If we don’t act, now might be the height of humanity. 42 things to save the world.
Our future, as we imagined it
Being naive as a kid, I imagined a glorious future. Flying cars, cooperating civilizations on different planets, and everlasting peace. A bit like Star Wars, but without the wars. Now, a bit less naive, I imagine our future to be not that glorious. If it exists at all.1 Climate change is drastically endangering our habitat.
This chart lists countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita. 2 The countries on the left use more CO2 per person than the ones on the right. Quite clear leaders here. Countries with a US-like culture like Canada, Australia, NZ, and the US itself are using way more CO2 per person than e.g. Germany, China, or other European countries. And to make this difference even clearer: an American uses 50 times more CO2 than a person in Uganda. But, for sure, the Ugandan has access to probably 50x fewer conveniences. Still, everyone living in a country with a CO2 emission/capita higher than the average should be awakened. Every person is part of this problem. You as well. If you like it or not. The populations of animals fell by 68% between 1970-2016 (average of more than 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish). 3 Coral reefs are dying. The Great Barrier Reef is considered dead. 4 All due to the change of land and sea use, exploitation of animals (overfishing…), climate change, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. 5 Yep, and also because of you (and me).
Why the fuck did we not act earlier?!
For me, as a mid-twenty year old with a lot of education and no experience, it seems that humans just does not want to learn from facts endangering our worldview or are complicated. Climate Change was well understood years ago by scientists. 6 But not even now there is enough action taken to stop it. Politicians with no backbones decide egoistically, driven by power and selfishness (Trump, Bolsonaro…). Against the trend of a worldwide increase of democratization (1974-2005), the political landscape now faces a democratic recession. The average levels of freedom are declining globally and in most parts of the world. Mostly by the incremental takedown of democracy by populistic politicians who gradually remove political opposition, independent media, and other forces of scrutiny and resistance in civil society. 7 Countries producing more CO2 per capita blame the problems from climate change and its origin on others instead of acting itself. 8 Big companies act like idiots and stop to innovate but instead deceive and sell their climate-unfriendly products for maximum profit. 9 The oil industry is actively misleading the public about the recycling of plastic. (Most trash was shipped to China and then dumped into the oceans.) 10 The game of deceiving the public regarding the environmental impact as well as humanitarian impact is played by all big companies. I guess greed drives intelligent people to do stupid things. And, to make it worse, naive people (that means >90% of us) trust influential people who tell bullshit without questioning it. Further, we just do not like change. Even now in the COVID-19 pandemic we just want to get back to “normal”. Normal…? Is it normal to ignore our problems? Is it normal to exploit people in other countries just to hold our standards of living? Is it normal for regular people to actively look away from crimes against humanity in other countries? Is it normal to act on one of the most pressing problems (climate change) half-assed? Fuck normality. If we go back to this normality we are all fucked.
Now a lot of dystopian ideas seem to be not dystopian at all. In the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”11, animals are so rare that having a real, living pet is one of the highest status symbols. Other people need to be satisfied with a robotic animal, which is a bit cheaper. I think that is very well a realistic future.
All the problems listed here are big, and I also don’t have solutions for most. However, I am sure, if we do not manage to solve them, we are fucked. Overall the situation looks quite depressing. To tackle that, it helps to be positive pesimistic. Meaning if we don’t act now, we will certainly be fucked. But, if we act, we can still tackle the problem.
Do something about it!
Don’t think you can not do anything. You can influence the direction where we are heading by a great margin. If everyone would switch to a renewable electric provider. If everyone would eat less beef (all cattle together are emitting about the same amount of CO2 as the US 12). If everyone would travel more locally. If everyone would buy less stuff they actually don’t need… This would have a drastic impact. Doing this is also not really hard. Your friends might look at you a bit irritated if you start to actually act to save the climate. But let me tell you. Not acting is an act of irrational self dislution. The mean of C02 usage needs to go down. And you should begin. We all need you to join. Also, don’t forget to use your right to vote (if you can vote) to vote for people who see this problem and are not afraid to act. Don’t vote for traditionalists. Don’t vote for populists. Vote for futurists.
To see how bad you are, please take a questionnaire to estimate your CO2 footprint.
42 Actionable Things to Save The World!
- Use your bike more
- Explore your local area instead of taking a trip far away
- Plan a train trip to a city instead of flying (overnight trains are best)
- Car-pool or car-share
- Throw your trash in trashcans, not on the ground
- Inflate your tires to the right pressure (higher )
- Switch to a 100% renewable energy contract
- Switch to LED lighting
- Turn stuff you don’t use off (e.g. your pc overnight)
- Set your air conditioner to a higher standard temperature
- Set your heater to a lower standard temperature
- Recycle your waste
- Buy blooming, local flowers/plants for bees and insects
- Provide water in your garden for animals (especially if you are living in a city)
- Buy a solar panel for your house
- Cold-Wash your laundry if possible
- Use environmentally friendly washing powder
- Hang-dry your clothes
- Buy power/water-efficient products
- Take shorter and colder showers
- Eat fewer products of large animals (~the larger the more Co2 per food)
- Eat less/no beef
- Switch to dairy alternatives (e.g. soymilk)
- Eat less/no animal products
- Be vegetarian
- Be vegan
- Buy local stuff on your farmers market
- Buy unpacked food over plastic wrapped items
- Cook more at home, visit fewer restaurants (less food waste)
- Throw away less food by refrigerating things you might not eat
- Before buying, research if an environmentally-friendly alternative exists (e.g. clothing)
- Before buying a new thing, think hard if you really need it
- You don’t need the newest phone, wait for the next model (In fact my 5year old iPhone6s still works great)
- Don’t buy junk that will just land in the trash (e.g. cheap toys)
- Buy recycled products (e.g. paper)
- Buy from environmentally conscious companies
- Challenge your friends on these ideas
- Challenge your city leaders
- Donate to a charity/non-profit that fights climate change and environmental destruction
- Don’t smoke
- Offset your emissions (e.g. by planting trees)
- Join an environmentalist club/party
- Share this post to make your friends aware
I hope you took something away from this post. And don’t be afraid, just start one step at a time. That is all we need to do.
The great filter might be climate change. And even if there is a future ahead it will be certainly with the wars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjtOGPJ0URM ↩
Decline of species and animal numbers https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54091048, https://livingplanet.panda.org/en-us/ ↩
Explanations on Coral Bleaching https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/57ep0q/eli5_how_the_great_barrier_reef_is_now_considered/d8rf5sc/ ↩
Amazon affiliate link ↩