Debbie Gibbs: Remember ‘think global, act local?’
Our actions in the upcoming 10 years will likely form the basis for our quality of life for decades to follow. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report was recently released. The world, the report estimates, can release another 500 billion tons of CO2 before we crash through that ceiling. In 1990 we were putting about 35 billion tons of CO2 a year into the atmosphere, while today we’re pumping out over 50 billion tons a year and rising.
The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said this moment represents “a code red for humanity” and added, “There is no time for delay and no room for excuses.”
We must avoid using fossil fuels, now, in any form: gasoline, plastic packaging, clothes driers, etc. We should use our fossil fuel, ideally, to construct our future renewable energy infrastructure. Those leaders and businesses with this vision deserve support. The perplexing question for many is “how does one person make a difference?”
I was moved by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, who is regarded as one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels. In a recent article, “The Only Long-Range Solution to Climate Change,” he stated: “Power is the key to solving climate change — but not necessarily in the way that many pundits claim. Solutions will not come just from defeating fossil fuel interests and empowering green entrepreneurs; real climate progress will require the willingness of large swathes of the populace, especially in wealthy countries, to forgo forms of power they currently enjoy: comfort and convenience, the ability to travel far and fast, and the option to easily obtain a wide range of consumer products whose manufacture entails large inputs of energy and natural resources. This is not a feel-good message, but the longer we postpone grappling with power in this larger sense, the less successful we’re likely to be in coming to terms with the climate threat.”
Heinberg’s view would encourage lifestyles that reduce fossil fuel use and conserve the Earth’s remaining resources. Collectively we can all make a difference. Beyond electric cars and solar panels, which many cannot afford, here are some everyday examples we might apply:
Consider the environment with each purchase and action. Foremost, single-use plastic is a plague composed of fossil fuel. It’s toxic and its destruction to living beings is appalling and exploding. Reuse shopping bags, store food in recycled glass containers, etc.
Much clothing also relies on fossil fuel, and the manufacturing is one of the worst sources of pollution and emissions. The gadgets we buy use raw materials that are from mines, which are cruel to the Earth. If you oppose the Rise Gold mine in our county, imagine that mining devastation repeated in thousands of other communities.
Create habitat on or around your home. Think about your home as a refuge for you and for other species. Humans need other species for our survival. Plant local purchased natives that feed local wildlife.
If we all provide habitat instead of a lawn, we might save some endangered species. Federal officials just announced the extinction of 22 animals and the worsening global biodiversity crisis threatens a million species with extinction, many within decades. Human activities like farming, logging, mining and damming take habitat from animals and pollute much of what’s left.
Buy food from local producers. Local is usually fresher, with less transport and packaging, and supports our small local agriculture community. Conventional food system emissions (from field to plate) have a huge carbon footprint. Local, regenerative agriculture can sequester carbon, conserve water and foster humane livestock practices. Local food is an investment for personal and environmental health.
In perspective, many of today’s luxuries were rare just 70 years ago, and don’t exist for many populations in the world today. The developed world appears to be dependent on an economy now destroying our only earthly home.
If we believe a technological change may rescue us, please see if you can recall a technological practice employed in the last 100 years that has improved the Earth. We can hope for a moonshot that allows continuation of life with no limitations. But that’s a gamble.
Common sense tells me a “Plan B economy” is in order, as we have no Planet B.
Jay Inslee, Washington governor, says “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”
So, use your local power, and move us toward a better global future.
Debbie Gibbs lives in Nevada City.
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Since it was brought to light in its recent form as critical race theory, the teaching of a balanced, thoughtful and honest approach to our nation’s history has been overly politicized and wrongly messaged.