People are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of climate change. In October of 2018 the UN Panel on Climate Change stated we have 12 years to halt the growth of CO2 if we hope to avoid the worst possible consequences of global warming. (1) Yet following the shutdown of the global economy in 2020, the release of CO2 has accelerated. “In 2021 global energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to rebound and grow by 4.8% as demand for coal, oil and gas rebounds with the economy. The increase of over 1 500 Mt CO2 would be the largest single increase since the carbon-intensive economic recovery from the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, it leaves global emissions in 2021 around 400 Mt CO2, or 1.2%, below the 2019 peak.” (2)
The concentration of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and methane are heating the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2 in June 2023 stands at 424/ppm… In June 2021 it stood at 418/ppm. In June 2020 the figure stood at 416/ppm. Ten years ago, in June 2011, the measure stood at 390/ppm. (3) The rate of change is accelerating…
June 2023 was the hottest month globally in recorded human history. (6)
This awareness that the build-up of atmospheric CO2 is accelerating has led to many projects that are working to effect change. Greta Thunberg has raised the awareness of students and leaders to protest the inaction of adults on Climate. John Lui and others have organized eco-restoration camps to foster regenerative agriculture and to plant many more trees in degraded environments. Many foundations and pensions are pursuing divestment strategies from fossil fuel companies to reduce the capital available to produce carbon intensive projects. More people are turning to socially responsible investing as a way to have their own investments impact what the future will look like.
These are all great and noble actions, but what are some choices we can make as individuals to affect the growth of CO2 and other GHGs? A recent article from Science magazine quantified the impact of various actions a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint. (4) Many people look to lower their carbon emissions by recycling, or upgrading to LED lights, or washing clothes in cold water.
While these are positive for the environment, there are four lifestyle choices that can have a huge impact…
- Become a vegetarian or vegan… going meat free eliminates 1.6 metric tons of CO2, 4 times the carbon a person would save by recycling.
- Forego air travel… one transatlantic flight generates 1.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
- Live car free… this has become easier for many in an age of “work-from-home”; this would eliminate 2.4 metric tons of carbon, but if you need a car choose to go electric.
- Have fewer children… having one less child in a family would trim 58.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
I once interviewed a friend of Ram Dass’ named Emanuel. Emanuel said, “we live in an age of choice.” (5)
He continues, “It is not necessarily as dark as it seems… Do you choose this extremity, or do you choose light? Do you choose to be together in this, or do you choose to be apart? Do you choose fear, or do you choose love? Do you choose separation, or do you choose to come together? Together you can change the world. You are in a transition point from one epoch to another… it is an age of choice. Do you choose a new way of being, one that is about bringing communities together, to not fight, but to come together? For when you look at the evolution of human beings, it was not survival of the fittest, it was survival through cooperation and community.”
“It is a long march to freedom,” Emanuel adds.
Our choices now matter in ways we didn’t understand 10, 20 or 30 years ago. We have a responsibility to be good stewards, a responsibility to our children and to future generations.
If you have questions about Socially Responsible Investing, divestment from fossil fuels and animal agriculture and the impact of climate change, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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