Talking about climate change has got to be one of the most depressive things you could possibly do. It’s almost as depressing as talking about climate change mitigation or worse, the carbon tax. But it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s just that people never seem to talk about the good side of things. Today though, I will! Tackling climate change need not be seen as a giant financial or social burden and here’s why.
The air we breathe
One of the great causes of climate change is of course, carbon dioxide (boo!), coming mainly from coal power plants and other polluting industries. Capping carbon emissions will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being pumped out as well as reducing air pollution.
Fresh air is good. It keeps our lungs clean and our skies clear. In fact, the only downside to clean air is that it makes farts more obvious. Polluted air on the other hand is linked to respiratory disease, asthma and premature deaths. In China, some 400,000 people die each year because of air pollution, a number that is predicted to rise globally to 3.6million by 2050.
Air pollution also depreciates the aesthetics of a city. Smog is gross and tourism is undoubtedly affected by the lack of pleasant skies. Curbing air pollution can save lives, save cities and save our Earth. Remember, you can always blame it on the dog.
Trimming the fat
Capping carbon emissions can also make walking, cycling and public transport all the more attractive. Let’s face it, Australia is fat. And many other developed nations are fatter. Incentivising healthy living can only be a good thing.
In Australia, 13,000 lives are lost due to obesity-related illnesses. This costs about $21billion annually…$21billion! 13,000 lives! This is absurd! Incentivising active modes of transport can ease this number and bring out the slimmer side in all of us.
Such investments are also likely to see returns in social capital. With more footfall in residential areas, the community spirit is lifted, seeing reduction in anti-social behavior and rises in neighbourhood watch. And while we all have that one neighbor that we’d prefer not to spend any more time with than we have to, the benefits outweigh the annoyances.
Just another no meat Monday
There is another way that we can mitigate climate change and help ourselves. I’m going to go ahead and be the unpopular guy here and suggest that we all…eat a little less meat (don’t shoot the messenger!).
Raising cows and pigs and chickens is all well and good but it contributes to 15-24% of all greenhouse gas emissions. That’s huge! But if we all eat less meat, we can reduce that contribution, while preventing all that fatty, fatty meat from clogging our arteries and giving us cancer and heart disease. I’m not saying cut out meat all together, but having a No Meat Monday would be a start. Vegetables taste good!
Almost too much winning
Now this wouldn’t be a positive piece about climate change action if I didn’t directly address how much winning the environment would be doing. Protecting forests and all that other hippy stuff is actually, legitimately, a good thing for the Earth and us.
Natural ecosystems sequester carbon, removing it from the atmosphere, in effect, reversing climate change. And if that’s not enough, a healthy environment provides billions around the world with fresh food, water and resources. Without those three things, we’d be losing so much.
The preservation of Earth’s natural beauty also will attract the tourism dollars. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef alone is worth $5billion annually. If we destroyed that, that’s $5billion less we could spend on clothes and stuff.
Protecting ecosystems, believe it or not, might actually also cure cancer. 50% of prescription drugs are actually derived from plants (yes, you pay all this money for shit you could just grow…slash not really). Given that we’ve hardly studied any plants in depth, there’s a real possibility that the plants out there contain all the necessary chemicals to cure a range of cancers and diseases.
WIN WIN WIN!
So as a bit of a recap, let’s debrief on some of the wins that come from tackling climate change:
1) Healthier people, living longer lives
2) Less money spent on disease and cancer, more money from tourism
3) Natural beauty with the potential to cure cancer
Oh and we all don’t burn up in a giant ball of fire. Climate change action need not be an awful, terrible, negative thing. If we just look at it the right way, we’ll see there are a world of opportunities and good fortune, just around the sustainable corner.