I overheard a young couple in a Tesco Express the other day debating whether to buy four or six tins of tuna. I couldn’t resist intervening and suggested whatever they decide to hurry up, because soon there won’t be any left to buy. They were taken aback, but their inquisitive looks made it easy to explain about the unsustainable and exploitative fishing and selling of those fish, and as they returned all the tins, I suggested a few websites for them to check out. Job done.
So if its as simple as that to persuade someone to stop buying tuna, why do most drivers still leave their engines idling at traffic lights, travel around town in gas guzzling SUVs, or buy food with a huge mileage component, when it would be quite simple to stop these by explaining the environmental harm they cause? There’s a whole list of initiatives local or national government could be taking leads on regarding climate change, sustainability and environmental protection, some simple, others complex. Switching off at traffic lights is an easy one, but the vehicles people buy complex, because it involves a national economic system built around profits, taxation and employment, with powerful lobbyists working to keep things as they are. Same with flying. Persuade people to stop doing so much, and a major part of the nation’s industry would need changing.
The problem is, we have no choice. We have been warned now that we are at the beginning of rapid climate change and have about 12 years left to prevent it becoming uncontrollable. That means within that time, our governments, leaders, thinkers and ourselves must act to change the way we do things, small stuff like stopping idling at traffic lights, or big things like buying fewer cars, flying much less and eating locally produced food. I suspect that means revolutionizing economic and taxation values, and certainly initiating easy win educational campaigns to inform and change. Like the couple in Tesco, people want to live sustainably, and are willing to learn.
As an example of rapid climate change, look at Climate Change in Mongolia. There is a chart showing that Mongolia’s average temperature rise from 1990 to 2010 is 2.1C. In the 1940s it was a bit colder than -1C, so has gone up 3 degrees in 70 years, 2.1C in the last 20.
One of a regular series of articles, written by Sustainable Redland founder Hamish Wills.
It was published in Bishopston Voice in May 2019.