August 9, 2021
By Elena Zevallos
“Sustainability is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.”
This comment made by author, producer, and podcast host Darin Olien in our Santa Barbara Sustainability Symposium last year (watch the full recording here) perfectly encapsulates the reality of our situation today.
This year, we’ve seen extreme weather patterns that have proven to be some of the worst in centuries. Heatwaves in the Northwestern United States and British Columbia shattered record highs this summer while violent flash floods in regions of China and Western Europe and wildfires across the Western United States, Turkey, and Greece have destroyed communities - all of which are expected to intensify in the coming years. The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report states that if there is no action taken on a worldwide scale to avoid hitting the 1.5°C global average temperature increase by 2030, we face unprecedented climate disasters. As we all know, one of the primary actions behind this shift is for nations, industries, and corporations to reduce or entirely cut off coal, oil and natural gas usage.
During last year’s worldwide pandemic lockdown, cities saw a massive adjustment from their typical polluted atmosphere to cleaner, healthier air. This serves as an example of how quickly we can clean up our atmosphere. The IPCC states that global emissions cut significantly within the next ten years could ramp up cleaner air and stabilize global temperatures within 20 to 30 years. How hopeful is that, if only we could all do our part - small or large - to speed up this transition.
You hear it every day: we don’t have much leverage to control the decisions made by higher powers, but we have the ability to make independent and small-scale ones. As I’ve written in numerous blog articles here, there’s a list of things we can do to reduce our individual human impact. We can minimize car transportation by riding a bike, taking the bus, or even walking. We can compost, plant a tree, use less plastic, reduce waste and conserve water. We can go vegan and only eat local, organic foods. But this also goes beyond saving a straw at a time. At this rate, sizable action is needed on an individual level, too. We can avoid, and even boycott, companies that exacerbate climate change. We can be a louder voice in the workplace or community on how to implement alternative, sustainable options. We can sign petitions and support organizations that strive to make environmental change. We can vote for a greener future - whether that’s through a ballot or with our dollar.
But first, research and educate yourself! There’s so much credible information out there to help you take steps that can contribute to larger, global-scale change. If we heighten our awareness around our environmental impacts and lead our lives from this mentality, we will undoubtedly make a change.
This blog is geared towards elevating the level of seriousness around climate change. If we all looked at this issue the same way, the momentum needed to propel instant action might escalate significantly. Start off by joining our free online campaign, which changes frequently as we construct new, creative ideas to help our local community make headway towards a more Earth-centered future. And - we have an exciting new one going live soon, so stay tuned!