Since June 2019 there has been a significant number of wildfires burning across Australia. The damage has been estimated at 18.6 million hectares of land burnt, almost 6 000 buildings destroyed, at least 29 people dead and about a billion animals killed with a great deal of species driven close to extinction.
I heard about the wildfires in late December when Australia has been already burning for half a year. I was devastated. I felt powerless and honestly – scared. Our climate has taken a drastic turn and the average temperatures have been rising too quickly for us to withstand. The greenhouse gasses emission is bigger than ever before. Not to mention the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Earth is running out of time as at the current rate of warming the planet risks a disastrous future. I felt hopeless.
But then I opened the Internet and saw something that helped me restore my hope. I saw people posting about the tragedy and uniting to donate money to organizations like the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, and RSPCA Australia. Famous personages all around the world have already donated millions to help the victims and brave firefighters. I noticed that people around me were finally open to conversations about the environment. I realized: this isn’t the time to be scared and sad – this is the time to act. This is the time to change. We should use these tragic events as a motivation, as a discussion opener. We can’t change the world, but we can all start with ourselves.
There’s a lot we can do. Not many people realize this, but livestock farming is the biggest greenhouse gas emitting industry (more than the entire transportation sector). Farm animals emit a noxious amount of CO2, methane gas, and excrement that pollute air and waterways. Scientists report that methane is more than 84 times as effective as carbon dioxide is at trapping heat in our atmosphere. Furthermore, agriculture and animal rearing devour 70% freshwater and account for over 80% of global deforestation. Agriculture is the main land use, but the harvest is not cultivated for humans, but the livestock. The Earth currently has about 70 billion farm animals, together they weigh more than humans and all other wild animals combined. If we all cut out just a couple of meat meals in a week, it would be a game-changer. Scientists estimate that by 2050, dietary changes could save several million square kilometers of land and cut down global CO2 emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year.
We are facing a massive problem with coal-based energy in Poland. To help prevent global warming consider powering your home with renewable energy and switching to LED bulbs. Many students in our school wanted to speak up about this problem and went out on the streets of Gliwice to protest. The climate strike took place on the 29th of November when young people fought for the future of their home. Students manifested and on some of their sings you could see catchwords like “The Earth won’t save itself”, “We’re skipping lessons to teach you one!”. They went on strike not only against coal-based energy, air pollution in Gliwice but also against a consumer lifestyle. The strike was a general success and the youth met with the president of the city who listened as they expressed their outcry.
There are a lot of simple changes we can make that are going to have a big influence. Choosing public transportation, cycling but also electric mobility as a way of transportation. Taking your own shopping bag. Buying products from local businesses. Rethinking another fast fashion t-shirt or going to the thrift store. It’s the small things that matter. The number one priority is educating and spreading awareness about this crisis. Although we are running out of time, we can still make things right.
This is an article written by me for the “IB Review”