Another report and the message on climate change is still the same – our emissions must be zero

I used to write about climate change quite a bit on my blog. The first posts date from 2013. I was usually prompted to write after having an emotional reaction to something I had read or heard – usually someone denying it was happening.

One of my earliest posts was prompted by claims that climate science was a hoax invented by scientists to further their careers. Hopefully no one believes that any more. Since then 8 years have gone by and the science of climate change is stronger than ever – not that it wasn’t strong back then, or even new.

The Irish scientist, John Tyndall, wrote about the greenhouse effect back in 1859. A century later came this video:

Then James Hansen gave his senate testimony to congress warning of global warning in 1988.

Fast-forward to 2021 and the latest IPCC report has just come out. The message is still the same but what could have been solved quite easily 50 years ago has now become much more difficult. It looks like we’re going to hit 1.5C of warming above pre-industrial times by 2040. That’s not far away now – just 19 years.

The solution is quite simple: our emissions must be zero. Not lower but ZERO. We also need to suck up all the carbon above 350 parts per million that we’ve already emitted and that we’re continuing to emit right now.

Here are four simple things every individual can do to make a difference:

  1. Stop eating meat. Livestock farming accounts for about 14% of all our emissions. You can still have a terrific life! I have lost none of life’s pleasures by eating exclusively plants. Indeed it has opened my eyes to lots of new foods and it has improved my health. There are, after all, some 20,000 species of edible plants on the planet.
  2. Get rid of the petrol/diesel car and walk and cycle more. Transport is now the biggest carbon emitting sector in the UK. Try using public transport rather than driving but the best is to walk and cycle more. It’ll improve your mental and physical health too.
  3. Use renewable energy. Most energy suppliers in the UK have a green energy option and there are some suppliers that offer green energy exclusively. It’s worth replacing light bulbs with LED bulbs – they’re much cheaper and you’ll see a decrease in your energy bill. Put on a jumper rather than turning the heating on. Turn the lights off. Insulate the house.
  4. Divest your pension/superannuation from fossil fuels. Divestment has been a successful strategy for bringing about change in the past. In the 1980s, divestment from companies in South Africa helped to end apartheid. It used to be quite difficult for individuals to divest their pensions because there wasn’t a fossil-free choice but there are lots now and they’re very good. I completely divested from fossil fuels last year just before the pandemic began and my pension has made huge gains that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

If you’re already doing these things and more then let me know! I want to hear from you. I’m the only person in my circle who has done these things and I can’t do it by myself. It is somewhat depressing not to know of a single other person who has done these four simple things but I feel sure there must be some readers of my blog who have gone further than me. If this is you and you’ve got more suggestions for what we can all do then please leave a comment.

19 Replies to “Another report and the message on climate change is still the same – our emissions must be zero”

  1. Depressing, isn’t it, when people won’t even do simple things to help the planet they live on to survive? One of the problems, I believe, is that most people have a poor ability to visualise a concept. It has to materialise and be in front of their eyes before it’s real, or motivates them. Others, like us it seems, can visualise quite well, and that’s enough to motivate us. Of course, there’s also just the “can’t be bothered”people who don’t want to make the effort to make some changes. Funnily enough, they’re often the ones who complain the loudest when things go wrong. Not used to a bit of inconvenience, I guess. It’s good for us to have a little inconvenience in our lives – makes us think a bit, and stops us from getting too soft 😊 As you know, I’m a vegan, and although I expect I still leave a footprint on this earth, it’s way smaller than the average person’s – like yours is. Thank you for being one of those who ‘walk lightly on the earth’.

    1. Yes, maybe. Like viewing a house with bad furniture and interior design and being unable to see the potential? Do you think that translates to how people view food and they can’t imagine anything beyond peas and mashed potato?

      1. I think it’s that inability to to view things with more than a narrow lens. Plus, most people aren’t really brave enough to go against their group. The only way they will make changes is it if they’re forced to. Of course, by then we’ll locked into fifty years of deteriorating climate conditions, no matter what changes we make. Actually, I think we’re locked into that already.

      2. You’re not alone, Rachel. As a veggie of 45 years, avid cyclist and intermittent car owner, and not having flown for 2 decades, it is such a relief to see zero waste shops popping up, see XR burgeoning and feel that people are finally starting to realise our neglect of planet earth. Your blog has been an inspiration – I was first drawn to it by your use of a cargo bike and found so much more (crochet, recipes and a glimpse into life in Aberdeenshire). Unfortunately as a species we are way too slow to adapt, but it feels like the momentum is finally building.

      3. Thanks, Kendal. It’s great to read your comment. There is much to be hopeful for like, as you say, zero waste shops and the rise of XR. Change is happening just not fast enough. I also despair when I see all these councils around the UK ripping up bike lanes.

  2. I didn’t know about divestment, that it could make such a big difference. I will look into this.
    Also while we were in York we were staying next to the National Trust shop and we ate a lot of salad. It really inspired me to think of ways to nourish ourselves more using dried beans and grains, and I could really see us as a family starting to eat much less meat.
    In the German newspaper today, their second headline was about the IPCC report, it’s hard to imagine it being such big news in the UK.

    1. Divestment is probably the hardest one of those four because for most people their pension/super is decided by their employer and as an employee they don’t have much say. But as a start they can write to HR or whoever makes these decisions to try to push for change.

  3. I do what I can. I’ve cut my meat and dairy consumption considerably. I vowed many years ago never to fly again. I use public transport whenever I can. My energy provider ‘claims to be’ ‘green’ (but I take all such commitments with a pinch of salt these days, I’m all too aware of greenwashing), and I’ve altered the heating controls so that the boiler isn’t firing up as much as it once did.

    But all these acts are peanuts. Even if everyone did the same, we’d still have a trivial effect. The real problem is industry.And that’s supported by a bunch of morons who deem ‘the economy’ and ‘growth’ to be be more important than life. Those are the minds that need to change… and, sadly, I fear they’ll go to their deathbeds believing that ‘they did their best’.

    Homo fatuus brutus deserves its fate. Fuck ’em. Fuck us.

  4. Influencing the young to see the important matters of the world in a positive light might be the key. Like how to make a veggie burger, the joy of going “Woohooooo!” down hill on a push bike… Poor kids that sit in a bedroom with a computer all day… Have you heard of [ Positive News ] that gives only that? I get the heads up stuff via an email.
    https://www.positive.news/

    1. I had not heard of that site before. What a great idea. I’ll bookmark it for future reference. Positive news is very motivating.

      1. In a world full of the ugly horrors, these lovely folks put the ups forward for attention.

      1. I’m looking through them and thinking how I tick lots of these already. So I’m all 🍵 “Yes!” and 🚲 “Woohoo!” and 🌱 “Yay!”…

  5. Hello Rachel, I tried responding to your blog post, but it didn’t work. Here is what I wrote. Kid Regards, Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew, I can’t see what you’ve written other than the two lines you’ve left as a comment. Should there be more? Let me know if you’re having troubles commenting and I’ll investigate. Thanks.

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