Read this to find out how you can:
- Save money on electric and gas
- Personally save the environment several tonnes in CO2 emissions each year
- Kick-start the plan to help save the world
I’ve been in awe of this planet my whole life, appreciated the need to really take care of it for a few years, and in the know about the real killer of it for just a few months. In a nutshell, fossil fuels.
Of course there are many other contributing factors to its imminent destruction, including cutting down so many natural habitats that the animals and ecosystems that surround them are disappearing. Ecosystems that despite our absolute disrespect for, we are firmly a part of, and cannot live without.
There’s so much we can do to play our part in preventing this, and I’ll attempt to give some helpful guidance on this in further posts. But for now, I have to talk about what’s coming.
What’s the damage?
I think we all deserve to have awareness so we can make choices on how we live our lives based on the best facts available. So for those of you who like me only had a vague understanding of how much trouble we’re in, brace yourselves, here goes…
97% of environmental scientists agree that on our current path, by the end of the century most of the major cities you could name will be under water and natural disasters (floods/droughts/hurricanes) that are already effecting millions across the globe will be so out of control that only the super-rich will be clinging on to civilisation as we now know it (source – Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything).
This may sound, as my husband pointed out just now when I read this to him ‘a bit dramatic’ and yeah when you first hear this, it’s much easier to believe this is overstated. So if you need a little convincing…
The UN states the following:
‘From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.’
PWC – the second largest professional services company in the world says this:
‘Even with rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, inertia in the climate system means that rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, changes in extreme weather events and sea level rise are unavoidable. These impacts will have consequences for water supplies, infrastructure, agriculture, business operations, social services, healthcare, human lives and many other areas vital to economic and social development.’
This is not some ‘hippie’ myth (nothing against hippies by the way, don’t get why it’s a dirty word, love and peace – sounds good to me!). This is fact, fact that is accepted by all reputable environmental and non-environmental agencies alike. I don’t think it’s really possible to overstate the magnitude of the precipice that we’re clinging onto the edge of, because if we carry on as we are, we are most certainly ALL F**KED.
Climate – not small change
We all have at least a basic understanding that it’s the burning of fossil fuels that releases unmanageable amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This, as we know is heating up the planet and has already begun causing changes in weather which will make the planet uninhabitable. It’s all pretty logical stuff, we’re billions of people obsessed with burning fuel to make things and get places and we’re cooking ourselves in the process.
I must admit I really struggle with the viewpoint that climate change isn’t real. Do people really believe that all this isn’t having an impact on the planet? Surely common sense tells us that we can’t go on like this. Even if you don’t believe what reason and science and your own eyes are telling you, when the planet you live on, your only home is at stake, wouldn’t a ‘just in case’ attitude be more appropriate?
For the ones profiting from it this clearly isn’t the case, they’re way too preoccupied with how much money they can make right now. And worse than that: ‘Many of these companies have also strenuously lobbied – directly or through influential industry trade associations – to block policies encouraging the needed transition to low-carbon energy’ (Frumhoff, Heede, and Oreskes 2015, Source – Union of concerned scientists factsheet).
This is really easy to demonstrate by looking at how much carbon the fossil fuel companies have in their reserves and subtracting the amount of carbon scientists tell us we can emit and still keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (after which we’re absolutely done for). Then you can conclude that these companies have every intention of pushing the planet beyond the boiling point (source – Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything).
Fossil fuel free future
Everything I’ve talked about here is undoubtedly terrifying. It’s so scary in fact that it’s kind of unsurprising that although most of us have at least some notion of it already, we put the whole thing out of our heads and carry on as normal. Most of us are taking that option, but I believe that most of us actually wish we could do something about it, but have no idea where to even begin tackling such a huge issue.
Thankfully this is where the practical way of working I practice in my career that is normally used to maximise profit, can be used for something much more fundamental; to apply to our everyday lives to make things better.
Lean thinking (see the ‘about me’ section for more) benefits problem solving in a corporate setting by getting to the root cause of a problem instead of trying to stick proverbial plasters over the symptoms, and then finding solutions that really fix the underlying issue.
Agile principals build on Lean thinking by encouraging breaking down the fix into smaller parts which you can easily and quickly begin implementing, and adapt the approach as you go depending on the outcome at each stage.
When it comes to climate change, as outlined above, we already know the main root cause as lots of clever people have scientifically proved it for us already – the burning of fossil fuels. Putting money into protecting us from extreme weather is a necessary sticky plaster, and an expensive one at that; in just one example ‘Sea level rise contributed an additional $2 billion in damage to the havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy in New York City (Liefert 2015, Source – Union of concerned scientists factsheet). However, it won’t deal with the real problem of burning fossil fuels. So how on earth do we deal with that?!
Luckily for us some other very clever people have devised a plan to do just that.
Mark Jacobson, a professor from Stanford university co-wrote a plan to get 139 countries of the world onto 80% renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The summary of the article about this explains:
“We develop roadmaps to transform the all-purpose energy infrastructures (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industry, agriculture/forestry/fishing) of 139 countries to ones powered by wind, water, and sunlight (WWS). Converting may create 24.3 million more permanent, full-time jobs than jobs lost. It may avoid 4.6 million/year premature air-pollution deaths … $22.8 trillion/year … in 2050 air-pollution costs; and $28.5 trillion/year … in 2050 climate costs. Transitioning should also stabilize energy prices because fuel costs are zero, reduce power disruption and increase access to energy by decentralizing power, and avoid 1.5C global warming.”
This plan is amazing, its mind-blowing, a group of people have done all that work and come up with a way that we can actually live sustainably on this planet indefinitely. So what’s the problem? The problem is that this plan is not being put into action. The grip that fossil fuel corporations currently have on governments is too strong.
Kick-start the plan, starting today
If the appetite isn’t strong enough for government to take action yet it’s because they don’t think that people care strongly enough about it. There is one thing you can do literally this minute that will use both your democratic power and the power you have as a consumer to make the governments invest in a plan like this, after all there is one thing governments care more about than appeasing corporations – getting your vote.
Switch to renewable energy
It’s literally a case of going on a comparison site, answering a few quick questions about the house you live in and signing up to the cheapest renewable supplier, they take care of the rest. When I and friends of mine have done it we all saved quite a bit of cash too. It’s completely win win.
My supplier is Bulb which is 100% hydro-power. It was the cheapest one available saving me hundreds from my non-renewable supplier and the customer service is great. They keep me informed of any changes and also keep me updated on some interesting facts, like that I’d saved 3.2 tonnes of Co2 emissions from being released last year.
So the question is; do you want to take a small step with a huge impact right now?
If so, switch switch switch. It’s so easy, saves you money and means you’re responsible for cutting Co2 emissions straight away. On top of that it gives governments and corporations the message that you want renewable energy and that’s where your money is going, and if that’s where your money is going then investment will swiftly follow.
There’s a chance that you won’t find a renewable supplier that’s cheaper than your existing one but I think it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not the world’s poorest that are the main contributors to climate change, it’s the people who can afford to heat their ample sized houses and go on holidays that are the main culprits. What I’m saying is if we can afford to maybe it’s OK to pay back a little?
So if you take this first virtually effortless step you will be kick-starting the solution to sustainable living. Of course there’s a way to go but it starts with you, today. I know this might sound a bit fantastical or like a movie where saving the world lies in the hands of the people who go against the grain and see things differently. This is classic to capturing your imagination in fiction. The thing is, never before have we had this momentous a role to play in our own survival, our actions now will literally decide our fate. This is fact, not fiction, we all watch movies and imagine ourselves being the ones who have the foresight to save the world, but now you can ask yourself; who are you in real life?
I read this recently in a book about how to be productive and achieve goals and I think it’s worth passing on. If you’ve read this post and you’re thinking of making the switch to renewables, either do it right away if you can or plan a specific time that you will do it. Visualise in your head what you’ll be doing before and after and make sure you have a suitable slot of time and a place in mind, then write down or say out loud that you’re going to do it and tell someone else that you’re going to do it too. All this makes it more likely that you actually will rather than never quite getting round to it.
Once you’ve done this or if you already have then keep taking opportunities to show governments that you want investment in renewables – share the message, relevant posts and sign petitions on social media, and if you’re interested google what’s going on in your local area. There are lots of fascinating examples of communities across the world which have taken back control of their power, if you come across anything interesting going on share back with your communities (including this one please!) so we can all benefit.
Big businesses have got to be number 1 players by using Lean thinking and Agile to collaboratively work together to improve step by step and fix issues. It works for them and it can work for us, and the planet.
I love a motivational quote so here’s a couple I heard recently just from ordinary people, and for me they pretty much sum it all up.
“I don’t want my kids to say to me – you had a lot of warning signs while we were young and you just turned away, and now look at what we have to deal with.”
“It’s better to embrace change on your own terms than wait until it embraces you by force”
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