2018; 14 extreme-weather events globally that resulted in more than $1 billion in damages.
Christmas 2019; a state of emergency declared. 33 Australian lives lost, millions of animals wiped out, and 3094 homes destroyed by a heatwave that trailed an uncontrollable blaze.
March 2020; WHO characterised the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. The crisis papered over the bushfire crisis, and the underlying climate crisis.
By the end of 2020; the largest wildfires on record in California. The Californian wildfires saw 31 lives lost when 9,639 fires wind-whipped their way across 4.4 million acres. The August Fire Complex was labelled the first ever Gigafire. The intense fires are caused by increased warming caused by climate change.
And now, March 2021; the NSW Gov declared a natural disaster as thousands are evacuated from their homes during an unpredicted flood emergency. Two men have lost their lives to the catastrophe.
Broader climate changes include: rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic, and shifts in flower and plant blooming times. According to BBC News, human activity, especially greenhouse gas emissions, is considered the dominant cause of temperature increases.
“Change only happens when individuals take action,” Aliya Haq, deputy director of NRDC’s Clean Power Plan initiative, says. “There’s no other way, if it doesn’t start with people.”
Sadly, Australia is the 14th biggest greenhouse polluter in the world.
While statistics matter, it's more critical at this point to discuss climate change solutions. Today, I want to focus on what you can do as an individual that will have immediate positive impact on the planet. To follow, I've listed three simple actions you can take to reverse climate change today.
1. Carbon dioxide is the climate’s worst enemy. It’s released when oil, coal, and other fossil fuels are burned for energy—the energy we use to power our homes, cars, and smartphones. By using less of it, we can curb our own contribution to climate change while also saving money. We, as individuals can only do so much. Change does need to happen at a policy level. Add your name to the chorus of Australians who are demanding stronger action here!
2. Approximately 10 percent of energy goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping food—about 40 percent of which ends up in the landfill. Eating the food that we have will dramatically reduce carbon pollution. Additionally, livestock products are among the most resource-intensive to produce - the methane they release is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide which is the enemy of the plant. Therefore, eating meat-free meals can make a huge difference, too. If we all can reduce our meat intake by half, this will make a vast positive difference.
3. Electricity is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, responsible for 32% of emissions. This is mainly because 84% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, the large majority of this (59.9%) is from burning coal. Begin by switching off lights and electricity when they're not being used and, if you can, go green by switching to solar panels.
The good news is, the state with the highest proportion of renewable energy is Tasmania, where they have already reached net zero emissions! The ACT is on track to reach its renewable energy target of 100% by the end of 2020, too.
Let's start with these three simple steps and we will all be closer to a brighter future!