Our House On Fire Part 2: Combating Climate Emergency

by Helmy Sa'at

We certainly have no time to waste when it comes to dealing with the climate emergency that has arrived on our doorstep. Albeit not directly responsible for decades, even centuries, of environmental exploitation and degradation around the world, we definitely have in some way, shape and form benefited from it. More importantly, as we strive to keep the only liveable planet we call home, we are duty bound to make sure that future generations would have a fighting chance to keep calling Earth home.

Refocusing Our Climate Lens

There are a few options available to us all. Throwing our hands up in the air and refusing to accept the hard truth about the climate emergency. To curl up in the fetal position due to paralysis caused by fear and being gripped by depression. Or, simply choose to refocus our priorities individually and collectively by pairing our prayers with sustainable green actions that make a difference after accepting that climate emergency is our problem and we remain the solution.

As much as governmental green initiatives and policies around the world are the key factors in combating the climate emergency, individual actions still play a critical part in reducing the catastrophic effects of climate change largely accelerated by human activities. As governments lead communities to transition to a low-carbon future through careful planning, financing and building of low-emission ways for us to live, work and travel, we need to be aligned with what is implemented at large.

Just as important, is the necessity to understand the shift to a sustainable low-carbon living environment, exemplified by the transition to renewable energy sources that encompass solar and wind. Another instance that we have become familiar with over the years is the tree planting drive with its instrumental role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Greater understanding and clarity of direction, would enable us to better appreciate the rationale and actively contribute to the long term success of these green initiatives.

Consuming Life Differently

What can we do about the climate emergency? So much, still.

Two major ways are adopting a low emission diet that would help in reducing agricultural carbon footprint, and expediting the move to sustainable living by opting for more climate-friendly choices which partly has morphed into the cliche known simply as the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle (an issue which we shall revisit towards the end of this article).

Sustainability is essentially about (re)adjustments in our lives in order to rely less on human activities that are harmful to the natural environment. Thus, we are looking for ways which are not necessarily cheaper or more expensive, but emphasise innovation to achieve sustainable living.

One example is major events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar, later this year. The stadiums will be greener with the use of energy-efficient LED (light emitting diode) lights in addition to Stadium 974, built from shipping containers, easily dismantled and reassembled thereafter. This decision is not only an innovative way of being sustainable by tremendously reducing material waste and use of water in its construction, but also it proves that green ways can be implemented even on a large scale and replicated elsewhere which will be supported by millions of soccer fans worldwide. (Psst! And, if you are still wondering about its name, yes, Stadium 974 is named after the number of shipping containers used for its construction besides being the country’s international dialling code.)

Another facet of living green(er) is our food consumption — eating. Meatless meat is fast gaining popularity. However, it serves not just as a delicious alternative to beef, but a huge potential in combating the climate emergency. The production of meat, specifically beef, has the highest emissions of any food with it being responsible for more than half of all greenhouse gases from food production alone!

Climate Action Starting Yesterday

Let’s recap on some specific steps on how you and I could be part of the solution starting yesterday to be frank; so, we are actually far behind and playing catch up in the game of life.

First, a revisit on the 3Rs. Basics remain a priority. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing things that last such as opting to buy and support circular fashion, i.e., durable materials produced in sustainable ways. Use reusable cups and cutlery instead of plastic. And, support businesses that produce products and packaging that can be recycled.

Second, save energy. Other than the use of LED light bulbs, another way is to consider walking or riding a bicycle in your neighbourhood instead of driving. Again, opt for public transport instead of driving for longer journeys. Use the fan instead of air conditioning in the summer.

Next, stay informed. Expand your understanding and knowledge on the science of climate emergency beyond science textbooks of your schooling years from yesteryears. Read up and follow current affairs as news reports help in building understanding and awareness of what is happening around the world beyond your immediate environment. This also helps in being aware of the latest effort taken to deal with the climate emergency. This in turn could and should spur you to get involved by joining or forming a climate action group in your community!

Lastly, never let the climate emergency paralyse you into inaction either internally or externally. Share your concerns and worries. This helps in alleviating any anxiety and connects you to groups of people and/or organisations that contribute to meaningful effort in changing the status quo.

Keep the following in mind: The weight of the world is not yours alone to shoulder. No one can resolve this issue alone as we are all responsible for protecting and nurturing the only liveable planet that we know of, Earth, which we call home.