Image courtesy: NASA
A New Hope For The World! As Harrison Ford said in a recent interview: “Nature will take care of itself — Nature doesn’t need people, people need Nature to survive,”.
The climate change conference (COP21) in Paris, earlier this month, was deemed a success for government cooperation, insomuch as it showed that Man’s survival was an important agenda. Finally! But what can you and I do to make the agreement The framework for The solution to many of the World’s ills?
Use your own intelligence and embrace 10 things that you can actually do yourself to attack climate change and help Man survive.
The experts agree: a new hope is with us, we can all be part of the solution that will reduce CO2 (and other “greenhouse gases”) and make any future temperature increase much smaller. Here are 10 things that will insure your children and grandchildren survive in a bountiful World.
The 10 Things You Can Do Today
When I was a boy scout we always took our cutlery and food containers with us, washed them, and made them ready for another meal. In the 21st century, typically we are presented with plastic containers and or plastic plates and or plastic cutlery. Almost all plastics comes from refining (burning off the bits they don’t need: bad guys) oil. Why not use paper, wood, bamboo, coconut etc instead?
I was recently involved with taking a bunch of city-folk to a remote Philippine island (Sibale a.k.a. Maestre de Campo or Conception) where plates cups & cutlery made from coconut and bamboo were all that was available – because we (the organizers) banned plastic in advance. The city-folk were so impressed that they bought all of the cutlery and plates after the meals, because they wanted to show that they were part of the solution.
By using paper, wood, bamboo and coconut, you not only make a statement that you want to be part of the solution but you also encourage the replanting of trees and plants in places where the forests have previously been destroyed for firewood or for grazing. Commerce follows the market; let’s make the cutlery and plates market a market where replanting trees and plants is more profitable than refining oil . . . .
It takes something like 10 kilos of input to produce one kilo of edible beef output (around 6:1 for pork), meanwhile the cow is processing the remaining 9 kilos and converting a significant portion into methane – methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, 30 times more potent than CO2. By contrast, poultry takes between 2 and 3 kilos input to produce 1 kilo of edible output, with virtually no methane.
In many parts of the World, Man cuts the virgin forest to produce grassland that enables beef production. The virgin forest takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and converts it into harmless (but very necessary for Man’s survival) oxygen (O2).
In other words, eating less beef, reduces methane in the atmosphere, reduces the need to cut virgin forest and maintains oxygen production. Plus, plus and plus for a better World . . .
Go further: be like Arnold Schwarzenegger and make one or two days a week a veggie-day, with no meat at all. Better for your digestive system, better for your World.
In the supermarket we frequently we find products and produce that come from other countries, they are frequently more expensive, based on the actual cash outlay, when compared to local items. Whenever something comes from another country it must have come by ship or airplane – both ships and airplanes are significant sources of CO2, through the use of diesel or gasoline or kerosene (all fossil fuels: bad guys) to provide the transportation.
Whether the real (CO2) cost is built into the product (unlikely) or whether the product is deliberately under-priced in order to force your local suppliers out of business, is irrelevant. [I am thinking here of the example of China, and a decade or more of infiltrating the global canned mushrooms market – items that have all but disappeared derived from “local” sources] The fact is that the CO2 cost is huge by comparison to buying a local product.
Buying local products and produce means you eat healthy and you keep your personal CO2 footprint to an absolute minimum, and you frequently save cash that you can put to better use to enjoy more of your World.
The ubiquitous drinking straw has been with us since the Sumarians (around 3000 B.C.), when they were typically made of gold and used by the elite when drinking what we would recognize as beer. Other drinking straw materials came into vogue during the 1800s and rye grass became a popular (and inexpensive) material, although it did tend to pass on the flavor of the grass to the drink. It was this added-flavor attribute that caused Marvin Stone to patent the tasteless, paper drinking straw in 1888.
So much for history. Modern drinking straws, made of throw-away plastic, are designed to be used once and then committed to the rubbish tip, where the chemicals in the plastic will eventually contaminate the ground water – source of your drinking water and irrigation for your food production.
Paper drinking straws have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity almost everywhere, in order to avoid contamination of ground water. The only industry that seems intransigent, and refuses to switch to paper drinking straws, is the fast-food industry. Why? Because immediate profit is more important to the fast-food industry than the future health and welfare of planet Earth.
Send a strong message to the fast-food industry by refusing to accept plastic drinking straws. If you need to use a drinking straw (I struggle to find an actual necessity for them) then use paper or bamboo. Paper is disposable and will biodegrade.
On another island adventure for city-folk, to Asia’s Galapagos (Sibuyan Island) we offered bamboo drinking straws. Bamboo is reusable, does not add any flavor to the drink and, when you do decide to invest in a new one, its predecessor is fully biodegradable upon disposal. The local community on Sibuyan Island now grow an indigenous specie of bamboo specific for the purpose, and they have built a sustainable livelihood program exporting bamboo straws around the World.
When I watch the traffic flow (on not, at rush hour) along congested highways and streets, it is obvious that very few people actually have good “friends” (despite what their Facebook accounts would suggest). Certainly not friends that they can trust to share a vehicle with. Too many private vehicles have one or two occupants, when the vehicle capacity is four or six (or more).
If everyone found one friend (maybe a new one), who travels along a similar route, on the same day, and chose to share their vehicle with them, then the number of private vehicles on the roads would be reduced by 30% to 50%. The corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions would go a long way towards the target of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5deg.
Share with a friend, reduce traffic volume, get to where you are going faster and help Man survive in the only World we have.
The Philippines is classed as a “developing” country, still with claimed high levels of poverty, and yet the majority seem to have sufficient money available to avoid walking, sometimes even a journey as short as one city block demands motorized transport.
Walking is good for the health and avoids vehicle derived CO2 production; and it also saves on you medical expenses, because you do not need a doctor or a pharmacy when you are healthy.
For not so short distances the bicycle is an excellent alternative to walking. The recent growth of cycling in the Philippines, as a means for getting to and from some short-to-medium distant objective, is encouraging. Spawned a decade ago by an influx of second-hand bicycles from Japan (not sure why), this decade has witnessed a sustained growth in cycling as a means of transport, beyond simple recreation.
Cycling, when used as a substitute for travel by car and bus, reduces CO2 and the exercise keeps you healthy, both of which improve your personal chances of survival.
Egg cartons can become Xmas decorations; old jeans can become travel pouches; tin cans can become office desk containers (for pens, cutters and letter openers). The list is endless when one considers how much otherwise throw-away “packaging” and cast-offs are simply committed to the rubbish tip.
When we were children we imputed imagination into whatever resources were available, to achieve the objective of the moment: a large cardboard box we could sit in became a space ship or an aeroplane, a spring from a ball-point pen became a rocket launcher – we could not buy that which we imagined and our responsible parents encouraged ingenuity anyway. The interesting thing was that the items into which we had ingeniously imputed our imagination became more intrinsically valuable and were not so easily discarded. Over too many decades, the plastic-fantastic industry has managed to convince us that nothing needs to be re-used because it is all available in shiny, new, colorful plastic, that you can simply throw away if it breaks (as surely it will do; irreparably, usually) or, when you get lured into buying a shiny new one because someone on television said it was a good idea.
In the Philippines most things are re-used as best as is possible; here, little goes to waste. I used to live in Hong Kong – a place where everything was thrown away as soon as possible. Even here, in this land of re-use, the volumes of unusable items in the trash-can (predominantly discarded plastic items) multiply with every passing year. Given the right motivation, even the otherwise “disposable” can become a “usable” – it just requires a little imagination about the future.
Expand your imagination and re-use everything possible, and this will help the CO2 return to manageable levels. Let’s ingeniously imagine our way to a better World, for the survival of Man.
Almost a decade ago, a severe typhoon cut the power to much of Metro Manila for a number of days. However, there were a few people who did not care that the electricity was cut because they had solar (UV) panels and or wind turbines on the roofs of their houses, and they could party into the night with plenty of cold beer.
The cost of solar panels has dropped to a point where it is now competitive with fossil fuels for producing electricity. Battery technology has improved to a point where it is also cost effective to store unused energy, from the sun and wind, for use when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.
Install solar panels and wind turbines on your roof and you not only help reduce CO2 but you have the added advantage that, when everyone else is without power, your refrigerator will still work to keep your beer cold.
If I have said this once then I said this one thousands times: learn how to plan your family so that you live within the means of the World. All too often I discover families who have three, four or more children, and yet the parents have not been given enough information about basic human biology to work out how to avoid having additional children that the World cannot afford. Affording a child goes beyond the basic cost of food, education, medical treatment etc. and goes into the larger realm of CO2 consumption through just living (eating, drinking, clothing, shelter etc.), that the next child will, by necessity, engage in.
Many here in the Philippines say, “I am Catholic and therefore I am not allowed to do anything to avoid conception . . . it is God’s will”. To those I can only offer the recent utterance of Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s leading adviser on climate issues, who has clearly stated that the Catholic Church is not against preventing conception.
Instead of using “it’s my religion” and “I did not graduate therefore I do not know” as excuses, try using this simple rule: stop on 10 (days, counting from the 1st day of menstruation), start on 20, and at other times use a condom. The 10/20 rule is not foolproof, but it does cover 95% of the World’s child-bearing population. If you want to get really technical and manage your own specific fertility cycle then there are calculators on the Internet to help you discover when conception can (and cannot) take place.
By helping to cap the growth of the global population you will be reducing the demand for plastics, grassland, oil, fossil fuel energy and more.
It cannot be God’s Will to let humanity (and all else that He is credited with creating) die because Man has usurped the gift of life, simply to satisfy his own personal greed or to emphasize his ignorance. The knowledge is here: your God(s) gave you the ability to gain the knowledge, handed down through the millenia; and, the Internet empowers the ignorant to become knowledgeable. Use the knowledge now or face a very bleak future, with nothing to offer your children at all except an empty space where once lived a countless million varieties of plants and animals that were all connected to the same vital force of life: survival.
Embrace these 10 thing you can do to attack climate change and you will protect all of Nature’s creations (including the ones as yet undiscovered), and you will help Man survive to enjoy a bountiful World – the only World you have to bequeath to your children.
If you cannot do any of the above then try this one, it’s easy:
Palm oil has become the processed food manufacturers’ oil of choice because it is cheap, in comparison to corn oil, canola oil etc.. The reason it is cheap is that the palm tree, from which the palm nut and thence the palm oil is derived, grows easily in relatively low income countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
In order to grow such an abundance of palm trees the second largest rainforest on the planet is being cut at faster rates than are apparent in the Amazon. The forest is stripped bare to make way for the palm trees. The consequence is that the rainforest, that previously converted CO2 into O2, is being rapidly depleted. Quite apart from the destruction of one of the World’s least studied rainforest Eco-systems, that holds many undiscovered aides for Man’s survival (plus, now endangered, indigenous orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Borneo elephants etc.), and the extra CO2 being produced (through the expanded palm oil production and transportation from this distant corner of the planet), the life-supporting O2 is no longer being produced.
Palm oil may be cheap to produce but that is only because nobody has factored in the real wealth that the rainforest provides to Man in all other respects. If we calculated the real cost of the lost real wealth from the rainforest then palm oil would be far too expensive to use for simply processing food.
Read the ingredients label on the package and if you see palm oil, put it back on the shelf. If you do not buy it there will be no market for the palm oil; if there is no market for palm oil then the forest will slowly be restored and the chances for Man’s future survival will be improved dramatically.