Late last year I read ‘The Weather Makers‘ by Tim Flannery. It was published in 2005. Other than technology improvements (he calls for the use of hybrid cars rather than fully electric vehicles), the message is still current.
It saddens me that for decades now people, like Flannery and Attenborough, have been sending this message. Humans are changing the climate and we’re pushing our environment to tipping points. Yet, here we are in 2021 and there is still no real global action to drastically cut atmospheric carbon.
Flannery’s message in ‘The Weather Makers’ is, however, hopeful. Drastically cutting atmospheric carbon is possible. But we have to act and, 16 years down the track, that action is only more urgent.
“You can, in a few months rather than the fifty years allowed by some governments, easily attain the 70 per cent reduction in emissions required to stabilise the Earth’s climate. All it takes is a few changes to your life, not of which requires serious sacrifices.”Tim Flannery
Flannery addresses personal actions in three main areas: electricity, transport and ‘in the workplace’. I’ll look at each in a moment. In addition to this, he wants us to write to our politicians. Specifically to ask them not what their position is on climate change but “what they, personally, are doing to reduce their own emissions”. What a great idea. The true measure of someone’s values is in their personal actions.
Actions from ‘The Weather Makers’
Reduce your electricity usage
Other than taking day-to-day actions to reduce energy use, such as turning of lights when not in use, moving to green power can eliminate household emissions from electricity. If solar panels on your roof are not an option, change to an accredited Green Power option with your energy company. Solar hot water alone can reduce household emissions by 30%. Choosing the most efficient air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and light globes, plus using Triple-A rated showerhead all contribute substantially to reducing electricity use.
Reduce Transport Emissions
Our reliance on the motor car is a huge contributor to our household carbon emissions. Flannery recommends reducing emissions by using the car less by walking, cycling or using public transport. When you next buy a car, make it an electric vehicle if you can afford it. If that isn’t an option, choose the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle you can. If you need a larger vehicle only on occasions, hire one.
In the Workplace
When considering our personal carbon footprint, we often overlook our workplace. We might feel we don’t have much control over how our employer manages its emissions. Workplaces, however, can achieve significant reductions in resource consumption which, of course, also saves them money. Suggest a workplace audit, citing the possible cost savings, and take the lead on implementing the changes recommended.
Write to A Politician
Ask your local representatives what they are doing personally to reduce their carbon footprint. Let them know you want to see drastic and urgent change.
An Addition from Me
One thing I think Flannery misses from his list is about consumption. He does make mention of consumer influence on the marketplace but I think we need to go further. Possibly, when Flannery wrote ‘The Weather Makers’, the issue of personal consumption wasn’t so much on the radar. However, I believe that we all need to thoroughly overhaul our consumption habits. We influence what is produced and sold in our shops by the power of consumer action. More importantly, our Earth simply cannot sustain our current levels of consumption of consumer goods. We each have to reduce what and how we consume to bring us back into planetary bounds.
“There is one thing that no CEO can afford to look away from – the melee of buyers and sellers known as the market. It is my firm belief that all the efforts of government and industry will come to naught unless the good citizen and consumer takes the initiative, and in tackling climate change the consumer is in a most fortunate position.”Tim Flannery
So there you have a quick summary of the personal actions recommended in ‘The Weather Makers’ by Tim Flannery. Those of us who can, have a responsibility to act to reduce our personal footprint. We can all agitate for our politicians to do the same.
“If everyone who has the means to do so takes concerted action to rid atmospheric carbon emissions from their lives, I believe we can stabilise and then save the cyrosphere.”Tim Flannery