Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that calls for a drastic change in lifestyle if we want to preserve the earth’s resources for as long as possible. It also talks about the role of government and why it is vital to the reduction and regulation of greenhouse gases. This is the reason that things like the UN’s Paris Agreement is necessary and valuable. According to the report, we now need to focus on keeping the warming to 1.5°C, instead of the formerly agreed upon 2°C. This means that:
“limiting global warming to 1.5 °C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. In addition to stronger governmental regulations,” (Elliot, 2018)
So, this got me thinking. With the current political climate, where our President removes the United States from the Paris Agreement, and he has weakened coal regulation, and his EPA has moved to remove vehicle efficiency standards put forth by the Obama administration, and the slashing of the EPA’s budget, I began to think: what can I do with my own life to be a good steward of our Earth?
I am ashamed to say that I did not care about the Earth’s health nearly as much as I should have before having a child. In fact, there are a lot of things that matter to me more now that I have a child. But now that I do, I care more about the future of this planet and what will remain after I am gone.
In my research, I have found multiple ways that are easy changes and a few that are harder.∗
The first, easy change, is to reduce and reuse. In addition to recycling the waste that I can, I can also reduce the amount of waste I produce by making a few small changes, like buying items with less plastic packaging, choosing the economy size of an item or buying it in bulk, choosing reusable household items instead of single serve (ie, a rag to clean the kitchen countertops instead of paper towels). A couple other easy changes would be using reusable grocery bags at the store, choosing to use a washable coffee mug at work, using paper instead of plastic when I order food for an event, bring a refillable water bottle to work instead of buying cases of water. There are lots of ways you can make minor adjustments to create a major impact.
Another change is to use less fossil fuel. Whether that means walking or biking more or choosing to use public transportation. It can even be as small as making sure your tires are aired properly and your car maintenance is up-to-date.
Look, I get it, if you live in a suburban area of a city, using less fossil fuel is really challenging. But that doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Unfortunately, Nashville does not have an efficient public transportation system. And I realize that severely reduces the amount that I could/would use it. But maybe there is a way that I could use it 50% of the time, or bike more of the weekends, or walk places in the city, instead.
Finally, one major way that we can combat climate change is to eat less meat.
Wait, wait, wait. Did a Texan really suggest eating less meat? Yes, this Texan did. While I love my meat just like the next Texan, the effect that livestock production has on climate change is 51%! That is huge! What this means is that eating less meat, becoming a vegetarian or even a vegan, is one of the most efficient ways to take care of our planet. The production and consumption of plants and vegetables are much better for the earth than the production and consumption of meat.
My hope and plan going forward is to live my life taking better care of the planet we have been given and to teach my children to be good stewards of the gift that is this Earth.
If you have any suggestions on how I can live more consciously, let me know in the comments! I’m always open to hearing your ideas.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Elliot, D. (2018). IPCC’s climate report: the future’s not looking good. Retrieved from https://physicsworld.com/a/ipccs-climate-report-the-futures-not-looking-good/
∗ https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2017/01/23/nine-things-you-can-do-about-climate-change/#4c905d32680c, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/10-solutions-for-climate-change/, & https://www.nationalgeographic.com/climate-change/how-to-fix-it/