Lancaster’s recent floods are a timely reminder of the impacts that a changing climate will bring. Similar extreme weather events are expected to become more common place in a warming world, especially if we don’t drastically start cutting our greenhouse gas emissions now.
The urgency needed to reduce our climate impact can feel overwhelming and the slow response of governments can make this even more so. The recent climate talks in Paris have been hailed as a success by the mainstream press even though a preferred process for reducing emissions was not discussed, resulting in a number of huge topics being ignored.
Topics that were missed from the Paris climate talks included a discussion about the impacts of our industrialised food system. The carbon emissions associated with meat consumption, palm oil production and other industries that lead to mass deforestation were not explored for example.
So what can we do?
I was part of a group that cycled to Paris to participate in demonstrations and talks that happened outside of the climate talks. I did not cycle to Paris through the wind and rain because I thought I would make a difference to the conference outcomes. I went to learn, to get new ideas, to meet new people and to join a growing movement of individuals that want to create a livable earth for future generations.
The cycle ride and the many conversations had along the way highlighted the need to take matters into our own hands. If we want to create a world where clean energy, water and healthy food is available to all we need to start creating that world today, one step at a time.
Many groups in Lancaster are already starting to take matters into their own hands. The People’s Café in Lancaster makes healthy meals out of ‘waste food’. LESS supports people to grow their own food and reduce their energy bills. Claver Hill has planted hundreds of trees and uses a ‘no-dig’ method to grow food which is then shared amongst ‘spud club members’. Lancaster Climate Action hosts regular vegan pot luck events. And numerous local businesses (such as Single Step, the Whale Tail Café, Growing with Nature and Filberts) offer more ‘sustainable’ choices.
However, there is always more that can be done.
If we all were to reduce our intake of meat, if we all try to use more seasonal fruit and vegetables and if we all reduce the amount of non-organic produce we consume we would, together, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
To read more about the climate talks visit New Internationalist’s website.