So, you heard the world is ending

Originally published on Nov. 6, 2018

You may have seen articles, memes or comments in the last month alluding to how we are all going to die in "10-12 years." This comes from a recent report published by the IPCC in the beginning of October. You can find the full report in detail here.

If you're not a scientist, like me, you can find their press release online. I used this resource as a summary to help me understand their findings. The report hinges largely on limiting global warming and the rapid increase of earth's surface temperature. According to current projections, if we were to do nothing differently and change nothing, we would see an increase of around 3ºC and this would be devastating to our ecosystems. We want to limit global warming to around 1.5ºC. 

"Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, farreaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday." 

We are already seeing the consequences of global warming through extreme and unexpected weather, rising sea levels and more. 

The report also reviews methods to limit global warming. It highlights what would be necessary to do these things and some consequences if we fail to change. In order to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, we would need to radically change how we do things. Countries like the United States and China need to embrace clean energy, for example. However, the consequences of not adapting are truly dire. If we see a 3ºC increase in a decade, we will see about 50% of our ecosystems die and as a result, people would die too. This sounds extreme, and scary! It is.

However, we are not hopeless.

“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

We have some time to prevent this environmental crisis. We can do things in our personal lives to help. We can also bring awareness to this issue, vote accordingly, lobby, and encourage our governments to embrace clean energy.

As individual people, our personal efforts matter very little. As a collective, though, together we can make a change. Don't let anyone tell you that your choices are meaningless. They are not! Especially now, every little bit helps. When dealing with a crisis in the terms of degrees, the smallest positive weight can help tip the scale. We can all contribute!

What can you do to help?

  • You can carpool, or use public transportation / bike or walk and use your car less

  • You can eat less meat. You don't have to give up eating all meat to just eat it less frequently. Give "meatless monday's" a go!

  • Use energy more consciously! Turn out your lights, etc.

  • You can eat real food and avoid food wrapped in plastic

  • Try eating for here at restaurants instead of taking food to-go, if you don't want to bring a reusable container around with you

  • Refuse single-use plastic. Decline shopping bags, straws, cups, plastic utensils, etc.

  • You can say "bye" to the bottle! Bring your own water bottle and don't accept plastic water bottles / other drinks in plastic. If you love soda, you can find soda's in glass. If you enjoy rewarding yourself with a cold drink after a work out, or a hard day, try Kombucha! There are many kombucha's in glass bottles.

  • Cook more! If you hate cooking, try getting together with a friend and making a night out of it.

  • Shop more frequently for less food.

  • Buy secondhand and try to mend, reuse or trade/borrow instead of immediately buying new

  • Avoid synthetic products like nylon, organza, faux leather, faux fur, polyester, elastane, polyamide, nylon, viscose, spandex and lycra. Buy natural products instead like: silk, organic cotton, wool and linen. If you're vegan for ethical reasons, maybe consider buying wool secondhand, or not at all based on your convictions.

  • Try shopping differently: gravitate away from plastic and toward loose foods (bulk sections!!), cardboard packaged and glass packaged-items.

  • If you want to buy meat, see if a local butcher in town will let you use your own containers instead of plastic wrap. Most Whole Food's will allow this!

The world may seem like it's ending but we're not dead yet. If you're like me,  you would rather go down fighting. I "fight" by living a waste-conscious life, eating vegan, talking about this, sharing my tips and writing letters to my local government! I am trying to find new ways to advocate more for the environment all the time.

We can do this, if we work together! 

Emily McCollister