The bewildering reality of the climate crisis, and what we can do

One Change: As Greta Thunberg says, all we have to do is to wake up and change

Planet Earth: in May, Ireland was the second country to declare a climate emergency

Planet Earth: in May, Ireland was the second country to declare a climate emergency

 

Thinking about climate change – and what we should do about it, as individuals – can be a bit bewildering. The erratic weather, the rising sea levels, the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species – these are all big and frightening pieces of information to absorb, never mind wondering about what role we can play in tackling “the biggest challenge facing humanity”.

In May, Ireland was the second country in the world – after the UK – to declare a climate emergency. We know there is a need for urgent change; the electorate reflected this in the surge in support for the Green Party in recent local and European elections, while children are now becoming more exercised about the environment and starting to point the finger at us, worrying about their futures.

I’m going to examine my own consumption habits – in the home, at work, with my children – get tips from the experts and find out more about the science behind green living

“All we have to do is to wake up and change,” says Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist. And while this may seem simplistic, it’s because the message is straightforward: the only way to tackle this problem is to change how much – and what – we consume.

In our new One Change column, which Manchán Magan and I will take turns to write, I’m going to examine my own consumption habits – in the home, at work, with my children – and look at alternatives, get tips from the experts and find out more about the science behind green living. I want to make informed and effective decisions about how to go about using less plastic packaging, for example, or how to create more energy-efficient habits in the home.

By focusing on one issue in each column, I’m hoping to adapt my lifestyle to use less and help stop the destruction of what astronomer Carl Sagan famously described in 1990, after revealing a photograph of Earth from space, as this “pale blue dot”.

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