The time is now - 18 months to save the planet
PUBLISHED: 19:30 08 August 2019 | UPDATED: 19:30 08 August 2019
Archant Norfolk 2016
Norfolk-based wellbeing consultant Sue Bayliss says we need to act sooner or later if we want to save our planet
It seems that we have no more than 18 months to turn things around on carbon emissions. According to BBC News, "Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030."
Prince Charles recently spoke at a reception for foreign ministers and said: "I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival."
Meanwhile Boris Johnson is promising over £2 billion to help us prepare for a no deal Brexit. How many green jobs could that money fund, how many incentives for businesses to reduce their emissions, how many vital services could be provided? How many families could be helped out of poverty?
A new mythology is needed.
Our collective response to the dangers of climate change and extinction of life on this planet is one of denial. Listen to an alcoholic who assures us that he won't be having another drink or is safe to drive. We, as a culture in the west, seem to be addicted to all that the use of fossil fuels facilitates for our lifestyles. Our current ways do not create happiness. There is ample evidence that we are dealing with an epidemic of depression and anxiety, particularly among young people.
Charles Eisenstein, in his book, Climate, A New Story, argues for a new mythology to guide our lives. He believes that unmet needs for connection, community and meaning are driving our pursuit of growth and our reckless consumption.
He writes: "When we restore the internal ecosystem, the fullness of our capacity to feel and love, only then will there be hope of restoring the outer.
"We can either feel separate to all that surrounds us and that we depend on, or we can feel our deep connection to all life. Feeling connected to life is not a new story as all indigenous cultures know.
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Eisenstein continues: "The source of our myopia is clear. It is love benumbed. We do not see that what we devalue and destroy is part of ourselves. We do not see that we are not conditionally dependent on the oceans, the rainforests, and every living system on Earth for survival; that something more important than survival is at stake. It is our humanity. It is our full beingness. Love benumbed, we believe that we can inflict damage without suffering it ourselves."
The good news!
So let us wake up out of our addictive trance and help to turn the tide on our destructive ways. There is good news. Sainsbury's is looking to provide paper bags rather than plastic for loose fruit and veg. The Holiday Inn hotel chain - the very one I wrote about last time - is removing those unnecessary little plastic bottles of toiletries we used to expect as perks and is about to tackle plastic cups in their breakfast service. Hurrah! The more we, as their customers, raise these issues, the faster change will come. Let's keep up the pressure.
On the subject of veg, I'd like to make readers aware of the fruit and veg stall on the Norwich's market (Row A, Stalls 30/31) run by Robert Folland. Fresh, tasty organic vegetables are on offer with paper bags or reused bags to cut down on packaging. When I popped in on Saturday, it was the last day to see the vegetables paired with organic and biodynamic wines sold by Substrata, a new venture started by Tom and Ben Loudon: www.substratawines.com. You can enjoy their wines at the Greenhouse, 42 - 46 Bethel Street, Norwich NR2 1NR tonight, Friday August 9. The wine tasting runs from 6pm - 8pm. If we need to drown our sorrows and gain some relief from climate change doom and gloom, not to mention Brexit gloom (and doom?) we might as well indulge in sulphite-free organic wines and feel virtuous.
While visiting Norwich market, why not look in at the next door stall, No.29, which sells palm oil free soaps and shampoos (in bars, not plastic bottles), bamboo toothbrushes and natural deodorants.
I also bought portable coffee cups for my son and daughter in law at the Rainbow Wholefoods Shop in Labour in Vain Yard, Guildhall Hill, NR2 1EL. My grandchildren, now more aware of the value of organic food and the importance of reusable coffee cups, proudly presented the gifts to mum and dad who were delighted. Why not buy yourself and your loved ones a reusable coffee cup or water bottle?
There is no 'away' as in throw away!
The average adult in London buys more than three single use plastic water bottles per week. Altogether 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year. And if you believe most of this is recycled, you are mistaken. Since 2012 more than 2.7 millions tons of plastic waste have been shipped to China and Hong Kong. In 2018 when China stopped taking foreign waste, the plastic and other rubbish was sent to Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand where much of it ends up in the oceans. There is so much plastic now in our oceans that an island of garbage twice the size of Texas swirls around in the Pacific Ocean. More than 100,000 marine animals die each year from plastic entanglement and ingestion. This does not have to happen. What if we all considered the birds and marine animals we enjoyed watching on Blue Planet and the effects on them of what we throw out after one use? Drinking from the plastic bottles on sale rather than reusable drinking bottles may not be good for your health. In hot temperatures it seems that chemicals may leach out of the bottle and into its contents. So get yourself a stainless steel water bottle that keeps the contents cool and a reusable coffee cup and you will drastically cut your single use plastic consumption. Then persuade others to do the same. Make your office or staff room and home free of single use plastic and send me an email to let me know and encourage others.
More good news! Helen McGrath (whose project I featured in my last column) has succeeded in hitting her Crowdfunding target to build an eco cabin out of recycled materials as part of her eco glamping project offering a tranquil getaway for couples. Thanks to anyone who has helped her by contributing.
If you have an eco project or idea, please get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.