It’s often the small things that can effect change, but when it comes to the climate, is it ever enough?
I remember when I was about six years old, sitting in an assembly at school and being scared stupid about climate change. Our passionate, eco-friendly teacher thought it would be a sensible idea to let us know, at such an impressionable age, that we would see the end of the world in our lifetime. There was no uncertainty in her voice, it was going to happen. There would be flooding, fires, volcanoes, hurricanes, the apocalypse was soon to be upon us and there was nothing we could do about it. Our only option was to delay it a little, to put it off for a few more generations, and to do this we had to recycle like crazy, never drive a car, never leave a tap running, always turn off the lights and so many more I lost track. I was never sure if she truly believed in all this or just wanted to scare us, but it worked; till this day I am paranoid about global warming. I recycle everything, I walk everywhere, or use public transport, most of my clothes come from charity shops, and I keep all electricity to a minimum, refusing to even turn on my heating until my dozens of blankets and jumpers become insufficient. However these little actions are so engrained in my everyday life, that I no longer feel like I’m doing enough.
Climate change is a very real and present threat, one that I’m becoming increasingly worried about, but I’ve really struggled in knowing how to do more. And then I traveled to South Africa. The community that I lived and worked in survived on so little, and yet they were the most content people I’ve ever met; they inspired me and I knew I should make more of an effort to simplify my life. I’ve now cut down on packaged foods; have my hot water on for only an hour a day; grow my own herbs; plant bee friendly flowers; and I’m making a call for my peers to do the same. I may not do anything dramatic, but I believe that encouraging more people to become conscious of their ways will help more than we know. I’m also participating in more campaigns against climate change, including attempts to get government and big organisations to take action.
We may not notice the effects of climate change here in the UK but it can have disastrous effects, usually in developing countries. I was able to witness some of this during my time in South Africa. I stayed in an area called Tugela Ferry, where each winter their climate gets drier and drier. I was out there for nearly three months and I saw it rain once. It was such a big issue out there that a lot of households didn’t have access to running water, including part of my team. There is a river alongside the town but as it dried up we saw crops and wildlife perish. It was a harsh reality, one that I wasn’t expecting but it has pushed me further into pursuing solutions for the problem. My hope is that COP21 will spark the change we need and we will see the difference in our surroundings over the coming years.
Featured image by epSos .de via Flickr/Creative Commons