People hold up signage at a global climate change strike. 09-20-2019. Photo: Markus Spiske.
With 19 of the 20 warmest years on record all occurring since 2001, earth is now the warmest it has been in more than 120,000 years. Calls for action on climate change have often fallen on stony ground for almost 20 years, but now the situation looks increasingly critical.
The plans set to make a third runway in Heathrow airport were ruled illegal by the court of appeals, in attempt to achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2050 set by the British Government. Such is the escalating nature of climate change.
It’s good to know that many scientists are practicing what they preach and implementing their lessons at home.
Measures to Help Reduce Carbon Footprint
So, which of these measures can be adopted to help reduce our carbon footprint?
Forget About Planes
One of the highest contributors to carbon in the atmosphere is air traffic, with a one hour 20 minutes return flight emitting 0.24 tonnes of carbon. Experts have said travellers should restrict themselves to just one short haul flight every two to three years.
Taking the Eurostar to the continent or travelling via car-ferry-car journey are advised alternative forms of travel. The argument for travelling by plane collapses when the same trip by car and boat would produce 0.08 tonnes of carbon — less than a third of the emissions produced by a plane for the same journey.
Newcastle to Belfast Round Trip: Car-Ferry-Car vs Plane
Mode of Transport
Emissions per km/hr
120g per km
88,080g (0.08 tonnes)
1hr 20 mins
90g per hour
240,000g (0.24 tonnes)
Many experts are taking a stand as the stats stack up. Professor Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh is setting the best example for his children. He gave up flying in 2004 and has opted for the staycation, taking his family on trips around the British Isles instead of jet setting to the other side of the world.
Providing that not choosing to fly doesn’t affect the places you visit; they even took the ferry to Amsterdam.
Going Off the Grid
From switching your heating on at home without actually having to be in the house, to ordering clothes online, technology is making everything more convenient for consumers.
Opting for an off grid gas energy supply can strip back the factors that contribute to a rising carbon footprint e.g. switching oil heating for the more environmentally friendly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). LPG produces less carbon emissions when burned and can also be used for domestic tasks, including fuelling an oven, as well as your boiler.
Change is easily made if we really try hard for it to be. Take a leaf out of Dr Alison Green’s book. The national director at Scientists Warning has opted to put her house on the market to downsize her carbon footprint. She plans to grow her own food, insert solar panels to source electric, and make a commitment to running an eco-friendly house.
A Plastic Free Life
Almost eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year and it is now considered one of the biggest concerns around climate change. This consequently destroys the environment, as well as the animal and plant life to which they play home.
Since July 2011, more than 250 million people have engaged with the idea of going plastic free in order to help clean up the oceans and streets, and there is plenty more you could be doing at home too. Carbon specialist Siobhán Pereira chose to go plastic-free in her bathroom and is encouraging others to do the same. Switch your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo or biodegradable alternative for starters, as well as choosing an eco-friendly soap.
When advising people of her lifestyle change, Pereira said: “We’ve got so used to going into the supermarket, putting something into our baskets and coming home, but we haven’t considered what happens at the end of its life.” Supermarkets are working to reduce plastics in the fruit and veg aisle but with higher costs associated with eco choices, are we being priced out of saving the earth?
Various climate scientists are leading from the front to demonstrate personal changes that can be made to help save our planet. Governments are finally starting to wake up to climate change, but until collectively the general population are sold on the idea… we may still be having the same conversations in years to come.