In a recent article in The Conversation, marine biologist Rick Stafford of Bournouth University and Peter JS Jones, Reader in Environmental Governance at UCL provided six valid system changes to address climate change and ensure our more easeful adaptation.
System change, they suggest, may sound scary, “but as the current system drives social injustice and environmental destruction, a new approach to address both is called for,” they argue. Stafford and Jones suggest six key ways to help build that new system which can also improve people’s lives in the process. These include:
- Less focus on economic growth: pursuit of economic growth drives a wasteful use of scarce resources and excessive waste. Stafford and Jones suggest other indices that better measure societal well-being such as the Human Development Index and Genuine Progress Indicator. They do not, however, mention the Index of Happiness—a ranking that suggests a more accurate measure of well-being.
- Higher taxes and subsidised transport: Stafford and Jones argue that a substantially higher tax on environmentally damaging products would help turn everyday (environmentally damaging) items—such as air travel, fossil fuels, and red meat—into luxury items. Subsidized environmentally sound alternatives would help promote a more environmentally healthy lifestyle.
- Work less: working less would translate into less commuting, more time to cook healthy food, and less over-consumption of “luxury” goods that drive economic growth without adding value to society. The four-day work week together with a universal basic income would promote mental health and reduce social inequality.
- Think locally: local and regional examples such as farming, energy production, and waste disposal are more likely candidates for people to understand and take action on. Local operations such as small-scale coastal fisheries or farms can provide a highly sustainable alternative to the giant agri-corporations and industrial fishing.
- Learn about nature and look after it: Stafford and Jones write, “There is a disconnect from the natural world, exemplified even in academic and policy circles with the monetisation of nature through ecosystem services and how they contribute to human well-being – by providing food, water, wood and medicines, for example. All of which, puts a price on nature – by defining the Earth’s resources as natural capital.”…“We need to appreciate nature for what it is – and protect it now. Teaching natural history in schools is a good place to start. Protecting, restoring and rewilding ecosystems on a large scale will also enhance biodiversity, store carbon and reduce pollution – three of the major environmental planetary boundaries – or safe environmental limits – we have greatly exceeded.”
- Don’t just rely on technology: “Technological advances such as renewable energy, electric vehicles and smart cities are important steps to reduce our carbon emissions. But they are not the only “solution” to climate change,” write Stafford and Jones.
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in May 2020.