A Millennial’s Guide to Saving the Planet

  Yes, folks! Climate change is real and it’s happening day in and day out, with an intensity and speed that none of us can possibly anticipate; according to the National Geographic, climate change is a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns causing alterations in the average temperature. And the facts & figures are even more frightening. The global average temperature of the Earth has increased by 0.9°C, causing the glaciers and ice sheets in the ocean or lakes to melt leading to a dangerous rise in the average sea level. The accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached a record height of 407.4ppm; last time it was this soaring, it was 3 million years ago when the average temperature of the Earth was 3.6°-5.4° F higher than today and human species had no concrete existence. These high levels of carbon dioxide, in turn, became the core cause of intense heatwaves and forest fires. The enumeration of the loss of rich plant and animal species, due to increased acidity of the ocean and unadaptable conditions of the environment, is so steep that we can safely assume, the existence of our species is in danger. We are standing on the edge of no return, staring at it, as it comes closer, waiting for the apocalypse to happen.

The human Intervention:

As a matter of fact, climate change is not a novel concept. It has been happening throughout history multiple times: There have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat in the past 650,000 years with the dramatic end of the last ice age 7000 years ago, marking the onset of a modern climate era – and the human civilization. These climate changes were minute and attributed to the changes in the earth’s orbit. But lately, the hefty levels of global warming have been the result of human actions since the mid-19th century until today. The uninhibited use of electronics and explicitly the burning of fossil fuels have depleted the non-renewable resources of the earth and contributed to huge levels of CFCs and CO2. With industrialization causing the unmanned release of poisonous gases in the atmosphere, air and water pollution are at their peak. Read more about the causes and consequences of climate change here.

But there’s hope left:

Anyhow, just like every other dark cloud, this too has a silver lining, although it’s a very very tiny one. If the pollution continues, if our habits continue, the emission of greenhouse gases continues, we won’t be very far from a point where there will be no return. The only planet we have will be doomed.  But, let’s imagine we own up to our environment and suddenly stop the emission of greenhouse gases, forget about the existence of plastic, preach and practice the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse & recycle), we might just be able to bounce our planet back out of the gloom. Or we could stop imagining and start acting because we are running out of time. According to the UN, we just have 18 months left to control climate change, to stop all the eco-unfriendly practices, beyond which our beloved Earth could get to a point where it’s too late to save it. Regardless, we are hopeful, not for just to be able to stop climate change, but to be able to maybe even reverse it one day. Certainly, there are many ways to fight climate change. One approach could be changing your habits and the ones of those around you; an individual approach. Another way is to change the entire system. While the first one seems conquerable, it would definitely take more time to influence the mindset of many people at the same time. The latter especially demands immense strength and courage, to be able to stand up against something much bigger than the individual. Let’s have a look at both approaches.

How to control climate change by changing your everyday habits?

  1. Talk about it- climate change seems to be such a huge and complex issue that most people choose to keep quiet about it, just because they feel they alone cannot make a difference. But we urge you to talk about it, to friends, at work, on social media. Because, if there is no discourse, there’s no problem. Healthy discussions and brain-storming could result in some bold and innovative ideas to curb the causes and can get you a group of like-minded individuals, all set to take action. It would also draw the attention of the leaders and decision-makers, compelling them to take strong initiatives.
  2. A Climate-friendly diet- A climate-friendly diet includes plant-based proteins, conscious choice of brands to use, buying local produce to reduce the energy spent in transportation and indulging in minimum food wastage. Meat and dairy products are responsible for 14% of the global climate-changing emissions, and they consume a lot more energy to grow or be produced. Additionally, a vegan diet is much healthier for you, as all the meats are contaminated with a certain amount of pesticides and insecticides, leading to an accumulation of harmful chemicals in your body, a concept known as biomagnification.
  3. Reduce your carbon footprint- The amount of carbon dioxide released in the air because of your energy needs is called your Carbon footprint. You need transportation, electricity, food, clothing, and other goods. Your choices make a difference; choose LEDs instead of old incandescent bulbs which consume 32% lesser energy, choose recyclable apparels, turn off the electronics when not in use, choose walking over driving for a small distance, carpool whenever possible and try to live an organic lifestyle, depending more on natural sources of energy and causing minimum wastage.
  4. Be conscious of your daily habits- In today’s fast-moving consumerist world, it is very easy to lose yourself amidst the chaos. But, being conscious of small changes in your habits can save us the cost of losing the limited non-renewable resources; like while using your phone or laptop, reduce the brightness to save energy, do not leave your phone to charge overnight as even when it’s charged, it causes wastage of electricity, and the earth will thank you for this. Choose standard delivery instead of fast track and order in bulk instead of smaller installments, which will spare the world of the extra wastage of energy and emission of CO2.
  5. Reduce your trash pile- Use as much recyclable stuff as possible. Switch to copper water bottles, which last for years and enrich the water with nutrients; practice BYOM (Bring your own mug) for parties instead of plastic or paper cups; buy the products which use lesser packaging and minimize the use of plastic items.
  6. Switch to eco-friendly energy resources- Go a little easy on exhaustive resources like coal, oil, and gas and say Hi! to Eco-friendly energy resources such as sun and wind. Use solar heater and panels to power the electronics of your house and let your clothes air dry.
  7. Act against Forest loss- Take part in the tree plantation drive or volunteer for Forest conservation, one tree planted can absorb tons of CO2 throughout its life. Avoid anything that may be a fire hazard and if you want to buy wood, choose the one that can certify its sustainable origin.
  8. Be a One-Man army- Put an end to waiting for a superhero to save the planet and change the system, own up and be a hero. Things won’t change until you take the matter in your hands. Take charge of the garbage in your neighborhood, for the energy wastage at your workplace, for tree plantation in your city and you will see the conditions improve. If you think a lone man isn’t enough, meet Manar Elkebir, a 17-year-old student, theatre actress, young environmentalist, and climate activist. One summer at the beach with her grandparents, she noticed the pile of plastic bottles, sunscreen tubes and other trash all around her. Her grandma got reminiscent of the past times where they could spot dolphins, sea turtles and exotic fishes in the ocean, near the shore. Well, Manar could also see them, but lying dead on the shore, pulled out by the tide, suffocating from chemicals dumped by the industries and plastic thrown in the sea. She decided that something needs to be done, and founded Eco wave with a mission to expand the individual impact, educate people and change mindsets to abandon plastic and switch to alternatives. She spoke publicly with local decision-makers for various projects which made her an Ocean hero. Today more than 120 Tunisian youth is a part of Eco wave and fighting back the damage done.

How can you control climate change by changing the system?

  1. Question the big corporations: The industries and big corporations need to know that their actions are harming our daily lives and the environment that we live in. They need to know that we are angry at the fact that our happiness is in question. They need to know that they can’t trade our planet for their profits, that we are the power and we will stand up for our land.
  2. Demand from the government: Make demands for a more sustainable life from the government, be it using more eco-friendly public transport, implementing strict pollution control regulations over the industries, promoting the use of renewable energy and non-polluting means of transport such as bicycles among the citizens, sustainable waste management and proper conservation of the gardens and forests.
  3. Take action in your community: Organize climate-action groups in your community to develop and implement practical, local solutions and make the city more climate-friendly. Spread awareness about the deadly consequences of careless waste management and the explicit use of plastic. Teach people a sustainable lifestyle that uses minimum energy. You can also organize local cleanliness drives in the neighborhood or seaside.
  4. Elect mindfully- Being able to vote is more of a power and less of a privilege, use it wisely to elect strong and visionary leaders who can bring about the necessary changes in the system to ensure an ecologically sustainable area.
So, since you have a list of things that you could begin with right now, in your own Odyssey to save the planet, we hope you succeed! Because that’s the least we owe to our future generations. As a starter, you could volunteer abroad for climate action, or save the Marine life, or help in a conversation of the wildlife, with AIESEC. Find more information about it here. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” Rightly said by the young climate activist, Greta Thunberg, who, like all of us showed her disregard to the sensitive situation, but chose to act upon it, chose to create the reality she hopes for the world. In fact, each one of us can set things right, act upon the panic, do heroic things, and make our planet beautiful and safe; for us and for the generations to come, because If not now, then when? If not us, who?