Episode 6 – 8 June
So we humans broke a record in the middle of May – but unfortunately I’m sorry to say it’s not a good one! And let me tell you why…..Scientists reported that average daily levels of carbon dioxide, CO2 in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million. Now that figure, I know, doesn’t really mean anything in isolation… but when you realize what 400 parts per million actually means, I promise you, it’s super scary! CO2 levels haven’t been this high for at least 3 million years! This is crazy stuff! And I can guarantee that it will bring climate changes that humans have never experienced before. I almost want to say that the 400 PPM milestone is symbolic, but then again it’s a reminder of how global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions are failing, there’s no other way of saying it. Let’s just say we project realistic outcomes, then we know we are talking about melting ice caps, rising sea levels, extreme weather, but because we’re moving into a territory that’s really beyond any human experience, to be honest nobody knows exactly what 400 PPM will look like. Read more….
Climate change is just one of those topics that practically dares you to step up to it …. We know it exists and we know it’s critical, but I know it’s so enormous that it’s even hard for me to wrap my head around it and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way. We see the decrease in numbers of polar bears; sure, we see the cyclones and the floods in distant lands, droughts, hurricanes, I’m just thinking of that massive tornado in Oklahoma recently that killed at least 24 people and damaged or destroyed as many as 13,000 homes – yet somehow it seems so far away that it’s just easier to think, “What can I do about it? I’ll worry about it tomorrow.” Don’t we all do that?? But the truth is, tomorrow is rapidly becoming today. Although we may not often acknowledge it, climate change affects each and every one of us – but each and every one of us can also affect climate change. We can think about our own actions, make small changes and set good examples for our children, our neighbors and friends. And we can talk about it, because I believe as with all social movements throughout history, awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. So today, I want to ask you to take a moment to look at your own habits and actions, and consider what small changes you can make that will contribute to the larger effort. The easiest way for each of us to begin is to try and reduce our own carbon footprints. So I’ve made up a list of twelve simple things you can begin with today:
1. Stop Your Junk Mail – Is your mailbox always loaded with unwanted advertisements, credit card applications and catalogs? Save yourself the trouble of sifting through them and help reduce the millions of tons of paper discarded in the world each day.
Did you know that it takes 600 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger? That shocking figure aside, the carbon emissions that result from meat production are some of the most potent, and are large contributors to climate change. You don’t need to go vegetarian to make a difference – eliminating meat from your diet just one day a week can make a huge impact.
3.Weatherize Your Home – If your house feels a bit drafty, you could be wasting money and contributing to environmental pollution because of unnecessary energy use. Seal up your home by installing storm doors and windows, using caulking and weatherstripping and adding insulation. Both your wallet and Mother Nature will thank you.
4.Stop Buying Bottled Water – Bottled water is convenient, but so is putting filtered water into a reusable bottle. Plastic bottles leave a huge carbon footprint – from production to shipping to disposal.
5.Switch off your geyser – Flipping the switch only takes seconds, making it a simple way to save money and reduce your energy usage.
6.Invest in Power Strips – We all know unused electronics waste energy when we leave them plugged in, but who has time to go around unplugging everything every time they leave the house? Power strips are the perfect solution. Plug everything in at the same spot, and just flip the switch to your power strip on and off as needed. Quick, easy and energy-efficient.
7.Use Passive Solar Heating – Harness the power of the sun! During cold months, open up your curtains during the day and let the sun shine in to heat your home naturally.
8.Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies – It’s amazing what baking soda, vinegar, lemon and soap can do. Make your own cleaning products to cut down on the amount of toxins in your home and in the environment outside.
9.Think Before You Buy – Cut down on waste and clutter by buying less. Before you go to the store, write up a list and stick to it. You’ll save a ton of money and unnecessary waste by passing on impulse buys.
10.Eat Local and fresh – Local, seasonal foods are not only fresh and delicious, they also have much less of an environmental impact. Many of the foods in the grocery store have been frozen and shipped thousands of miles to reach their destination.
Now for some interesting conservation news and I know the video of the “Guide confronting the Elephant” might be old news by now… but it really hit a chord with me. When I read about this and eventually went on to youtube to watch the video I was completely taken aback and couldn’t believe that some people have so little respect for animals, and I mean in this case, a wild animal! Some of you might not have seen the video…..but basically the video shows a man charging an elephant in the Kruger National Park and what makes this story even worse is that he is game guide – sworn to uphold a specific ethical code. The footage shows the man, who looks drunk, confronting the wild elephant as he is egged on by his friends. The foreign press got hold of the story and it went viral… which is not so good for our South African tourism industry… especially as there have already been elephant attacks in Kruger this year. So Kruger takes elephant interactions very seriously and educates tourists about how to behave in their presence… For example – Give elephants plenty of space; do not approach or get too close to their young and, if driving, wait for the elephant to move. Be patient, I visit the Kruger often and its amazing to see how people get so impatient , wanting to rush off to the next sighting or to their camp. So now you can just imagine how disturbing it was to learn that it was a “professional” responsible for this disgusting behavior! Read more….
But before I get too morose and depressed.… it’s time for some fun and games…. Fun and games that Dr Paula Owens feels might actually save the planet! I believe a very refreshing way to tackle conservation and environmental problems! Dr Owen believes that that people don’t easily engage with ‘doom and gloom’ messages, which is probably, I think it sort of makes people feel powerless. Her theory is that if you couch the message in fun activities or games you have a better chance of getting your message across… and of changing behavior, which is the most important part. Read more….
And I want to leave you with this message of the Dalai Lama which he gave at an environmental summit in Portland, just a couple of days after the CO2 hit the 400 mark. He says: “Environmental protection, taking care of our world, is like taking care of our own home. This is our only home, so we have to take care, and not only for our generation. Inner wealth – human affection, human friendship, these are the most important.”