What can we do to help alleviate the crisis, make a difference, and protect our own mental well-being? Here are some of the things the students at Putney High School are up to …
Student # 1 – I know I personally have a lot of stuff as a kid, it’s plastic toys and things like that. I’m going to try to encourage people to give, for example, to charity shops or to reuse things that you know you thought you would never use again.
Student # 2 – P *** y and I are currently involved in a start-up project. And what we do is like a sustainable vegetarian cookbook.
Student # 3 – First of all, while we’re trying to make meals pretty cheap and easy because we mostly sell to students,
Harry – And tasty?
Student # 3 – Oh yeah, this is really delicious because we are going to be eating the recipes as well. But I think red meat is probably the biggest part of people’s carbon footprint. So trying to educate them about it is probably the best way to do it. Even if people are not vegetarians all the time, even if they only make a small change in their life, it can make a big difference.
Harry – I even heard that one of the students is developing an app to encourage savings on domestic water consumption, Chris.
Chris – Well they know what they’re saying. You always get the best ideas from young people who have been unbiased and brainwashed by so-called education. You think outside the box. With us now to help us all think outside the box and consider some of the actions we can all take alongside the things Kathleen was saying about education and so on, this is Neil Jennings. He comes from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, he participated in COP26. Neil, you’ve made a list of nine things that you think should really be on all of our radars for climate change behavior change. Do you just want to lead us by them?
Neil – Yeah, so that ties in with some of the ideas that young women brought up there. Among the list, we have things like reducing meat consumption and driving less on foot and by bicycle, using public transport more. And for those who fly, you know, fly less and reduce waste. And the two that I would like to highlight are making your voices heard by those in power. Whether it is your local MP or your city councilor, or companies to contact them, to let them know that you care about this problem and to ask and push them, if you will, to put in the right infrastructure and the right ones. incentives in place to make it as easy as possible for us as citizens to make some of these changes, such as eating less meat or using more public transport. And the second one that I always love to hang out with is talking to each other about the changes we’ve made. You know, some of these things will be difficult. Some of the changes we need to make for, for, to tackle climate change, there will be challenges that we will face along the way. So it is so important that we discuss with our friends, our families what we have tried to do, our experiences, what went well, what did not work, so that we can help each other overcome some of the challenges we face. the way to help in a way, also in a way helps to normalize some of those behaviors that are good for the environment. Moreover, in many cases it has also been good for our health.
Chris – Why did you choose these two as your first two? I mean, we can consider some of the others in a minute, but why those two priorities, what proof do you have that they’re really important?
Neil – I think it’s because it relates to the mental health part, the first one, that there are things that we can’t control. There are things in our homes that we control whether it is the lights, the car we choose to drive, but there are things that we need our elected officials to do to make it easier for us to bring some of the things. these other changes. So, you know, we need our elected officials to make sure that we have a good charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. We need them to put in place the right incentives or infrastructure to allow us to cycle easily and feel safe when we do. So I think the ones I always mention because they relate to the mental health article, we need our elected officials to step up their efforts and people feel a level of anxiety and worry about the change. climate change because we don’t always see our leaders leading.
Chris – Sorry to interrupt you on that, but the problem now is that the political cycle is in some countries four years, in our country five years or less, before we all go back for election. And so really what our governments worry about, they worry about being re-elected. Climate change is not a five-year problem – well it wasn’t, it is fast becoming so, but it wasn’t. So it’s a bit outside the realm of time that really, really galvanizes politicians and that’s probably its weakness, isn’t it?
Neil – So, but I guess the only thing we’ve seen over the last few years is this very significant increase in the level of concern among climate change by the public. For example, Ipsos Mori carries out surveys every month and climate change, or the environment at large, is among the top three areas of concern cited by a representative sample of the British public. So it went from something that, you know, it was kind of like hovering around 10th place for quite a while to actually one of the concerns that, you know, elected officials should be concerned about. with a view to being re-elected. So I know, I know what you mean in this regard, but I think things have changed.
Chris – Why do you think there has been this turnaround in terms of people’s interests? I noticed it too. And I thought to myself that maybe it was just because COP26 was taking place for the first time, really in our territory. Is that it, or is it actually that everyone cares and it’s a string of recent bad weather that’s causing it?
Neil – Yes, barely a week or a month has gone by without a very significant weather event associated with what one would expect to see in a warming climate. So let’s see over the summer we had flooding in New York, China, London, Germany. And these are exactly the kinds of events one would expect to see more associated with climate change and Helen Barry earlier touched on the type of wildfires in Australia. So there are increased levels of awareness of this issue because of what people see and connect the dots and say, we need more action on this.
Chris – Neil Jennings, thank you very much. Harry.
Harry – Well done, Chris, and that concludes today’s chapter on our discussion on climate change. Something Helen told me that I would also like to share with you is that each of us comes from a different background and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Anything you can do to help alleviate this crisis is great. Make sure you take the time to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. Well, let’s end like we usually do by biting our teeth into a juicy, thought-provoking question you sent us – and Julia Ravey has some food for thought for Jodie.