Climate change is one of the most important ecological imperatives facing the human population in our modern times. There is hardly any debate remaining among scientists these days regarding whether climate change exists or whether it is caused by human activities. Climate change threatens not just global average temperature, but it also can play a damaging role in all other aspects of ecosystem health, such as biological diversity and world food supply. We have identified the problem, now we must come up with a fair and sustainable solution.
This blog will focus around the United Nations climate change conference to be help in Copenhagen from December 7th to 18th 2009. During this conference, 192 countries including two of the largest polluters - the United States and China - will gather to discuss the problem and try to find solutions. These widely varied countries will be responsible for the onus task of hammering out an agreement that can satisfy all involved for the period following 2012.
The countdown to COP15 TIG blog aims to consolidate the many youth climate action blogs from around the world, while offering a forum for youth to get informed and get involved regarding this important issue.
Do you need a bag for that? We hope your answer will be No
Pop quiz! What do all of the following images have in common?
If you guessed they are all forms of pollution caused by plastic bags – then you are correct!
Plastic bags are polluting the ocean
There is an area in the ocean, called the North Pacific Subtropical gyre, where natural oceanic currents cause a large region of water to constantly circulate clockwise. Winds here are light, and there are few islands to get in the way of the current. The result of this is that oceanic debris tends to get sucked into this “trash vortex”. According to Greenpeace, in this region the size of Texas, plastic bags out number plankton 6 to 1.
Plastic bags are harming wildlife
We are all familiar that plastic bags and other plastic waste can get tangled around birds, fish, turtles or other animals and seriously harm their health and even cause their death. But did you know that plastic is even entering the food chain? Plastic bags take hundreds, even thousands of years to degrade. As they are exposed to the elements they simply break down into smaller and smaller particles that are then ingested by fish and birds. The plastic stays inside their bodies, until a bigger fish eats the fish, and a bigger fish eats that fish, and then finally humans catch and eat the fish – ingesting plastic as well as the fish. The following short video examines this problem:
Plastic bags are filling our landfills
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags. Also, Australians alone consume about 6.9 billion plastic bags each year, that's 326 per person. According to Australia's Department of Environment, an estimated 49,600,000 annually end up as litter. Unfortunately, world wide, only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled, which means that the rest are ending up in landfills and in the oceans.
The GOOD news!
Luckily, saying NO to plastic bags is one of the simplest steps you can take to reduce your overall environmental impact. These days, practically every large grocery retailer offers reusable shopping bags. Many shops have now caught on to the fact that reusable cloth bags are stylish, and you can now find them in many different styles. Or better yet – make your own! tipnut.com offers link to 35 different online tutorials that will teach you how to easily make your own, fashionable reusable shopping bag. Save the earth, AND make a fashion statement. Now that IS good news!
An easy way to lower your carbon footprint: Eat Less Meat!
All over the world, the vegetarian diet has been gaining momentum and popularity. People decide to become vegetarians for many different reasons: for example, animal rights, economics, or even just preference. But did you know that vegetarianism is also “green”? Meat production is actually such a massive burden to the environment that you do not have to even become a full vegetarian to make a positive impact on the environment. Even eating one less meat meal per week will lower your carbon footprint!
According to a 2006 United Nations initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contributes on a "massive scale" to deforestation, air and water pollution, land degradation, loss of topsoil, climate change, the overuse of resources including oil and water, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
But what does that all mean?
Well, in order to produce one kilogram of beef, you need to input 10 kilos of grain (which could otherwise feed people) and 100 000 litres of clean fresh water! Let’s compare that with chicken. To produce one kilogram of chicken, you would need to input 3 kilos of grain and 3500 litres of water. That’s 63% less food and water! According to the “Rough Guide to Ethical Living”, animal production in responsible for up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the fact that oil is used to produce fertilizers for crops, produce and power farm machinery, and ship the animals from the farm to slaughter, and then to your dinner table.
Also, did you know that cattle ranching is one of the top reasons for rainforest deforestation?
YOU can make a difference, starting the next time you sit down at the table
Did you know that producing a kilo of beef can emit as much CO2 as the average car driven about 160 miles!! And the average American consumes 0.25 kilos of meat per day, which equals 90 kilos of meat per year! By having one vegetarian day per week, you would save the carbon emissions equal to driving your car for 2 080 miles! On top of that, doctors tell us that in order to get enough protein we only need to eat 0.25 kilos of meet (or other protein rich foods likes legumes) per week. But the average American eats that much per day!
As you can see, eating less meat is truly a quick and simple way to reduce your carbon impact on planet Earth. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it’s also healthy! Websites and cookbooks abound with delicious, healthy and easy meat-less recipes, to make all your meat-free meals a great experience.
Make a commitment to eat less meat!
Whether you want to become a vegan, a vegetarian, or simply eat one meat free meal per week – the Earth will thank you. Commit to this action now!
Age of Stupid: Global Premier Seen in over 50 Countries
The Age of Stupid, a new film/documentary from director Franny Armstrong and producer John Battsek deals with the important issue of climate change. Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?
The film which is currently receiving rave reviews was premiered on the 21st and 22nd of September at the Climate Week in New York City, where over 100 global leaders are meeting to discuss how to effectively deal with climate change. The premier was broadcast by satellite link to over 50 countries world wide, and was endorsed by many A list celebrities such as Radiohead's Thom York and Moby.
In complete eco-friendly style, the New York event was powered by the sun, while the sound system was powered by peddle power. Celebrities arrived in a wide variety of environmentally conscious vehicles; from pedal cars, to row boats. From there they walked the "green" carpet, made from recycled bottles, and munched on all locally and organic grown food.
Scientists also provided additional commentary after the film, from NYC and even via satellite connection from Himalayan mountain passes. Politicians were also among some of the post film speakers. The president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, announced his commitment to make the Indian Ocean island nation the world's first carbon neutral country in just ten years' time, by 2019.
"Climate change isn't a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all," he added.
President Mohamed Nasheed accepts the "not stupid" award
The film encourages us all to act now to stop run away climate change. Linked to the film, the website notstupid is a campaign also spearheaded by Franny Armstrong. The website aims to further climate change education and activism. Featured on the website, in another initiative by Franny, the 10:10 campaign which urges people to cut their emissions by 10% in 2010. The campaign which originally began in the UK, is now about to go global.
To learn more, see the traitors and interviews, or even to organise your own screening, visit the film's official website.
This week, New York City will host the week long climate week NYC event. Hundreds of government and business leaders will join in New York City to discuss the topic of climate change.
Climate Week NY°C is a partnership between The Climate Group, the United Nations, the UN Foundation, the City of New York, the Government of Denmark, Tck Tck Tck Campaign and Carbon Disclosure Project.
"With more than 100 heads of state expected to attend, it will be the largest-ever gathering of heads of state focused exclusively on climate change. Coming less than 80 days prior to Copenhagen, this summit must address the major sticking points in the current international negotiations." according to the Tck Tck Tck website, one of the organizing partners.
A program of over 50 events will begin on September 21st and continue until Friday September 25th. Although many of the events are by invitation only, there are still many which are open to the public.
September 21st 2009 is the day chosen by avaaz.org for their global day of action. "Avaaz" which means "voice" in many asian, middle eastern, and eastern european languages is a new online initiative "with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want."
Their most recent initiative is the September 21st global wake up call. The aim is to organize people in different communities all over the world to pressure leaders to take action on climate change.
"The events will be self-organising and follow a simple formula, lasting only about five minutes: it'll be simple for everyone. Avaaz and partners will help turn out a group of fellow-citizens to participate in each event, and we’ll send you all the information you need."
To search for events in your community, or to register your own event, visit www.avaaz.org