Trumps antics are already ticking the internal doomsday clocks of just about every rational agent on the planet. I’ve even heard rumours that some Orangutans are worried.
And perhaps the biggest of all the worries is the big T’s complete disregard for renewable energy/climate change. It’s making headlines globally at the moment, and we’re merely left wondering, what the hell is going on in this country? Although in 2016 Obama assured us that nothing can slow the oncoming train of renewable industry, it looks like ole Trumpy will be digging his heels in nonetheless.
When confronted with fools in power we tend to feel powerless. We realise that this one individual will probably cause more damage than even a large group of individuals can offset, and a forgivable first inclination is it to give up. Or simply hate the said powerful person, running across the streets expressing dismay via shouts, signs, and the occasional brick.
But before we light torches and find deserving recipients for rusty pitchforks, perhaps its worth reflecting on whether pure resistance is the most resourceful choice. In my opinion Trump is just a continuation of an already running trend. People at the top failing to meet climate change head on, nay even obliquely.
And to be honest, I don’t think it matters that much if the political and entrepreneurial power moguls are lacklustre at the green game. True change in our civilisation usually runs from the bottom of the pyramid up, not top down. It’s the heavy lifting and grinding of the people that creates change. Be it the protests of ethnic minorities and women in the last century to get the vote (we were arguably not a democracy until 1928 for this reason here in the UK) or the action of workers to obtain some semblance to fair treatment over the centuries.
Climate change is no different, we vote with our dollars, our purchases spin the wheels of industry, and our actions as a mass decide the future of the country. And we have the choice to stop putting our financial energy into projects that are detrimental to society/our planet, and put it toward ones that’ll lead to a better world.
The difficulty with taking this position is that responsibility lies with us as well as Trump, or any demonic organisation we make the object of our sights (I’ve heard that merely uttering ‘Monstanto’ in a Wholefoods store will be met by boos, hisses, and organic avocado projectiles).
Truth be told evidence reveals that more responsibility is with the consumer than ever before. Our demand is what funds and even markets companies like Tesla. The more it exists, the more companies will strive to capitalise on it.
So what can you and I actually do to reduce our emmissions?
*Please note, dear reader, this won’t be a blame game aimed at you, or even a masochistic ‘forgive me lord for I have sinned!’ repudiation of human civilisation and technology. Rather it is, I hope, an impartial analysis of how personal CO2 emissions that can be controlled.
We’re starting with the heavy hitter, the bouncer of the lot which most will elect to slink past without even making eye contact. This is probably No.1 alongside planes in terms of emmissions. I didn’t like this one, chances are you won’t, but I implore you to bear with the facts nonetheless.
A comprehensive study in Nature Communications which analysed 500 future global scenarios for food production found something we all kinda knew already…Livestock emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases. But they do more than that, they cause deforestation on a mass scale. Currently livestock farming occupies 26% of the earth’s terrestrial surface (yup, nuts), or about 3433 million hectares according to the UN food organisation .
The Nature study estimates that by 2050 we’ll need 50% more land again for livestock, so not only do these beasts emit around 20% of global emissions, much of it methane, but if you add deforestation into the mix their contribution becomes even higher. Closer to a 30-40% contribution to the greenhouse effect. Some estimate livestock to be the single most significant source of emissions, far exceeding cars.
However the study found that we can actually decrease the amount of land we use for agriculture to the levels we were at in 2000 by 2050, if, we become vegetarian/vegan. In this scenario deforestation stops, reforestation begins to store carbon, and our emmissions reduce drastically….. Yes, going without morning bacon and a lunchtime quarter pounder is rubbish. But fact is it’ll cut your emissions significantly. New Scientist said that going from eating 100gm of meat per day to veggie will cut your emissions by about a tonne per year.
The average UK individual emits about 7 tons equivalent of CO2 annually, however plenty of that is unavoidable; e.g. We can only cut so much consciously, unless you want to go and live in hobbiton you will always cause CO2 emmissions both indirectly and directly.
By far the biggest and most significant cut is going veggie/vegan, which will bring you down to around 5-5.5tons from my calculations (based on my own eating profile), depending on your dairy consumption. And this doesn’t include deforestation, which is hard to factor in mathematically but contributes between 15-30% to the greenhouse effect.
Oh and the single biggest cause of deforestation? The food industry. And as mentioned the space required for cattle is significantly more than for plants, we could sustain a 2050 population with less agricultural land than we have now if we ate a plant based diet…
If you add these two factors together the meat and animal product industry is indisputably the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction, there is. Meat eaters get defensive on this point and try and rationalise out of it, I know I did, but it’s the truth, the research is out.
Going Vegetarian, or better vegan (haven’t made it yet to this one myself) is a move toward living on a planet which will house humans for thousands of years, not hundreds. In which civilisation and culture can continue to grow, in which animal species can actually live alongside us. Eating meat simply isn’t compatible with this vision unless we develop incredibly effective Star Trek level carbon capture technology.
Buy Carbon offsets
Then brag about it at cocktail parties….
Simple and easy, pay a company to capture carbon for you or to produce renewable energy. Buy the Savoy steak, but pay your man in China to grab the emissions back out of the atmosphere for you, swinging at it with an anti-carbon net, or something.
Do your research, there’s some pretty dodgy offset companies out there that aren’t interested in the environment at all only the dolla.
Just make sure you like the portfoilio of the company you choose and validate their credentials. There are some great ones out there, I use carbonfootprint, but carboncare is apparently good too. It’s pretty cheap, and if you’ve got the dollar you could even calculate your total emmissions across your entire lifetime and pay em off.
Best not to treat it as a get out of jail free card though, it’s a supplement and reductive technique, not a solution.
You can change who supplies your electricity, I have to credit a friend for this as I saw his post about it earlier on fb. Check out the link
30 seconds and you’ll be saving money over the top 6 providers, while taking one big step toward toward living a sustainable lifestyle. Nice.
If you take cold showers you’ll save roughly 300kg of CO2 emissions per year, depending on your frequency of showering.
Heating water uses a ton of energy, a ton of it, considerably more than pumping water along vast distances in pipe networks. This means if you remove the heat component of showers you remove roughly 90% of the energy usage.
Suppose you take one shower per day, eight minutes long, that’s roughly 17 gallons of water (the average American shower)
Most sources agree that this equates to roughly 1kwh of energy.
(A shower is usually 7500W-10,000W, you can check this easily enough depending on if you have a gas or electric heated appliance). Sure enough eight minutes at that wattage comes in at about 1kwh.
According to the US energy information administration the average CO2 emmissions per kwh produced is 0.9kg (roughly 2 pounds). *Note we’re discounting inefficiency of transmission.
So supposing you shower once a day for eight minutes, you emit about 330kg of CO2. Aka, a lot.
I can vouch for cold showers personally, they apparently carry a lot of health benefits, decent exercise in willpower too.
Tough one. Cycle if you can, but I don’t recommend it in London personally. About 26% of emissions worldwide are from transport; so any attempt to avoid vehicles is useful. A lot of people say planes are a big issue, lets check it.
A flight to NY, 5500km, is about a tonne then.
So yes, flying is a really, really difficult one to reconcile. Long haul flights will release huge amounts of CO2, not because planes are inefficient, they rank similarly to cars per person per km however, it’s just because the total distance travelled is crazy.
Not really sure what to say here. I’ve done over 140,000km of flying in the last 4 years, which makes me the devil incarnate. Not sure the cold showers and broccoli are gonna make up for that one…
Anyway, it is possible to reduce your carbon footprint significantly. If everyone did this then we’d be fairly sorted. Oh and governments almost certainly won’t do anything until it’s too late.