The climate today is in critical condition. We ask ourselves how soon will we see the effects of climate change and when will they take place? Today, we already see the consequences that the Earth has to face due to the change in our climate’s temperature. We see patterns that are caused by human activity: the extinction of certain animals, deforestation, environmental damage caused by animal agriculture and the fashion industry. Large corporations have failed us, citizens of the world, as we face a climate emergency.
Storm Viola, the winter storm faced by Texans, is an unprecedented event. The extremities that the people of Texas have to encounter are unimaginable. This particular storm resulted in millions of people without electricity and facing very low temperatures and frozen infrastructure as icy road and rail routes became impassable.
California faced its worst case of forest fires in 2020. The fires resulted in 4 million acres of land burned by wildfires, leading to thousands of people fleeing their homes. It has been reported that wildfires have become worse because of climate change and a reduction in controlled burns in recent years.
Source: CBA News
The contrast between images of the Californian wildfires and the Texas snow storm viewed side by side is striking, considering how close in time they are and also their historical extremity. Wildfires and snowstorms have happened before to be sure, but not at this magnitude.
- Swapping dairy milk for plant-based alternatives: what are the benefits?
- The shocking environmental truth of commercial holidays
What are the main contributors to Climate Change?
As consumers, it is important to think of our spending power as a way of voting: for what we want to see on the shelves; what we want more of, and to let corporations see what we consumers are not interested in.
Animal agriculture and so-called fast fashion are both detrimental to our Earth’s climate. However, they are also a means for us as consumers to communicate what we think. Many people say to themselves “I am only one person, I cannot make a change.” However, collective action is powerful: we can vote with our money to say that we do not want these corporations to release mass amounts of CO2 and strip our Earth of its natural resources till there is nothing left.
Swapping and keeping clothes in rotation is essential at this point. This means it’s critical to shop sustainably and second hand. The world is now producing 80 billion new items of clothing per year, representing a 400% increase from clothing production 20 years ago. The fast-fashion business has accelerated to the detriment of the climate. The more clothes being produced, the higher chance of textile waste. Meanwhile, fashions are constantly changing and clothes are designed to be disposable, meaning you always have to buy more.
The Acceleration of Climate Change
We are seeing different effects in different regions: wildfires are becoming more extreme and record-breaking, ice-caps are melting at an accelerating rate. Human exploitation of the Earth is treacherously destroying our resources and putting the human race and our ecosystem in a dangerous position.
It is essential to acknowledge the stake of future generations in this matter. What might not be affecting us right now will undoubtedly affect future generations negatively and harmfully. If critical action is not taken now, the Earth will become uninhabitable.
Predictions of climate change state that there is a more than likely chance that we will see an increase in temperature of 3 degrees by 2100. Professionals say that humans will have to start adapting to the increase in the Earth’s temperature, which means that there is a high risk that cutting carbon emissions is not enough at this stage.
The Paris Agreement aims to manage climate change. Recently, President Joe Biden re-entered the Paris Agreement, originally signed off by former President Donald Trump on 20 June 2017. The Paris Agreement obliges participating countries to work out ways of tackling climate change, evaluating the situation every five years. This international agreement is crucial for international collective action, studying long term effects, and setting goals for the future.
As we have already experienced a 1.2 degree increase, we are a lot closer to the expected 1.5-2 degree increase that was estimated for 2030. When we put excessive textile production and animal agriculture into perspective, there’s no doubt that the Earth’s temperature is rising at an alarming rate. As mentioned above, we as consumers have the power to let corporations know what we want. This is why it is so significant to choose carefully who we fund with our coin. There is a great increase in people choosing plant-based diets as they become more aware and educated about the detrimental effects of animal agriculture.
As inhabitants of this planet, we have a right to question many things as we become more concerned about our Earth’s state. Corporations and wealth hoarders have many questions to answer as there is a lot of power in their hands. Bill Gates, supporter of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, is a well known advocate for tackling climate change. However, there are some question marks over his engagement with the problem.
On the one hand, Gates supports meat-free companies, but on the other, Gates still does not want the livestock industry to come to an end. This a confusing position, since animal agriculture contributes 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions, more than what cars produce. Animal agriculture is notorious for its wastefulness, overproduction, and overbreeding.
In essence, we as individual consumers need to acknowledge our responsibility to monitor the policies of the animal agriculture industry and its dedication to the planet, and to choose sustainably as much as we can. Plant-based options can reduce the demand for animal agriculture and a new ethic of recycling and reuse can moderate how much we buy, encouraging us to take care of the items we already own. Educating ourselves as much as we can is more crucial than ever. It’s time for a change in the system, not the climate.