We all know now that the planet in danger of burning up, and we’d all like to keep it from doing so.
While our politicians say they want to do something, their progress is frustratingly slow.
From the United Nations, to the International Panel for Climate Change to the Paris Accord – they all seem to mean well with their speeches, their press releases and their agreements. But, unfair as this comment may be, from where I sit it just seems to be too much talking and not enough action.
And in the meantime, due to a lack of really radical action, the planet is heading towards destruction.
That’s why, in my view, we have all to do something like becoming Gilet Jaunes (the yellow-vested French populist demonstrators who have recently been capturing much media attention).
But not the sort of Gilet Jaunes one sees on the news who are rioting and fighting police.
No, I mean the Gilet Jaunes who are quietly protesting at home and changing the world, one step at a time, the domestic guerrilla warriors who are fighting, without help from politicians or the state, to beat climate change and help the planet stay cool.
This is 2019. We have, we are told, 11 more years until the planet goes into meltdown. So every day counts.
We are told that we must reduce the number of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere. But how can we do this?
Simple research shows that three of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are (1) energy, (2) agriculture and (3) deforestation.
Therefore if we change our own habits to reduce the greenhouse gases pouring into our atmosphere we are doing something ourselves without having to wait for the politicians to take greater action.
It is January (2019), and early January is the time for making New Year’s resolutions. (4)
For 1000s of years, we humans have made New Year resolutions. Up to 60% of us do so every year.
This year and in each of the next 11 years we should use these resolutions to save the planet.
Here are mine for 2019:
1. Stop eating meat and fish
This is not too difficult for me as I am already a vegetarian (since 2010). It’s not difficult when you consider not only the environment but also health and animal welfare.
2. Stop burning fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil, turf)
This is more difficult. We already use only renewable fuel in the office, and I drive an electric-only car which I charge with renewable fuel so that’s all good. But at home, I am having to buy nonrenewable electricity and burn dead wood in a stove. What I intend to do this year is install a small hydro system (we are lucky to have a small stream) for winter power and solar panels for summer power, and use these to charge the car battery, and at night use the battery from the car – we’ll see how we get on ☺.
3. Plant a tree a week (native, preferably nut or fruit).
This is fun. While I have a reasonable sized garden and have already planted over Christmas 5 fruit trees and 10 native trees (oak, holly, willow, hazel) I will run out of garden to plant at week 15. What I intend to do is guerilla plan trees on commonage in Wicklow – keeping to native or near-native species and preferably nuts (hazelnut, walnut, pine nut) and fruit (apple, pear, plum). The drawback is that these trees are not cheap, so my fallback is willow which thankfully grows like a weed just from cuttings.
These, my new year’s resolutions, believe it or not all contribute to achieving the following 10 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals:
2 – zero hunger
3 – good health and well being
6 – clean water and sanitation
7 – affordable and clean energy
8 – decent work and economic growth
10 – reduced inequalities
11 – sustainable cities and communities
12 – responsible production and consumption
13 – climate action
14 – life below water
15 – life on land
Good luck with your own resolutions ☺
1: Energy: burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas, oil, turf releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. While this is true of wood burning also, most trees have life spans of between 20 and a 1000 years, in the bigger scheme of things their carbon when released goes straight back into trees growing nearby (as long as there are trees growing nearby). Renewable electricity does not use fossil fuels and comes from solar, wind, tidal and hydro.
2: Agriculture: while grains, vegetables, fruit and nuts are all carbon storage units (until eaten), animals (including poultry) unfortunately are not. Instead of growing animals in wooded areas (with fruit and nuts) farm animals are now grown in fields of grass. Their huge numbers (in Ireland alone there are over 6 million cattle, 6 million sheep, 2 million pigs, 2 million laying hens, 70 million chickens and 4 million turkeys – a total of 90 million farm creatures) dwarf the human population of less than 5 million and have turned Irish farmers into environmental polluters rather than wildlife conservationists.
3: Deforestation: Forests, especially tropical forests, are being razed at the rate of 80,000 acres every day. When a forest is felled either for commercial (furniture, fencing) or burning (energy) the carbon stored in the wood is released into the atmosphere. Planting and growing trees will help sequester carbon. While Europe has over 40% of its land under forest, Ireland is at just over 10%. Ireland needs to increase its forest coverage from the current 700,000 acres to 2.8 million acres to catch up with Europe. Given that one can plant (depending on whether it is an oak or an apple from 100 to 1,000 trees per acre that means at least 50 trees per person in Ireland need to be planted. Therefore if everyone in Ireland plants at least 5 trees per year we may reach that total of 40% coverage before 2030.
4: Did you know that humans have been making New Year’s resolutions for over 4,000 years and nowadays nearly 60% of adults make New Year’s resolutions?