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In 2018, Blue Planet II broadcast footage of albatross unwillingly feeding their babies pieces of plastic, and mother dolphins exposing their calves to plastic-contaminated milk. You, like me, probably watched shocked and appalled … maybe even with tears in your eyes. Then afterwards you got up, went to your energy-guzzling fridge and poured another drink. Next, you likely helped yourself to a snack contained in plastic packaging … and uttered a four letter word beginning with S or F. Years before, you probably watched the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal with horror and intrigue before climbing into your diesel car the next day.
You’ve seen the headlines, you know the science. But you know what’s in your fridge, and in your car. You’re worried that if you dare speak about your concerns with friends you’ll be labelled a complete hypocrite. Your concerns are valid… and that fear of being shamed for a lack of purity is completely counterproductive.
Humans are emotional beings - see your chosen social media feed for more details. In today’s Twitter age, those without the power that comes with being a politician, business leader, or celebrity find their voice online.
But in chasing down climate hypocrisy on Twitter, we all miss the bigger picture.
This thing is a system. It’s been roughly 150 years since the industrial revolution began. That’s 150 years in which fossil fuels have worked their way into every corner of our lives.
They’re in the clothes we wear. The transport we use. The toothbrush in our mouths each morning.
Over a century of human development cannot be pinned solely on Jade from Leicester (by the way, Jade isn’t a real person). If we chase down every person who is not currently practicing to the fullest extent every single environmental solution listed, we will be left with almost no one to support the cause.
That includes yours truly. I’ve got another 80 years or so left on this planet. As much as I enjoy the 30 degree temperatures that now form part of British summer, the lack of air conditioning in most places I go suggests it probably isn’t meant to occur here.
I’m concerned for the planet. I know that cutting meat from your diet is a great way to help. I like animals. I’m also an incredibly fussy eater. Spending several months physically gagging on and spitting out new foods as I ‘learn’ to like them is not a psychological ordeal I have found myself ready for. I try and make sure all my drinks cans and other recyclable items go in the recycling bin. Once in a while one slips through the net.
My family has a diesel car. When we need to bring home a weeks worth of food shopping, we use it. When I need to get one or two things from the high road, or visit a local park a kilometre away, I walk. I know from recent reading a tumble dryer is hugely energy intensive. My large weekly two-batch wash makes it all too easy to use. I try to compensate by buying no more than a few items of essential clothing per year.
I could go on and on. The point is, you’re not alone. Often there are so many things contributing to my carbon footprint that it can seem overwhelming. If you’re hesitating to make any changes at all because you’re struggling with being called a hypocrite over some big ones, don’t hold back. To quote a small UK food store: ‘every little helps’.
When everything we do - building houses, making clothes, moving around, producing food - generates the gases that warm our planet, one solution doesn’t cut it.
It’s going to take a hell of a lot of innovation, a lot of little changes and tweaks… and sadly, yes - saying goodbye to some of the things we have in our lives right now.
This thing is a system. We keep being told that simply buying an electric car, or just changing one tiny aspect of your life will solve the problem - dream on.
But what is also clear, is that anything anybody can do right now, helps. Driving less still helps the planet, even if you feel awful for continuing to eat meat.
Have you heard of Strava? That sports app where people track their running and cycling … stay with me here. Strava allows you to record your runs, walks and cycles and upload them to your ‘profile’. Others, like friends, can do the same and you can follow each other, observing one another’s progress and encouraging each other.
The Climate App, which is currently crowdfunding, would work in a similar way. The Climate App would allow you to calculate your carbon footprint and set a variety of goals for ways to reduce carbon emissions - reductions in driving or meat consumption for example. Then, you can track and share your progress (and the reduction in your carbon usage) with others and see the net effect of your friendship circle on CO2 reduction.
This may seem like a plug, and well, this is for the app’s blog. But man-made climate change is a system. Being provided with an innovative way to dismantle that system sounds like a good idea. What works for improving personal fitness and health, might just work for helping you and I to fight climate change.
Right now, as The Climate App is still in its crowdfunding phase, the team need your help to make this carbon-cutting tool a reality - because every individual action counts when it comes to climate change. Contribute now via Indiegogo.
Cameron is a young freelance writer in his early twenties who studied History, Politics and Geography at A-level. He recently wrote another piece about environmental issues in light of the pandemic. Cameron welcomes any further writing opportunities and can be found at the email address: email@example.com