We’ve had a week of debate about climate change and absolute agreement that “something must be done”. So what can be done? Well, here’s my list, off the top of my head, based on what I know from the debate and from being involved in this for a long time, and for a job:
Firstly, if you believe that something needs to be done, then tell politicians that you want something done and vote for politicians that will. A carbon tax would be a very useful thing, for many reasons, but we’ve dropped plans for it because the government doesn’t have the votes for it. This is a democracy, and that’s how it works.
Secondly, how do we change people’s behaviour? We can argue that the future is so frightening that we need to start fixing the problem right now. Basically, it’s a problem we must solve. Or we can argue that there’s plenty of win-win actions to take right now, to get change going and convince people that it’s a problem we can solve.
Right here and now, I’m plumping for the later. I don’t care if you don’t think something should be done, or you don’t care or you’ve got the social conscience of a dog caught short on a croquet lawn. All I care about is changing people’s behaviour, not their beliefs. Behaviour causes emissions; beliefs don’t. So then here’s a list of things that you can do, right now, to make a difference to yourself. Even if you think, “bollocks to the planet, load of tree-hugging hippy crap”, you’ll still benefit from doing these things.
So, in rough order of what matters the most, six areas and things you can do, trivial and not so trivial:
- How far you travel
- How you travel
- How you heat or cool your house
- What you eat
- What you buy
- How you spent your time
|1) How far you travel|
|The further you travel, the more the emissions, no matter how you get there. So find ways to have fun/make money close to home. And yes, I know half the people reading this are flying to Burning Man, so I recommend going less often, staying away for longer, having more fun out of each trip, thus less travel for a given amount of fun.||Saves you money on travel costs, saves you time travelling|
|2) How you travel|
|Smaller cars – Smaller, less weight, less fuel. Chose your car to match most of your travelling, not the once a year moving a sofa. Be ready to hire something big for those odd trips.||Saves you money, easier to park, and when climate change kicks in/oil prices go up, your car will still have second-hand value.|
|More efficient cars – Modern engines, hybrids, lighter cars, less fuel per mile.||Saves you money in the long run, in reliability and less fuel cost per mile. When climate change kicks in/oil prices go up, your car will still have second-hand value. Open-minded and socially liberal people will be impressed by your caring, sharing nature and want to sleep with you.|
|More walking and biking – As low-emissions as it gets||Saves you money, makes you live longer, you will look good naked. Hot people will want to sleep with you.|
|3) How you heat your house|
|Fit curtains, insulation, double glazing||Healthier, drier houses, easier to get out of bed in the morning when its not bloody freezing out there. Washed clothes will dry out faster, towels won’t smell. People will want to sleep with you, in your house. Hence no walk of shame. For you in Auckland, insulation keeps the heat out and the cold in.|
|Use the sun – Put your house in the right place, facing north, capturing sunshine.||Free energy, no heating bills, saves you money. People will come around to your house to sunbathe wearing very little.|
|4) What you eat|
|Eat less meat – Amount of oil to produce a kilo of beef versus a kilo of wheat? About eight times as much||You’ll be healthier, smell better and open-minded and healthy people will want to sleep with you.|
|Buy local food – NZ makes fantastic food, wine and beer. Get on with it.||Local food tastes better for a given price. Why pay x% of the price of a bottle of wine on shipping it from France, when if the bottle came from the Wairarapa, each and every one of those dollars could have gone into making it taste better.|
|5) What you buy|
|Buy things that last. If it’s something that uses no energy in its life, like furniture, if it lasts forever then its average emissions per year become zero.||Its always cheaper to buy good stuff, in the long run. Crap bike parts I can thrash in six months; good kit costs twice as much, lasts decades. And less hassle coz stuff rarely breaks/needs attention/let’s you down.|
|Laptops not PCs, LCDs not CRTs – When you buy tech in fast-moving areas like computers, its going to become obsolescent before it breaks. So buy the stuff that uses less electricity.||Benefits specific to tech, but laptops can be used in bed, and can make pizza appear with ease|
|Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, hot water tank insulation||Saves you money, saves you money, saves you money. Imagine a bank account that doubles your money in two years. That’s how good an investment.|
|6) How you spend your time|
|Have more fun with less stuff – Have fun with your friends. Taken to the limit, I suggest that the best thing that you can do, involving no consumption or fuel use, is to have sex. Have sex with people near you, do so with contraception, and have sex that’s going to make you happy and healthy.||Benefits self-evident|
That’s my quick suggestions. Comments appreciated.