Right to the Future
By Leonor Tavares
Climate Change, how many of us have already heard about this issue? Probably all, but have we ever done changes in our life according to this reality? Probably not, because it is too hard for us to understand that lots of species as our own are in great danger. Why don’t we do something, then? Because to make a difference and try to minimize or even revert this process called climate change that we are responsible for, we need to change our way of thinking and living (this phenomenon is a process expected to have unprecedented implications on where people can settle, grow food, build cities, and rely on functioning ecosystems for the services they provide. In many places, temperature changes and sea-level rise are already putting ecosystems under stress and affecting human well-being.)
When we were little, we learned that we have to reduce, recycle and reuse, but the truth is that we only do the recycle, which seems to be the easiest and enough, but is not. The most important “R” policy we need to follow is the hardest one, Reduce.
Reduce our consumption, our will to buy everything we don’t need or to use once and throw it way. We have to stop with this idea that everything is disposable and disappears without any consequence, as we have the oceans and sanitary fields to show us how bad this situation has become.
Therefore, I would like to introduce briefly four problems that together contribute for the so-called Climate Change:
One of the strongest industries in the world, and the one that has been keeping us for making so many important changes, when it comes to cars and electricity. This is one of those cases, where we have already the good options, but because of financial interests we are still relying on bad ones and all of us will and are already paying for this delay. It goes without saying that we need to make choices that show we are supportive of more renewable energies and solar power, and that we are in favor of riding a bike, walking, using the subway or even if it is possible buy electric cars. The use of so much fossils fuels increases the greenhouse gases emissions, one of biggest causes of temperature rise. In fact, if we think just about the damages that are made to find fossil fuels, such as the destruction of mountains and the drillings, which destroys huge amounts of land and ecosystems for something that will be inevitably exhausted in a matter of years. It doesn’t make sense, after all, having new alternatives will always be necessary, why not start now? If people are waiting to change when fossil fuels ends, then we may say that there is nothing to be done, because the planet doesn’t have that time to wait for a change.
The production of palm oil
This issue is not so well known but is one of the reasons why so many forests are being destroyed, like the Amazon Forest (the lung of the planet) and as consequence species and ecosystems are vanished forever. The only way to change this situation is to stop buying products that have this ingredient. So, there are many foods we need to look at very carefully, for example peanut butter, cookies, cereals, sauces, chocolate, vegetal creams. Actually, by doing this, it won’t just help the environment, it will help our health too, considering that palm oil is a fat that is not very good for us and is not that hard to find good food without this ingredient, I say it from experience.
The meat production
A well- known issue, which problem is due to the fact of releasing huge quantities of methane, a gas composed with twenty-three molecules of CO2, which means is even worse than C02 itself. In addition, the production of meat also requires more 50 times resources, like water and land than the production of vegetables and fruit. Again, this demands a change in people’s behavior, there is no need to stop eating meat now forever, but reduce considerably the amount we eat, so instead of eating meat every day, try eating three times per week. Remember, the most important rule, reduce our consumption. We hear most people saying that they can’t live without meat, but that is not true, because there are amazing vegetarian substitutes that people should really try instead of saying they don’t like it. So, buy tofu or seitan and make it with mushrooms, spices and tomatoes sauce and you definitely won’t regret it. There are various options, we just need to look for it and try them. People can’t just ignore this reality, if we need to change, we have to start now and starts in our food habits, despite the fact human beings hate to change habits, the effort must be done for a greater achievement, the well-being of our planet.
The last one to present, yet definitely as important as the others. For the last few years everything has been wrapped up in plastic and now it seems no one knows how to live without it, although 60 years ago there wasn’t so much plastic being use, and life was fine.
We need to stop accepting plastic glasses and plates, we have to deny plastic bags, we have to try to buy food that is not wrapped in plastic, and if we buy bananas understand there is no need for a plastic bag to carry them, the same goes to other products. Until big companies follow the example of Ikea, that recently announce that is going to stop selling disposal plastic, it’s in people’s hands to show they don’t want more plastic.
This material, besides being made from fossil fuels, which is another reason to leave it once and for all, has been making big damages in our environment. By 2050, the oceans will have more plastic than fish in the sea. As we know, fish and other beings consume this plastic, and the chemicals and particulars of it stays with them, and if we do eat them it transfers to us too, in behalf of all of us being connected in this big chain. But, we don’t even have to go so deep, just the fact that takes decades to decay has already allowed the existence of 3 amounts of plastic that are three times the size of France.
Thus, none of this is a far away problem, that doesn’t affect us, because every problem related to our planet it will always affect us, as long as we depend on it to live.
These are just some of the reasons that are contributing to the environmental crisis we are facing today, which results in high temperatures- the global temperature has already rise almost 1ºC above the normal values, which has an enormous impact on the stability of the climate and the way we keep on going it won’t stop here, it will achieve much higher values and the effects are devastating. Other consequence is the ice melting in Antarctica, as the release of the methane kept in it, then the rise of the level of the oceans, leading to the disappearance of islands and parts of countries near the sea and the lack of resources and land, which populations need to survive.
The first places to feel more these extreme effects will be the poorest like India, Africa and Bangladesh, the ones that have already lack of resources and conditions. However, this brings another huge problem: more emigrant crisis and conflicts. Most of this countries’ population will have the urge to emigrate to countries that still have resources, and so the refugee crisis we hear about today will only get bigger. All these issues show how important is this matter to the ones living in this planet, because the price we and other species have to pay is unbearable.
We are living a very unstable political period, and when it comes to this issue, we may feel that the ones in power are the ones that can make the change and they are not willing to do. However, the changes/ revolutions our society has been through is due to a great deal of people creating movements to fight for some greater cause and from that society change and consequently the government decisions do to. By looking in our history, we can see that the biggest conquest we made are because of the will and unity of people, and this situation requires exactly the same. Together, we can fight for our planet, but everyone has to do their part!
Let’s not lose hope and act on it, otherwise we are doomed and quitters for giving up our beautiful planet. We have to be realistic and see that we have this huge problem and we must move to get out of it, since we don’t see the most powerful countries or the majority of big companies doing it. For example, the Paris Agreement was a big step for all the countries to take action for our environment, but we know that some did not go through of it, like the USA that has withdrawal from it. This mean, that we are the ones that have to take the lead, so that things can change, as history has shown us several times.
In conclusion, I challenge everyone to reflect in their habits, to start being aware of the choices they make and its consequences. For the right to have a future, we need to try to reduce this effects in order to the planet earth reach a stable climate again, like the specialist Piers Sellers said it was possible, but unless all of us act for it, it will not be possible, and the time is counting.
From the bottom to the to the top, we must go!
Leonor de Azevedo Tavares
Leonor Tavares is a second-year law student in University of Lisbon’s School of Law. She was born and has been living in Lisbon ever since, which is a great place to take hold of different opportunities in order to pursue her achievements. Although, she is studying law and has discover her fascination for Human Rights and the possibility of making the world a more fair place, she is also passionate about politics, music, swimming, photography and travelling. In her opinion the best way to discover yourself and the world you live in is by travelling as much as you can.