How Tackling Climate Change Is Not a Burden at All

Bharat Dogra

It is a very common tendency to present climate change as the most burdensome task. In fact, to a large extent tackling climate change effectively merely means implementing a lot of changes which are anyway needed even if climate change did not exist. There is nothing impossible about these changes, it is only a question of human will, wisdom, creativity and right priorities.

*If we can create the conditions for avoiding all future wars and everyone feels assured about it then weapon production and military activity can be reduced by 90 per cent. Find out what this means in terms of reducing fossil fuels.

* Reducing violence and crime is anyway a highly desirable objective. If we can achieve a 70 per cent reduction in crime and violence, then calculate reduction of fossil fuels in terms of huge reduction in production and sale of small arms and ammunition and all the movements and activities of criminals and police.

* About several goods and services there is consensus that these are harmful for physical and mental health (or harmful in other ways). The most obvious examples are tobacco and alcohol, but in addition there are a wide range of other very hazardous products. To protect health, it is very important to reduce their production, consumption and exposure. If an 80 per cent reduction can be achieved, find out its implications in terms of reduction in fossil fuels.

*Apart from completely harmful goods there are also many more goods and services which are useful or may be useful in a limited way but at present are being overused to a massive extent, harming health and increasing problems of waste management. If a reduction to the extent of 20 to 50 per cent in these goods and services can be achieved, depending on the product in question, then this will improve health and reduce waste generation in a significant way, but in addition also contribute in a big way to reducing fossil fuels.

* There are some high-luxury goods and services, such as private jets, which are used only by the top 2 per cent of the world population but contribute a lot to pollution and waste, incidentally also more specifically to GHG emissions. If this production and consumption can be stopped entirely, this can contribute much to checking climate change.

* To produce safe food and maintain soil health it is in any case necessary to shift to organic cultivation and give up GM technology altogether. Incidentally this will also contribute in a big way to climate change mitigation and adaption.

* To protect and provide sustainable livelihoods to some of the most vulnerable people and communities it is anyway necessary to protect natural forests and regenerate forests on degraded lands along the patterns of natural forests. Millions of such efforts are needed. Along the way of providing sustainable livelihoods these millions of small efforts will also help to check climate change in a big way.

*To reduce road congestion, traffic jams, parking problems and above all air pollution it is necessary to reduce private cars and improve public transport. This will also save massive amounts of fossil fuels.

*In many remote areas not yet covered by commercial energy it is anyway more convenient and useful and less expensive to rely on decentralized renewable energy systems and also to experiment for more self-reliant and healthy ways of meeting daily needs including food.

*If only we care to listen, simple farmers and artisans in villages have many ideas which will help their sustainable livelihoods but in addition will also be very useful in terms of climate change mitigation and adaption.

*To improve community life, it is anyway important to have more open and airy housing settlements which share many common places including public kitchens and need less air-conditioning. This also helps to reduce fossil fuels.

*To improve opportunities of more creative and satisfactory professional work as well as to save time, it may be desirable to explore more opportunities of working from home. This also contributes to reducing climate change.

  This list can keep getting longer. What should be clear is that quite often what we need to curb climate change is only what we need anyway to reduce other serious problems. Of course, there are also other very specific climate change actions which are needed, but even if we merely fulfill a lot of other essential, long-delayed responsibilities in diverse areas, a great contribution to checking climate change would also be made. In this sense climate change is also a wakeup call to remind us of the need to forget all our petty differences and establish a broad unity to participate together in highly creative ways which basically involve a justice-based approach to protecting environment and health.

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.   

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.     

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Sep 21, 2019

Bharat Dogra [email protected]

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