Big Smile, No Teeth: 4 ways to survive a climate change crisis


  • Environment
  • Wednesday, 17 Oct 2018

It’s not everyday we get news about the end of the world, but that’s exactly what we got last week.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel On Climate issued a warning that we could be thrust into a global crisis by 2040. This catastrophe is due to climate change, of course, which they report will raise temperatures by as much as 1.5°C by that time.

At this point, coral reefs will no longer exist and the recent spate of global temperatures reaching record highs, causing the worst forest fires in decades along with flooding, storms and drought, will only intensify and change the planet as we know it.

OK, it might not be the end of the world per se, but it will be the end of life as we know it.

So what exactly is happening since that report? Not much at all.

Comedian and famed tweeter Patton Oswalt nailed it when he posted: “Dear CNN, MSNBC, FOXNEWS, NYTIMES, Washingtonpost, VICE – This. This is all you have to cover from now on. You know how in the meteor movies the news is JUST about the meteor? This is the meteor. Coming right for us. In our lifetimes.”

And in what could be one of my proudest moments, I called climate change an asteroid headed Earth, right after the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, in this very column!

I wrote that “climate change isn’t an alien invasion we can punch in the face, and that’s too bad”, because a lot of people would get behind that. We’d appoint a team of scientists and get The Rock himself to do the thumping.

That’s not what’s happening now, because the solution isn’t so simple. We’re not living in a film where a hero rises to save the world. We’re living the movie where we all collectively have to make changes in our lives, so that we and our children can continue living.

This is the flick where the planet dies because humans decide to do nothing. It’s not as dramatic or exciting a movie to watch, but it’s definitely a tragedy.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by climate change, global warming, and news that Earth is pretty much done for in about... oh, 22 years, then here are four ways you can act right now!

Eat Less Meat

This is a big one. Meat – beef, in particular – is very wasteful and uses a lot of resources to create. It's a huge contributor of methane emissions, which is produced by large groupings of animals. Basically, flatulence isn’t helping to save our world.

Eating less meat is an easy thing to do. In fact, studies show that less meat is better for your health, so it’s a win-win.

world bicycle day

Cycle Or Walk

I know this is rough in an environment like Malaysia, but it’s something to think about. Obviously it’s better because you’re not creating more vehicle emissions, but if cycling or walking isn’t possible for every trip, make fewer car trips!

Hold meetings over Skype. Campaign your boss to let employees work from home a couple days a week – for the sake of the environment! That’s a win-win too if you can pull it off.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling is great, but you may not be near facilities to make that happen. The next best thing, perhaps even better, is reduce. Just buy less. Consume less fast food and fewer bottled drinks. There items bring us a moment of convenience in exchange for decades of burden to the environment.

Rethink these purchases, or don’t make them at all! Carry a water bottle. Eat at home. This will save the environment and save you money.

Get With Like-Minded People And Do Something Together 

What's happening with climate change is too important to tackle alone. Join your local environmental movement. Be part of a bigger movement that will educate you, mobilise you and team you with dozens, hundreds, thousands of people equally concerned for the future.

Climate change isn’t a disaster that can or will be solved by one single person. It’s a situation that should be answered by all of us working for a collective good. Or it won’t be resolved at all.

Jason Godfrey's biggest career advice from a photographer was "Big smile. No teeth." He works in fashion, television, and his latest book "Catwalk Fail" is out now. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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