Happy New Year!
16 Jan, 2023
Before we get stuck in, let me wish you all the best for 2023 and I hope that you enjoyed the festive season in Magical Mangawhai, hopefully sharing this special time with friends and family.
Fingers crossed for an eventful and positive 2023. No doubt winning the Rugby World Cup, this time the men trying to replicate our amazing women, and our general election will hog the headlines. However, in the background the climate crisis continues to evolve here and around the world.
Was 2022 a great year for reducing greenhouse gasses? Sadly not quite. In fact there are now more emissions in the atmosphere than ever and we burned more coal, not less. In our pursuit of the rise in temperature being limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, sadly a rise of over 1.0C is already “locked in” with expectations of reaching the dreaded 1.5C level by 2030 now. Record heatwaves in Europe, hottest year ever, massive flooding especially in Australia, and major droughts especially in eastern Africa are just four ramifications.
What does this mean? Simply that we all need to work harder than ever to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. I must apologise. Chances are that you have made sacrifices and changed aspects of your personal lifestyle to help planet earth by reducing emissions from fossil fuels and methane gasses. Maybe you have used less petrol, maybe insulated your home to reduce electricity, maybe reduced eating meats or consuming dairy products, maybe using the Mangawhai Shuttle over the festive season in preference to driving to the beach. For everyone who is a wee bit “greener” than a year ago, a huge thank you!
So let’s go back to basics. What can you personally do to reduce those nasty emissions and your “carbon footprint”? Two expensive options. Certainly look into upgrading your car to an EV. And look into installing solar panels on your roof. However, with inflation heading north, these options may have to wait a wee while. So, four more straightforward ideas.
Reduce the cost of running your home by installing a heat pump in preference to gas, oil or wood-based heating. Properly insulate your home. Look to turn down the thermostat on your water heater. Switch to an electricity supplier who has already switched exclusively to generating renewable energy. Make sure all windows and doors are draft-proof.
Reduce the quantity of meat, especially red meat such as lamb and beef, and dairy in your diet. Livestock creates 14 percent of all greenhouse gasses globally, and around 45 percent of Aotearoa’s gasses.
Try and save money and waste. Buy local foods where possible as tons of greenhouse gasses are generated when processing food overseas and shipping them to your local shops. It’s a crime to throw away food! Try growing some of your own veggies and fruit. Save money by buying smaller portions, and wherever possible compost wastage to minimise the methane gasses generated at landfills. Incredibly globally approaching 30 percent of food is wasted. In poor countries food has difficulties “getting to market” whereas in wealthy countries invariably the wastage takes place once food is purchased.
However, can I acknowledge the amazing work being undertaken by the food banks throughout our country, and the generous contributions regularly made by the supermarkets, food shops and cafes in gifting their products. If I had a wish for 2023 it would be that we no longer need food banks, however we do, and they perform an amazing service not just in Mangawhai but throughout Aotearoa.
No list would be complete without the suggestion of flying and driving less. Transport is responsible for nearly 25 percent of CO2 emissions globally. It’s huge! I’m not suggesting that you stop flying altogether. Flying when visiting family, friends and having vacations is frequently the only means of transport. However, using ‘Zoom’ or ‘Microsoft Teams’ in preference to flying for business meetings is totally practical and costs nothing. When I fly I donate to Trees That Count so as to offset the emissions.
Finally, huge emissions are generated by the manufacture and distribution of clothing. Look towards gifting unneeded garments to our op-shops and buying second hand where practical. Nobody will know!
For everyone who is a wee bit “greener” than a year ago, a huge thank you!