2020 & the Climate Crisis

With 2020 well underway, I wanted to write about the climate crisis and the crucial nature of the next decade. I’m no Greta Thunberg, and you’re probably all – to varying degrees – aware of the facts. However, after reading Greta’s book “No one is too small to make a difference”, I felt the need to write something about the topic. To reiterate her message and urge you all to keep fighting for climate justice. But, more than that, we need policy change – and hopefully if we all urge our local councils to prioritise the environment, we can speed up this process.

Trashing the planet

I think one of the biggest issues we face is that trashing the planet has become too affordable, accessible and normal. Ever since the post-war boom, there has been a focus on excess. On buying more than we need, on consuming, on upgrading. Cheap flights have meant that it’s all too tempting to go for quick spontaneous getaways – thereby using more than our fair share of carbon credits. We now live in a society where getting a new phone every two years is the norm. Where buying single-use plastic plagues our daily life. Where we expect heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. And this has to stop.

Doing our bit

Everyone loves that phrase. “Oh, but I’m doing my bit – so I can still…”. I think the notion that, by doing one thing for the environment (e.g. going vegan, taking the train instead of flying etc), we are allowed to carry on trashing it in other ways. However, whilst something is better than nothing, what we need now is radical change. Doing our bit won’t cut it. If we are to cut our global carbon emissions by 50% (in accordance with the Paris Agreement & IPCC, which also takes into account equity and feedback loops), then recycling isn’t enough.

Capitalist consumerist culture

The trouble is, at the moment, making environmentally-friendly & sustainable choices are often more expensive, less accessible and more inconvenient. Plus, they can involve missing out. And no one wants to miss out – on that holiday, that new dress or whatever it may be. At the moment, people are perfectly happy to “do their bit”, so long as it allows them to carry on with their current lifestyles. And, unfortunately, we can’t afford to continue with these lifestyles. Because the capitalist consumerist structure governing our society is fundamentally unsustainable. It is an economic model that depends upon compulsive and excessive consumption in order to thrive – at the expense of both people and planet. What we need is radical policy change in order to incentivise and necessitate sustainable choices. Without it, the consumer is put in an impossible situation where they are simultaneously made to feel guilty for buying into it, but incapable of buying out of it.

Policy change

One of the UK’s issues is that, with BREXIT still at the forefront of our politics, the environment is very much sidelined. Despite the fact that we are in a climate crisis and are facing the largest scale extinction this planet has ever witnessed, with more than 200 species going extinct every DAY. As Greta often says, our house (the earth) is on fire and we should react accordingly. This is an emergency which cannot afford to be sidelined. The next decade will save our seal the fate of our planet – but politicians just don’t seem to be taking it seriously. Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is too little too late, Boris.

Failing, but not failed.

There is hope though. As Greta also repeatedly states, we are failing (massively), but we haven’t yet failed. And we are not inherently evil; no one delights in the fact that we have single-handedly brought this emergency onto ourselves. Below is a list of lifestyle changes you can make, research you can do or events/ charities/ initiatives you can support. It’s by no means exhaustive, but I thought I’d include a few things so that this post isn’t just a complaint but also an urge to help.

  • Join the Green Party (for students it’s only £6/ year)
  • Go vegan or eat as vegan as possible (I appreciate that those with eating disorders may not be in a place to do so)
  • Walk, take public transport, cycle
  • Wear an extra layer & make yourself a hot water bottle instead of turning on the heating
  • School strike for the future
  • Read Greta’s book (it’s so short & inspiring)
  • Support charities/ NGOs such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF
  • Take Action with UKSCN (UK Student Climate Network) or SYCS (Scottish Youth Climate Strike) – strike, set up a strike, join a national or regional team, donate, volunteer
  • Boycott fast fashion

I hope you’ve found this post a bit useful and interesting, and are willing to try some of these suggestions. I always get nervous posting things like this because I don’t want to come across as rude/ a spoil-sport/ controversial, but this needs to be at the forefront of our minds.

Emma ♥♥