realised and just leave us feeling guilty.
The travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions. A quick comparison of how much CO2 emissions we're creating for each km we travel
Diesel/petrol car: 203g
Plane: 175g (domestic flight)
Are there ways you could drive less? Each km adds up. Could you take public transport? Or even better, cycle? Walk?
Could you buy an electric or hybrid car instead of petrol/diesel? (soon UK law will prevent petrol/diesel cars anyway).
Could you reduce the number of flights you take each year?
As individuals, all our decisions together can make a big impact on climate change. But, if we don't get governments to change legislation (on fossil fuels for example) and big businesses to be forced to change their practices, we'll go sailing past the 1.5'C global temperature increase. We need to influence the world beyond just us.
We need politicians and businesses to know that this really matters to us. Use your votes to show them this. There are a few different types of 'voting power' that you have.
vote in elections in ways that represent this
vote with your money: choose to use stores that have better climate policies. Capitalism will eventually force companies to adjust.
'vote' with your voice: talk about this issue with friends and family. Don't let this be an issue just for the super environmentalist types. This is an issue for us all. Share important stuff on social media. Ask your friends what they're doing? Get curious. Get involved. Let's help and inspire and challenge one another. Add your voice to the anthem.
These thoughts just get us started. There's loads more we can do. Big things and small things that all add up. I've left some links below if you want to explore more.
A huge challenge awaits us all.
I'm cautious, but also excited and hopeful to see how we all together respond to this challenge.
We are, after all, earthlings, created for this very thing.
Some more links and info if you're interested:
My wife and a friend are working on a GREAT website with loads of great help and options and ideas that are ethical and help the environment. Look out for that soon.
Use the Ecosia search engine instead of google and without it costing you anything you'll contribute to the planting of forests. In the last week I've helped them plant two new trees!
Tearfund have a useful page with ideas of Lifestyle Actions that can help
I was really moved listening to this worship song Tearfund have shared. I think it would be super helpful to include these sorts of issues more in our gathered church worship.