What can you do to help in Australia?

Australia is one of the highest polluters per capita in the world. Small changes to everyday life can make a difference to this.

Everyday Action for Climate Change
Car Travel Reduced travel time. More efficient Car. http://www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au/GVGPublicUI/Home.aspx
Water Heating Shorter showers. Wash clothes in cold water.
Electronic Appliances Use electronic appliances less. Turn off switches at the wall to avoid electricity use in standby mode.
Heating and Cooling Dress for the weather, so less temperature control is needed. Heat/cool only the rooms being used. Set to highest temperature tolerable for cooling and lowest temperature tolerable for heating.
Refrigeration Keep fridge in cool place. Open the door as little as possible
Waste Production Put up a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign. Use reusable shopping bags. Recycle Compost.

As important as making changes on your own, is encouraging others to do the same, and informing them of the problems that climate change is causing and will cause in the future. This is something that can be done in the course of everyday life but also through events such as Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a movement that started in Sydney and has spread to over 162 countries since its beginning in 2007. It aims to get people involved in making changes to stop global warming, and to spread awareness of the issues. It involves everyone participating turning off all their lights for an hour on the chosen night. This year there has been a focus on the effects of climate change on the country’s farmers and food production.

To learn more about this event click on the links.

https://earthhour.org.au/more/

Earth Hour documentary about climate change and food production.

http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/appetite-for-change/2015/3/appetite-for-change

Changes to weather patterns and climate that affect crop production have huge effects on the livelihoods of farmers. This is another way climate change affects our health. Changes to income security, uncertainty about the future and mental health effects caused by climate change are social determinants of health, meaning they contribute to the overall health or lack of health of a person. To help farmers in Australia there are many organisations that take donations and provide support. Some also organise the direct selling of Australian produce to buyers, this means more money and business goes to the farmers, helping to ensuring their futures and the future of Australian food production.

http://www.aussiefarmersfoundation.org.au/

http://www.aussiehelpers.org.au/

http://greens.org.au/helping-farmers-sell-direct

Eating nutritious food is hugely important to health. The cost and availability of fresh, healthy food is affected by climate change. This is because of increased rates of drought and flood, changing spread of pests and increased water needs of plants. The increased cost and decreased availability of fresh food in areas of Australia, as mentioned in a previous post, affects the health of people living in these places because it increases rates of unhealthy eating. This increases biomedical risk factors, as well as social risk factors of disease such as economic pressure, mental stress and other determinants of health. For these reasons it is important to make an effort to eat healthily even in these circumstances. There are guides produced by the government and health conscious people that detail how to eat healthily and how to do it on a budget. Click on the links to read more.

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/tips-budget-buying  global health pic http://nutritionmattersdietitian.com.au/resources/ Continue reading

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What can you do? The Power of Education

There are simple measures that you can take in reducing your carbon footprint and avoid contributing to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

  1. Walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving a car.
  2. If you require a car to get somewhere where a bicycle or walking is simply not feasible, consider the options of electrical powered or hybrid cars. Or car pool.
  3. Take part in tree planting! Trees help recycle carbon dioxide (a green house gas) and produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

Lets be honest, we can do more than that.

A significant challenge of combating climate change is the apathetic attitudes of many individuals, borne of the belief that their individual actions are insignificant when placed against the immense task at hand. Consequently, with the belief that their actions are trivial, many adopt the apathetic attitude. I must say that I have been there and I have done that. I used to dismiss climate change because I thought that as a nobody, I could not bring about a change. It is this apathetic attitude that is hampering the progress in reversing climate change.

We need individuals to believe that no action is insignificant, especially when the smallest of effort is necessary to tackle the issue of climate change. Individuals have to be educated and equipped with the knowledge and skills to mitigate and ideally, reverse the effects of climate change. From the smallest actions such as informing another of the intricacies of climate change (our blog is here to help you with it!) to being advocates on a global scale. No action is too minimal to be dismissed. After all, all of us are responsible for climate change in more ways that we believe we are.

Here is an encouraging example of many efforts put together to achieve a enormous outcome. Efforts to manage climate change began in 1987 with the ‘Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer’, an international treaty signed by countries to pledge their reduction in production and consumption of ozone depleting substances, and protecting the ozone layer. The ozone layer is critical in absorbing most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, preventing the Earth’s surface from reaching damagingly high temperatures. Previously, the abundance of these ozone depleting substances had damaged the ozone layer and posed catastrophic threats on the survival of countless organisms on Earth. Thankfully, since the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, a reduction of 98% in these substances have been observed and the ozone layer is projected to heal in the next 40-50 years. This is evidence that if the human species rallied together, we can produce a desired change!

The takeaway message of that hopefully inspirational example is that you should not disregard the power that you wield, the moment you are equipped with the knowledge to educate others.

Here are some steps that can help you get there.

  1. Get rid of that apathetic attitude!
  2. Equip yourself with information related to climate change and ways that one can participate in combating climate change.
  3. Get out, spread the word, educate the wider public. This does not necessitate standing atop a podium and giving a speech in front of national television. Small acts such as educating your neighbour, or friend, or the random guy on the street work just as well. Imagine the snow ball effect when you manage to convince one, and that one convinces another, and the list goes on. Think about the resulting exponential increase in the population of climate change advocates!

3 simple steps, and we are going to help you with step 2. With a global crisis such as climate change, we need every effort to combat it.

Resources to educate yourself on climate change and subsequently to aid in your education of others:

  1. A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change

http://www.epa.gov/climate/climatechange/students/index.html

  1. Combating Global Warming: Simple Action Steps

http://www.bitrebels.com/lifestyle/combating-global-warming-simple-action-steps/

  1. ABCs of Climate Change

http://www.justearth.net/abcs-climate-change

More information on the Montreal Protocol:

http://ozone.unep.org/Publications/MP_Handbook/MP-Handbook-2012.pdf

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The World’s Stance on Climate Change and its Associated Measures

There are individuals who genuinely believe that climate change is a myth or a government conspiracy. There are also government officials who, though they do not forthrightly deny the issue of climate change, through their actions and policies have adopted stances that aggravate the urgent situation that we already face. By way of illustration, Mr Abbott’s efforts to exclude climate change as a core economic and government issue that needs to be addressed shows his stance on climate change as a less significant issue.

Combatting climate change is an uphill task that needs to be addressed now. As I have elucidated in the previous posts, everyone – regardless of geography, wealth, socioeconomic status etc. – are affected by climate change, it is just the degree of impacts that vary. I have illustrated that it is the poorest countries that are the primary recipients of the harshest impacts of climate change and the resulting food scarcity, and that we have to act to secure a better future for the generations to come.

Despite the climate change denialists, it is assuring to see their numbers shrink, and more individuals are aware of the colossal task ahead. Leaders of highly influential countries such as President Obama of the United States, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Xi Jinping of China are drawing attention to climate change issues by raising them in forums. Consequently, climate change has been made a focus on the global arena.

In what is considered revolutionary in the arduous path of slowing and reversing climate change, President Obama and President Xi announced a joint commitment, just before the G20 summit, to reduce carbon emissions beyond 2025. Furthermore, to aid poorer countries with coping with climate change, President Obama has pledged US$3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. These leaders have also urged other countries to act on climate change.

The United Nations have also made ensuring environmental sustainability one of the Millennium Development Goals. Specifically:

To “Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources” (Target 7A, United Nations).

As global leaders and organisations pay attentions to climate change, the level of awareness raised will eventually tilt the balance, wherein a greater proportion will strive to address the problem of climate change. That is the primary aim of advocacy, to increase awareness. By targeting the root of the problem – climate change, we will also address the resulting food scarcity.

In addition to recognising the root problem, aid is also given to poorer countries through direct and indirect means. An individual worried about his own survival will not be concerned with climate issues if he is unable to procure his next meal. Food packages are provided directly to areas stricken with severe poverty and food scarcity. Furthermore, funds are provided by banks to allow poorer countries to adopt environmentally sustainable methods of food production and sustenance.

There are many intertwining factors in climate change. Boundaries cannot be distinctly drawn between the different problems, nor can one problem be given more weight and another dismissed. In my personal opinion, I genuinely believe that to tackle climate change, we need a generation of individuals with a mind-set that acknowledges the urgency of climate change and its repercussions. Raising awareness alone is insufficient if an individual is stuck upon his belief of climate change being a conspiracy or that his actions will be too little to make a difference. Education is the most productive way through which we can achieve the greatest benefit to our environment. By means of dissemination of information and skills required, younger generations can be given the tools and the motivation to make a difference.

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What Is Happening In Australia To Reduce The Effects Of Climate Change?

The governments and people of the world have begun to realise that climate change is occurring at an accelerated rate due to our own actions and high rates of carbon emissions. There are many national and international policies and programs being put in place with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and reversing (or at least slowing) the progression of climate change.

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In Australia changes being made focus on reducing carbon emissions, saving water and developing renewable energy sources. The areas of climate change that affect Australia the most include decreasing rainfall and increasing periods of drought. Because of this, the water saving efforts are very important for the future of the country. Other measures such as reducing carbon emissions and developing renewable energy reduce further climate change and hopefully reverse the effects.

Water saving measures are in place at the public, corporate and governmental levels. Public measures include regulations on when sprinklers may be used, the time of day and days of the week.  In times of drought, the regulations increase in order to save even more water. In 2013, 79% of households took at least one step to reduce water usage in the home. However water saving steps in the garden decreased from 71% of households in 2007 to 54% in 2013. Many households have also installed solar panels on their roofs, and this is partly subsidised by the government. Certain hot water systems that reduce energy use by either using solar heating or being more energy efficient are also subsidised by the government.

The government and businesses try and reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Building energy efficiency standards are one way to ensure that this is enacted. Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by mitigation efforts like planting trees. However, this particular method can cause problems through the use of a lot of water. However in some areas it is suitable. The government has also invested in renewable energy sources including solar and wind energy. Australia has one of the best landscapes and climates in the world for solar and wind energy production. In 2011, there were 42 operational wind farms in Australia, 51% of the energy produced came from South Australia. As previously mentioned, the government has subsidised solar panels for houses but more needs to be done in this area. Australia has the highest levels of solar radiation per capita, which means there is huge potential for energy production.

Although more and more energy in Australia comes from renewable energy sources, this increase is not enough to slow or reverse the progression of climate change. If everyone in Australia does not take more of an interest in reducing our carbon footprint then the changes to our climate will begin to affect our lives and health more and more.

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Climate Change Making Australia Unhealthy

Climate change affects the health of people in many ways that are already being seen in areas around the world. CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research) and the Bureau of Meteorology have recorded the following changes in Australia. Average temperatures are hotter than they were in 1910, rainfall has decreased in southern areas of Australia and fires have become more common. It is expected that temperatures will rise further and that rainfall will decrease further. The predictions include more frequent and severe extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, cyclones, storms, fires and heatwaves.

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http://www.2st.com.au/pete-brandtman/81934-australia-is-the-worst-when-it-comes-to-tackling-climate-change

Climate change affects crop production through the changes in CO2 levels, temperature, rainfall and increase in the frequency of extreme weather. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere usually increases the growth rate of plants; but the expected increase in growth is not matched in crops such as wheat. Increases in temperature cause increased water demand of the plants which may cause further difficulties in Australia because of decreasing rainfall. A change in temperature and rainfall can also promote the spread and increase the range of pests, weeds and diseases that decrease crop production. Flooding and drought can also cause the loss of crops. These effects have already been seen in many part of the world, decreasing the production of food. As climate change is predicted to continue affecting Australia it can be expected that crops will be more affected within Australia as well.

The access and affordability of fresh food has already contributed a difference in health outcomes between groups in Australia. A study found that the price of fresh food in remote and very remote areas was higher than in metropolitan areas. More of the remote areas had lower quality produce as well as higher prices. The combination of higher price and lower quality will impact on the amount of fresh food purchased and may therefore lead to unhealthier diets of people in these areas. The consumption of food high in fat and sugar and lacking in fruit and vegetables leads to increased risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity and heart disease. People living in remote areas or who are of low socioeconomic status have higher rates of death and hospitalisation due to cardiovascular disease than people living in metropolitan areas or who are of higher socioeconomic status. If climate change continues to affect Australia it is possible that the price of fresh food will rise because of increased difficulty in growing and maintaining crops, the availability of fresh food would also decrease. This rise in price and decrease in availability could cause more and more people to turn to less healthy alternatives out of necessity, as is already seen in some areas of Australia, and many more people will be at increased risk of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/17/australia-climate-change-report2

It should be a priority of everyone who lives in Australia as well as the government to prevent or at least slow down the progression of climate change for the benefit of everyone. There are many small things that can be done by people every day, such as turning off lights when leaving a room, to decrease Australia’s carbon emissions and preserve our climate and country as much as possible.

For more information about climate change in Australia

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/

http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Climate/Understanding.aspx

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World’s hungriest affected most by rising temperatures.

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Photograph: Warrick Page/Getty Images for UN

Here at home, climate change is affecting crop production in Australia. As a matter of fact, this phenomenon can be extended to the entire world. Climate change is affecting our health statuses, and its immediate impacts can be seen in the risks posed to the world’s food supplies. However, these impacts are the greatest upon the poorest, and consequently, the hungriest populations in the world.

Researchers have confirmed that the current status of climate change is a direct result of human beings’ past and present actions, or at least, Earth’s warming in the last 50 years can be attributed to our actions. The direct causation is so strong, such that a new era is named – the Anthropocene – an epoch that arose as a direct result of the human race’s actions.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Undeniably, climate change is a problem that is brought about by today’s affluent and developed nations. And yet, it is the world’s poorest, that will bear the greatest burden of climate change, simply because they do not have the resources to compete for the decreasing food supply, nor do they have the capacity to remove themselves from their current predisposition – poverty.2Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 6.31.11 pm

In an collective effort to reduce inequalities in the world, the United Nations had formulated the 8 Millennium development goals. Right at the top of the list is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The world has made great strides in doing so. In fact, the target of halving the population living under conditions of extreme poverty has been achieved 5 years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

However, the World Bank has cautioned that climate change can reverse what had been achieved. Increasing surface temperature that causes droughts, floods, extreme weather and rising sea levels can result in crop failure, consequently causing severe destitution in populations that are still living in poverty or are gradually breaking out of the poverty cycle. Increasing food scarcity is one of the first direct consequences of global warming and its effects will be evident in the next two decades.

The richest and the poorest countries live on the same planet, and yet, we face diseases on both extremes of the continuum. The richest countries are plagued with lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, as its people eat more than is required for sustenance. On the other extreme, the poorest countries are perishing as a result of hunger, malnutrition and under-nourishment. These are merely one of the direct causes of unequal statuses in affluence and power. Constantly having to worry about the availability of the next meal hampers economic development and consequently, disallows the poor from obtaining resources to resolve their food issues. And the vicious cycle continues.

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http://www.impoverishedchildren.org/aboutus/

Food scarcity and its negative impacts on health are one of the factors that will affect the poorest. In struggle to survive, many of the poorest people have to resort to desperate measures to procure food. As a matter of fact, military researchers now regard climate change as a security threat. However the situation is not as simple as it first appears, there are many consequences to the health of people other than the obvious lack of food leading to malnutrition and death.

To put it crudely, the worst outcome is death. However, in these poorest regions, not only is the health and well-being of people affected by biomedical factors (poor or non-existent diet), but their psychological welfare is affected by security threats and the constant struggle to survive, their socioeconomic statuses are affected by the poverty cycle and more. It is not as simple as one thinks. The plethora of effects of climate change is multi-faceted, and honestly, it is unbelievable that there are individuals who still believe that climate change is unreal and merely a government conspiracy.

For more information on climate change and its impacts on the world’s poorest:

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