Global warming and climate change is something that we at SR Mailing are utterly passionate about reducing, as you might already know. And while it might appear that the nature of modern life means that we can’t avoid the use of fossil fuels, plastics, and huge amounts of energy, there are certainly ways that we can reduce all of these things, and more – which in turn will help to stop the disastrous global warming and climate change.
What Is Global Warming?
Global warming is exactly what it sounds like – a faster than usual increase in the temperature on the surface of our planet. Throughout the history of the planet, we know that Earth has heated up and cooled down. This has been triggered by the amount of sunlight that has been received because of slight changes to the orbit, changes to the atmosphere, or the surface of the planet, or because of the amount of energy the Sun was releasing. The evidence for this is seen in tree rings, layers of ice in glaciers, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks.
The global warming that we’re most concerned about – the heating up of Earth that has occurred over the past 100 years – hasn’t been caused by natural events. It has been caused by humankind becoming much more industrialised, and because of burning fossil fuels, which releases gases that scientists refer to as ‘greenhouse gases’.
The greenhouse gases released by industry, cars and homes are not able to be absorbed by the Earth, and they get trapped inside the atmosphere. This magnifies our atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect, and causes heat from the sun to be unable to escape – which causes further warming.
Is Climate Change Different To Global Warming?
These terms are often used as synonyms, since they both refer to damage that humans are causing to the planet, but they’re not quite the same thing.
Global warming specifically refers to the increase in the temperature of the planet due to the greenhouse effect.
Climate change refers to the changes in the weather we experience (our climate) including things like the amount of precipitation, increases in temperature, and increased wind speed as a result of global warming.
Although there are pretty important differences between the terms, if you’re looking to take steps to save the planet, we think it doesn’t really matter to which you refer – as long as you’re taking those steps seriously.
Why Is Climate Change A Problem For Us?
Some people have questioned by climate change is actually a problem – isn’t a few warmer days that we can spend on the beach a good thing in the UK? Well, maybe, if that was the only effect that climate change caused. Some of the much bigger, more serious issues that the planet will face include:
- Extreme temperatures – causing dehydration, heatstroke, and major organ damage for humans and animals, as well as the potential for wildfires
- Poorer air quality – causing problems for eyes, heart, and lungs, which can result in premature death as a result
- Increase in vector-borne diseases (illness spread by insects) – increasing the range of countries that such illnesses as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile fever can be contracted
- Problematic weather – flooding and hurricanes can lead to major injuries, as well as waterborne illnesses such as cholera, shigella, typhoid, and hepatitis
- Low-lying land may be reclaimed by the sea as increased temperatures mean polar ice caps and other permafrost melts
- Water sources can dry up – or may become contaminated, meaning drinking water is harder to find
- Growing plants for food will become more difficult as a result of the increased temperatures and subsequent drought
- The world economy will be impacted – by up to 6% off a country’s GDP, with higher temperatures leading to much worse economy (on top of these other horrible effects!)
Issues such as these will impact on all of us, but those who are already in disadvantaged situations – such as poorer countries, or in lower paid jobs – will experience these factors in a far worse way. Loss of safe homes, inability to access healthcare, and the ability to source clean drinking water will lead to a more difficult way of life, and ultimately is likely to lead to an increase in death rates for people in these populations.
Can We Really Prevent Climate Change?
We’ve already caused major climate change, and unfortunately, because of our actions, there is guaranteed to be further change. The planet doesn’t make the changes immediately, and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide can be trapped in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.
If we don’t make any changes at all, then we will almost certainly see huge increases in global temperatures by 2100 – current estimations suggest that temperatures will rise by 2.5°C to 4.5°C. With those changes, we’re going to experience almost all of those awful effects that we talked about earlier, and life is going to become pretty uncomfortable – if not for us, then for our children and grandchildren.
However, while it may be too late to prevent any climate change at all, NASA scientists, and many others, think that there is much to be done to prevent the worst effects of climate change. However, to make this a reality, we need to take huge steps, for decades (and maybe even centuries) to undo the damage we have done. Some estimates suggest that humanity need to cut CO2 by around 45% before 2121 in order to make serious progress – which is why we must all act now, doing everything that we can, as fast as we can.
What Do We Need To Do To Stop Global Warming?
There are many things we need to do to prevent global warming being completely irreversible. We’ll cover many of the steps that we can all take to help in our daily lives next, but unless governments and big businesses make significant changes, there will be no point.
What Can Governments And Corporations Do About Global Warming?
On the face of it, this might seem to be a pretty simple thing – just stop polluting! And while that is definitely the case, there is much, much more to it than just that. Here are some of the recommendations that scientists have made for corporations and governments.
- Sign up to climate agreements
There are plenty of these that are available for governments and conglomerates to sign up to! The Paris Agreement is the biggest, with the EU and 190 states worldwide signing up – with just Iran, Turkey, Eritrea, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq never ratifying the agreement (although Iraq is currently taking steps towards it). The aims of the Paris Agreement include:
- Taking steps to keep the global average temperature to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels
- Finding ways to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, fostering climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production
- Ensuring finance flows consistent, with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
- Reach “global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible”
The Paris Agreement is legally binding, but there are no penalties for non-compliance – and so whether the long-term changes required will be implemented by all countries will remain to be seen.
The Climate Pledge is one of the biggest amongst multinational companies, with the aim of those that accept the challenge to reach net zero carbon by 2040 – ten years before the Paris Agreement. Companies and organisations must measure, and report on their greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement decarbonisation strategies, and work to neutralise remaining emissions with “additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets” in order to reach net zero carbon by 2040. Some of the world’s biggest companies, including Amazon, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, and Unilever have committed to the pledge.
- Measure and analyse emissions
For countries and companies, this step just makes sense – knowing how much greenhouse gas is being released at the present, means that steps can be taken to reduce them. For companies that are not sure where to start, there are private companies that can help understand, and to find solutions to reduce emissions.
- Minimise energy consumption
Just as at home, this is a really easy one for businesses to put in place – using motion sensor, super-efficient lighting, lowering the heating and AC, and switching off power whenever, and wherever possible should all be company policy. Not only will this benefit the planet, but it will dramatically cut costs for the business too!
- Switch to renewable energy
Providers of renewable energies want your business, and avoiding fossil fuels completely is one of the best ways to completely reduce the carbon footprint of the business.
- Reduce waste
When it comes to the day to day running of a business, taking all the steps that are possible at home are desirable here. Eliminating single-use kitchenware, reusing paper, recycling correctly – it all adds up to a much smaller impact on the environment. And of course, where businesses are using packaging materials, sustainable options should be the go-to.
Going one step further, businesses should ensure equipment is used properly to reduce breakage, to repair rather than to replace, and to ensure disposal of aging equipment is done responsibly, in line with WEEE guidance, recycling wherever possible.
- Optimise transportation
Since COVID-19, many businesses have established that there is less requirements for international business travel, since much of their interaction can happen from home, via Zoom. But where employees need to travel to company premises, employers should encourage and incentivise the use of public transports and carsharing to reduce transport emissions.
- Choose the most sustainable suppliers
This is a point that companies have complete control over – the suppliers they choose to work with. By opting to work with environmentally sustainable suppliers, less sustainable suppliers have to do better if their business is to survive.
- Encourage awareness and reward efforts
The responsibility for what individuals do doesn’t rest with their employers, of course. But by encouraging employees to act more sustainably, more people take part in this type of initiative, and they will become long-term changes, which will influence their families and friends too.
- Encourage sustainable working practices
We’ve already mentioned how there are less requirements for employees to travel for meetings, conferences, and so on. COVID-19 developed this much more quickly than it otherwise might have, which is possibly one of the few silver linings of the pandemic! Not only can less travel benefit the environment, better file storage arrangements and collaborative working setups mean that fewer emails need to be sent, increasing the efficiency of all departments, all round – not just for the benefit of the environment!
What Can We Do Personally To Stop Global Warming & Prevent Climate Change?
We’ve talked on the blog before about how we can reduce plastic pollution, and how we can fight global warming – and we’re unlikely to stop talking about these things any time soon, since they’re so important to the future of the planet. While we’ve covered some of these ideas in previous posts, we’ve included other ideas that you can start to implement here. Remember, every step you can take helps – but doing all of these things in one go might be tricky. Making gradual steps each week will help you to change your habits for good, rather than setting yourself up to fail.
Make Your Voice Heard
People power is important! If you can attend organised, peaceful protests, and you can do so with minimal impact on the environment (taking a flight to attend a protest definitely isn’t the right way forward!) then that is a powerful way to pressure governments and other organisations to make changes. Of course, this won’t be possible for everyone, all of the time – or even some of the time – so here are some other things you can do to get your voice heard.
Contacting your local MP, as well as your local councils to petition them about improvements they can make to help stop global warming is a fantastic way of helping the situation. It is easy to find out who your local MP is today, and from the parliament website you can find their website, and any social media that they are active on – meaning that you can petition them by writing to them, or by messaging them on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else they are active.
On top of writing to your MP directly, you can add your name to official petitions that aim to encourage the government to make changes. In the UK, there are petitions that are on the UK Parliament website, or you can search Change.org for other petitions to put your name to. And while we’re talking about MPs – when it is time to vote, be sure to check what the candidates, or political parties are committing to with regard to the environment. Your vote counts, so don’t skip it!
If you feel particularly strongly about the work that certain organisations are doing – especially those that lobby the government – and you can do so, then donating money can help them to expand their work. We understand that this may not be an option for everyone, and many of us will want to investigate exactly how the organisation uses monetary donations, but we’re mentioning as in many cases, it can really make a difference.
Choose Your Diet More Carefully
Meat and dairy products have been identified as being some of the biggest contributors to global warming. While it may not be possible to become completely vegan all of the time, choosing more locally grown, and plant-based foods, more of the time means that your carbon footprint can be dramatically reduced.
Red meat has a high impact on the environment, and the carbon footprint of just one cheeseburger is the same as nine portions of falafel and pitta, or six portions of fish and chips. Eating less of it, and eating seasonal produce that is grown locally (to reduce the impact of transportation, preservation, and refrigeration) will help to minimise the impact of your diet.
This isn’t just beneficial to the environment – there are huge potential health benefits of eating more plant based foods, and not just for weight loss.
Don’t Make Flying The Default For International Travel
International business is the norm these days, but that shouldn’t mean that flying around the world on a regular basis should be a necessity. Taking the train is often possible, and in many cases, is comparable (or even faster) than flying. Research showed that to take a single journey between London and Paris is cheaper, faster and creates just 2kg of CO2, rather than a massive 59kg when flying.
Where international journeys are necessary, and taking the train is not possible, then book the maximum number of meetings possible in the area during the stay to make the best possible use of the time and to minimise the need for multiple trips. Businesses that are aiming to become carbon neutral can contribute funds to carbon offsetting schemes, that work on natural solutions like planting trees and sea meadows.
Choose Greener Options For Shorter Journeys
Taking short trips on foot or on a bicycle, rather than jumping in the car will help to minimise your impact on the environment, since you’re solely using your own power, and not burning any fossil fuels. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll also be helping yourself to stay fit and healthy much longer.
When taking longer journeys in the same country, taking public transport should be the preferred method of getting from A to B. Many areas are investing in buses and trains, so take advantage – trains are great for being able to work while you’re on the go too.
Where walking, cycling or public transport isn’t possible, then car sharing is the ideal situation, so that fewer car journeys are required. If you’re using your car, then you should always ensure that tyres are inflated to the correct PSI, and that you’re following advice about how to drive for the best fuel efficiency, such as not keeping unnecessary items in your car, and drive as smoothly as possible.
Once it is time to trade in your car, consider whether an electric, or a hybrid model is right for you. If you rarely need a car, then you may be able to make savings by simply hiring an electric vehicle when you need one.
Increase The Efficiency Of Your Home
There are so many ways to make your home run more efficiently – and making changes that will benefit the environment will almost certainly benefit your bank balance too!
- Insulate your home properly
- Add draught excluders to doors
- Keeping heating (or air conditioning) to a minimum – just a degree or two lower makes a huge difference
- Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient LED options
- Use water carefully to minimise waste
- Ensure windows are double glazed – look for secondary glazing where this is not an option
- Change your energy supplier to one that used renewable sources such as solar, wind and wave power
These are just a few of the ideas that can help increase the efficiency of your home – there are many local government incentives and initiatives that you may be able to benefit from too, especially if you are in an older home.
Expand Green Spaces
Our gardens aren’t just great for our physical and mental health – purely by existing, plants and trees help to capture carbon dioxide, and can help to reduce pollution. Increasing the amount of plants and trees in an area can help to cool towns and cities, as well as reducing the risk of flooding by absorbing rainwater. You’ll also be providing homes for local wildlife, like birds and insects.
Planting in your garden can help to increase the habitats for local wildlife – and any amount can be helpful, from a simple window box or hanging basket, to using bigger spaces for growing wildflowers. If you’re sufficiently green fingered, then you can also make further savings by growing your own fruit and vegetables, which will also help to reduce your carbon footprint further.
If you don’t have a garden, then there are still ways to expand green spaces. Community gardens and allotments are available in many areas, which means you can benefit from cultivating your own fruit and vegetables. Even if you don’t know how to get started with gardening, you can help to protect green spaces like parks and woodlands – search to see how you can best support those in your local area. Organisations like The Conservation Volunteers are helping people to get involved in looking after their local green spaces, but local authorities may have initiatives that you can get involved in. These types of activities are great, since they don’t just increase your knowledge and practical skills, but they also demonstrate dedication – which is helpful if you’re searching for employment.
Finally, if you don’t have time or inclination to get out and do the hard work of gardening, then you can still contribute by planting trees. If you have cash, or your employer is able to donate, then you can do this simply by donating to any of the many charities and organisations that do so – such as the National Trust, the National Forest or Woodland Trust. If you aren’t in the position to make cash donations, then use Ecosia – the search engine that plants trees. You see exactly the same results as you would by searching directly online, and they use money from advertising to fund the planting of trees.
Use Your Money Wisely
They say to put your money where your mouth is, and aside from voting and campaigning, this is one of the ways that you really can make a difference – by hitting businesses in their wallet. Choose to shop from businesses that have ethical and sustainability policies. In the most part, businesses that have created these type of policies also have human rights and Fairtrade policies too, so you’ll be helping all the people involved in the supply chain to get a better deal too.
When it comes to your investments – from basic savings accounts, through to your pension and bigger investments – be sure to check exactly where they invest your money. Some funds invest in oil, deforestation activity, nuclear weapons, and unethical tax haven behaviour. There’s a list of the best ethical banks in the UK here, but be sure to do your research before you make a decision.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Of course, this is the basics of how to live a life that has a much lower impact on the environment – and there are few of us that haven’t heard this phrase. It is pretty self-explanatory though really:
Reduce the amount of unsustainable materials we use
Reuse wherever possible
Recycle everything we possibly can
We’ve mentioned before how plastic as a material isn’t necessarily the enemy – it is the way in which we use it that is the problem. Single use of anything (that has an environmental impact to create) isn’t good for our planet, and single use plastic is possibly the worst of these things – particularly when you consider that so much plastic waste ends up in the ocean.
Make Switches To Sustainable Options For Self-Care
When it comes to looking after yourself, there are some great switches to be made to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you create. As with food, look for plastic-free, or sustainable plastic packaging where possible, and for natural ingredients that have less impact on the environment.
Simple switches that you can make for your everyday needs include:
- Safety razors instead of disposables or plastic-based ones (the blades can be put in a special tin, which can then be sent for recycling)
- Changing to feminine hygiene products such as menstrual cups, washable sanitary towels, or period pants
- Using bars of shampoo and soap instead of using plastic bottles – or if you can’t switch, buy supersize versions to reduce plastic waste
- Where possible, find brands that do refills – The Body Shop has been offering this in store for years, and many others are following suit, such as Fenty Skin, Charlotte Tilbury, MAC, and L’Occitane.
- Buy reusable cloths, or makeup remover pads that can be washed
- When you need a manual toothbrush, choose a bamboo one rather than plastic
In some of these cases, making a change to the perfect solution might not yet be possible – but there is almost always a way that we can do better, and each small step we can take individually will help.
Buy In Bulk Where It Is Possible
Buying food in bulk has some great benefits, both financially, and for the environment.
It reduces waste – since there is less need for ‘attractive’ packaging, and single use plastics.
Helps to reduce transport miles – when there are bigger containers that can be packed more efficiently, there is less empty space on lorries, resulting in fewer lorry journeys being required.
It saves you money – companies have lower packaging costs when they sell bulk items, and so they pass that saving on to you.
It encourages you to plan better – rather than buying a 500g bag of pasta or rice each week, if you know you’re likely to use a 5kg bag in the next two months, buy the bigger bag! Meal planning means less waste, and if you’re ever stuck for what to make for dinner, a pasta, or rice dish will almost certainly be an option – even when you need to go shopping!
If you’re living alone, then buying food in bulk may still be possible without risking waste simply by buying together with a group of friends or neighbours. Although financial savings may be minimal, you’ll be able to reuse containers that you already have, and (as long as you’re not making additional car journeys to deliver!) it’ll benefit the planet too.
Buy From Zero Waste Stores
For some people, buying food in bulk simply doesn’t make sense, especially if there is too much that might end up being wasted. If buying in bulk isn’t an option, then head to your local zero waste store.
These stores buy in bulk, and then allow you to weigh out, and buy the exact amount of whatever you need – whether that is ingredients you need for recipes, or the right amount of cereal for the week so you don’t end up with stale cornflakes. You’ll be able to reuse containers over and over again, so you can get the absolute most from them – which is perfect for containers such as trigger sprays for cleaning products and so on.
The greatest personal benefit we’ve found from using ours? The people that run them are really knowledgeable about their stock, and can give you advice about how to store, use and enjoy those ingredients.
Share Your Actions With Friends And Family
All of these things are well worth doing just by yourself, but the biggest way that you can make an impact is to amplify those actions. Talking about what you are doing to reduce your impact on the planet doesn’t mean you have to really preach it – especially if the people you are discussing it with are likely to get annoyed with you going on and on. The best ways that we have discovered to get people to buy into the actions we’re trying to convince them to do is:
- Show them that it doesn’t take much extra effort to make a switch to a greener way of doing something
- Explain how much money it will save them too – personal gain is often a bigger motivator than ‘for the future of the planet’
- Tell them that perfection isn’t the goal, doing better is – this takes the pressure off them if they forget their water bottle once in a while, for example
While you can talk to your friends and family about the things you are doing, you can almost certainly reach more people by talking about it on social media. Whether you decide to set up a dedicated social media account, be sure to use hashtags such as #globalwarming #sustainabilitymatters, #sustainabilitytips and so on, so that you can reach more people that are interested in, or that are already actively searching for what you’re talking about.
Our Final Thoughts
Combatting global warming and bringing the Earth’s temperature back to a normal range requires serious action to be taken by all of us, as quickly as possible if we are to prevent irreversible climate change. We need governments around the world to commit to working together, buy-in from corporations who pledge to make changes to their industry – and to actually make those changes, and quickly. The biggest changes will come from governments and conglomerates, but for smaller businesses and individuals should continue to do everything within their own control to reduce their impact on the environment. Working together is the only way we can prevent an irreversible disaster.