Steps to Take in Response to the UN Climate Change Report
Press Release: IPCC presents findings of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (35 °F) at event to discuss Viet Nam's response to climate change
Hanoi, Oct 10 – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam (MONRE) in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) organized a high-level dialogue on Wednesday on climate change, with participation of policymakers and representatives from development partners, the private sector, civil society organizations and media.
At the dialogue, information on the newly approved Special Report of the IPCC on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C (35 °F) and related global greenhouse gas emission related pathways, known as Global Warming of 1.5°C (35 °F), were also shared.
The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C (35 °F) compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C (35 °F)compared with 2°C (36 °F). The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C (35 °F), compared with at least once per decade with 2°C (36 °F). Coral reefs would decline by 70–90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C (35 °F), whereas virtually all (>99 percent) would be lost with 2°C (36 °F).
"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C (34 °F) of global warming through more extreme weather and rising sea levels among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. "At the current rate of warming, the world is likely to reach 1.5° between 2030 and 2052" he added.
For visual & auditory learners, CNN and Mother Jones have respective digests of this report. This, as the CEO of Mother Jones states in her letter on overarching news, is “no time to quit.” Yet, the overwhelming bombardment of various news can make it feel otherwise. Reproductive rights, environmental health, journalism, labour rights, housing access, public health, and more all seem to be crumbling. Most have been foreseeable for those who saw the impact of capitalism & structural oppression coming. Yet, here we are and here is truly no time or space leave.
Global environmental issues, even with the above reportage, largely are out-of-sight for many consumers. They’re tucked away in television reports, talking heads, and newspapers. On the way home from over-worked and under-paid jobs (or lack thereof), convenience comes to the forefront for a vast majority in the U.S. Take-out styrofoam containers of food and meal delivery services are just a few examples.
As someone who lived a mile away from the West Texas-Mexico border, I know this reality. Most of my neighbours lived near or below the poverty line. There was only one grocery store with many produce wrapped in plastic. Recycling was an initiative that only began the year we moved there in 2016, and still required the knowledge of its existence and driving over to the lot with our recycles during limited hours. It was initiated and kept up by one volunteer resident, Elvira.
In the face of the current climate change news, I urge us to see ourselves both through the compassionate story of this border town and the inventiveness of Elvira. To simultaneously recognise that there are multifactorial issues such as under-paying jobs that require a dependency on wasteful food resources and work we can do.
Elvira began the recycling initiative without an overarching business, which is the general way recycling works—it is a business. Recycling companies make money off of these goods, which used to be sold predominantly to China. China, however, no longer wants our recyclables which end up, in short, back to the landfill. What once could’ve been recycled end up costing these companies as they need to then pay to get rid of the waste.
Here are some of our compassionate yet actionable tips to this growing waste & the climate change crisis
Opt for Non-wrapped Goods & BYO
As mentioned above, avoiding plastic wrap is sadly not an option for every one and in every location. However, when there is an option to buy, for instance, singles of apples over a plastic bag of them, opt for the former instead. If you find yourself buying an item often that comes in plastic, such as my fondness for mustard, make your own following our guide below.
For carrying or storage purposes, opt instead for produce bags, like our favourite womxn-owned ones, and reusable storage bags. When you know you’ll be having takeout when you’re out & about, bring your own utensils. We like these ones. Almost every market allows for bringing your own container as well for their food bar. Just make sure that they tare your container before you load it. We love this stainless steel container and this flask to keep foods like soup warm for hours. And, of course, bring your water bottle everywhere you can. To avoid instances where filtered water isn't available, we love popping one of these in for purification.
Take a Hike!
Or rather, a walk. Now that the weather is generally cooler, at least in the East Coast of the U.S., it’s a great time to walk to wherever you can rather than driving or hailing a ride service. Since my doctor-advised break from running, I have been walking almost everywhere. I see my 4-mile roundtrip to the grocery store as a wonderful way to get both my exercise in and my groceries done. You can take a similar approach or make a walking trip out of places to which you’d normally drive.
Speak Up & Out at Companies
Rather than fomenting in your own isolated complaints, voice it to the companies that cause it. The larger capitalism system may feel overwhelming but the companies that serve us, such as grocery stores or even co-ops, are accessible platforms to break the (supply) chain. An example that I gave on my personal Instagram page was that of Wegman’s charging triple the amount for non-plastic wrapped cauliflower. The same amount of cauliflower wrapped in plastic was $2.49 versus $9.50.
There is certainly labour involved in removed leaves and the deep stalk of cauliflower from the florets but a) there are machines that can do that and b) there are suppliers that can provide a head of cauliflower without plastic. So, I took the initiative to e-mail them about it. You can do the same about other issues that you want to take up with your green grocer. Some other suggestions I’ve made have been asking my co-op to switch over to compostable produce bags (for those who don’t have reusable ones, like these favourites of ours by a womxn-owned business) and including a composting bin.
We certainly understand that making homemade goods is not within the financial, temporal, or environmental means of everyone. DIY ventures is a delicate balance between saving money and spending time. That’s why we advocate for making homemade versions of goods that we consume often and projects that don’t take up too. much of our time. If the latter is the case for something that could take longer or more resources, ask your friends or community members if they’d like to do it with you. Canning is a great project for this since each person could bring along something, whether it’s canning supplies or produce from their garden.
At my house, my current favourite projects to reduce my waste is focusing on my most-consumed items of soap, condiments, and well, chocolate. I’m a condiment fiend, so this recipe round-up is a great resource for making my homemade versions. And making chocolate at home to save useless plastic wrapper is easy with following this recipe.
You can buy unwrapped bar soap in the bulk section of most markets for $2 and use that to make gallons of liquid soap. In short, you boil 4 quarts of filtered water in a large stockpot, take it off heat, place in finely-chopped bar soap in, stir, then let it sit for 24 hours. Once ready, you whip it with an electric whisk then store. We use this liquid soap for hands, body, and dishes; it’s our everything soap.
You don’t have to have a backyard or a garden to compost! We do this in our apartment and you can too by collecting compostable items in your freezer in a container (we use a stainless steel bowl) then bringing it to a facility near you. You can find one through this portal, but most farmer’s markets in large cities like New York or co-ops provide composting bins. MOM’s Organic Market in the East Coast also have bins in their stores for composting.
Reflect on the Impact of Your Necessities & Daily Practises
For womxn who have and bleed through their menstrual cycle, monthly purchases of hygiene products can get expensive. We still have stigma against periods in this day and age along with inaccessibility to these products for those who face financial hardship. This is in- and out of institutions such as prisons, which as a federal system should be providing menstrual products but often don’t. You can read my partner Cameron Dodd’s reporting on this in Maryland.
Many menstrual products are bleached as well as made and packaged in plastic, making it both detrimental for personal and environmental health. If you’re open to it, we suggest looking into menstrual cups. It can feel scary, intimidating, or abnormal at first, but its various sizes fit seamlessly after adjusting to them. It’s also a one-time investment of around $15 rather than continuous purchases of menstrual products over a lifetime, wasting our pockets and the environment. If your excuse is that you’re grossed out by menstrual cups, my two responses are a few: “What is the difference to you between a cup and walking around with a cotton wad with the same blood?,” “Why are you disgusted by your own body’s product?,” and well, get over yourself for the sake of the planet and try a cup out.
Other points to easily integrate into our lives can include
Unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, such as laptop chargers, which are known to be “energy vampires”; air-drying clothes rather than using the dryer; turning off the water in the shower when you’re shaving, scrubbing your body, or sudsing up your hair; reuse glass bottles to mindfully water your plants & avoid overwatering; buy secondhand/thrifted clothes, furniture, or items rather than fast fashion; and use cotton bar moppers instead of paper towels. As one reader and friend suggested, loan out expensive items to friends! Items such as camping gear or certain cooking utensils can be out-of-budget for many. Make a loaning pact with your friends or community to share these items.
Do you have your own suggestions? Comment below!
Vote, Vote, & Vote!
As reported by The Guardian last year, just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to The Carbon Majors Report. This “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions.” If that’s not enough of a scare,
For further reading, you can also take a look at Vox’s “No Bullshit Ambition on Climate Change,” but be wary of the Drawdown reference. Despite valid points, this is a book that also argues the importance of educating womxn, of which we are tireless advocates, but because educated womxn will have lower fertility rates and thus produce less children. Overcrowding the planet is an issue, but pinpointing that through blaming & shaming womxn’s reproductive system is not the answer.
How do we move forward then for true climate change politically? Simple: vote & vote for progressive, democratic candidates who are ideally those endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). As one author suggests, “don’t vote for people who are beholden to the fossil fuel crowd for their political careers. That would include virtually every Republican member of Congress today. Ever wonder why they all seem to sing from the same song book? It’s because they know they must toe the party line set forth by their masters from the fossil fuel industry, particularly Koch Industries, or face losing their seat.”
About the Author
Almila Kakinc-Dodd is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of The Thirlby. She is also the author of the book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing as a Dean’s Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Her background is in Anthropology & Literature, which she has further enriched through her Integrative Health Practitioner training at Duke University. She lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, where she regularly contributes to various publications. She is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and urges others to join the movement.