“For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.”
This is the opening statement on the homepage of the Earth Day website, and it’s an important one. The climate crisis has worsened significantly over the past few years. As Earth Day suggests, “Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.”
Let’s cut to the facts
We’re not here to sugar-coat anything – our planet is in crisis, and unfortunately, we’re responsible. Climate change is already having a huge impact on the world and everything in it. Here’s how it’s affecting the world.
How it’s affecting us
Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, climate change affects people everywhere. You may have noticed how weather patterns near you are shifting or how more frequently Australia is experiencing heat waves. Some areas are experiencing more severe flooding or bushfires. It’s also putting a significant strain on the agricultural sector and has resulted in a scarcity of resources like food and water that are less reliable as growing seasons change and seasons become less predictable.
The warmer weather carries with it a range of issues, including the potential extension of mosquito season. This increases the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. This puts the developing nations around the world at a more elevated risk than others – due to a lack of medical support and healthcare systems – even though they’ve contributed far less to the increase in carbon emissions that has caused this warming in the first place.
How it’s affecting wildlife
Climate change is causing stress to animals across the world. Many of these species have even reached the limit of where they can go to find hospitable climates. As temperatures become warmer, native animals that depend on cooler habitats may be particularly vulnerable. Climate change affects our animals directly, but it’s also having a damaging effect on the ecosystem and food chains each animal has adapted to. Nature Australia uses the following example:
“Salmon rely on steady-flowing cold rivers to spawn. As climate change alters the temperature and flow of these waterways, some salmon populations are dwindling. This affects many species that rely on salmon as a food source like orcas or grizzly bears.”
How it’s affecting the ocean
When it comes to our oceans, the warming ocean temperatures are melting polar ice, shifting ocean currents and fish migrations, and leading to coral bleaching and dieoff. On top of this, they’re absorbing extra carbon dioxide, which is altering the oceans’ chemistry and making them more acidic.
Alarmingly, the rate of ocean acidification is the highest it’s been in 300 million years, which, in turn, harms a number of marine life and their habitats.
Why it’s time to act
If we continue as we are now, the world as we know it will never be the same. A failure to act to decrease the rising temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere increases threats such as:
- Rising sea levels which could displace millions of people.
- Ecosystem collapse.
- More frequent and severe weather.
- An increase in temperatures above three degrees by 2100 causing irreversible damage to ecosystems.
Pretty scary stuff, right? However, it’s not too late to act.
I’m only one person, though; what can I do?!
Yes, you may only be one person, but if every ‘one person’ does their part, we can make a difference. Your lifestyle choices significantly impact the environment, so we can each do our part by making conscious choices. The United Nations have created a list of ten actions we can do to help tackle the climate crisis:
Save energy at home – Start the change in your home. Most of our electricity and heat are powered by coal, oil, and gas. You can reduce your energy usage by lowering your heating and cooling, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing your laundry with cold water, or hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer.
Walk, bike, or take public transport – Every vehicle on our roads contributes to carbon emissions, with most of them burning diesel or gasoline. By walking or riding a bike instead of driving, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s great for your health too! If your destination is too far to walk or ride, consider taking public transport or carpooling wherever possible.
Eat more vegetables – Mum was right – eating your veggies IS good for you! Not only is it good for you, but it’s also good for the environment as it can significantly lower your environmental impact. The production of plant-based foods results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land, and water. Try eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and reducing your meat and dairy intake.
Consider your travel – We’re not saying never travel again, but consider any unnecessary travel on aeroplanes, as they burn large amounts of fossil fuels, which produce significant greenhouse gas emissions. Taking fewer flights can aid in reducing these emissions. If it’s a business trip or meeting, consider whether taking the train is an option or whether you can meet virtually to eliminate the long-distance travel.
Throw away less food – By throwing away food, you’re wasting the resources and energy that were used to grow, produce, package and transport it. When foods rot in landfills, they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. To reduce this, use what you buy and compost any leftovers.
Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle – Almost everything we buy – from clothing to electronics – causes carbon emissions at each point in production, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to market. This is why it’s essential to reduce our ‘fast fashion’ intake by shopping second-hand, repairing what you can and recycling what you can’t.
Change your home’s energy sources – Making conscious energy choices in your home can also relate to what utility company you use. Ask whether your home’s energy comes from oil, gas or coal, and switch to renewable sources like wind or solar where possible. Installing solar panels on your roof is another great way to generate energy for your home. Switching to solar power can also reduce the price of certain bills – an extra win!
Switch to an electric vehicle – If you’re hunting for a new car, consider changing to an electric model. While they are often seen as expensive, more affordable options are coming onto the market. Whether they still run on electricity produced from fossil fuels, electric cars help reduce air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse emissions than gas or diesel-powered vehicles.
Choose eco-friendly products – Conscious consumerism is all about putting thought into what we’re spending our money on. Everything we buy affects the planet, but you have the power to choose the goods and services you support. Reducing your environmental impact can mean buying local, seasonal foods, and choosing products from companies that use resources responsibly and are committed to cutting their gas emissions and waste.
Speak up – One of the quickest and most effective ways to make a difference is by speaking up and getting others to join you in taking action. Whether it’s your neighbour, a colleague, friends or family, passing on the word to everyone can empower others. It’s time to appeal to local and world leaders to act now.
At Oraco, we’re doing our best to always choose sustainable options where we can, to reduce our environmental impact. This includes implementing environmentally-friendly appliances where available, practising good recycling habits, and using sustainable printing companies as much as possible.
With Earth Day fast approaching, it’s time to consider our impact on the environment and how our choices might affect our planet. Earth Day shouldn’t be one day a year – it should be every day. To learn more about how you can get involved, head to the official Earth Day website.