climate strike

Six actual, bona fide experts on the 7 best things you can do to fight climate change.

Today, millions of people around the world are striking for climate change.

They’re demanding climate justice and an end to the age of fossil fuels.

The statistics are scary, the science is overwhelming. It’s a lot.

So what can you (yes, you) do about climate change? Let’s assume you’re already sipping from a keep cup, bringing your own bag and recycling like a legend. What else can you actually do?

Leading the charge is 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg. Post continues after video.

Video by United Nations

Mamamia asked that question of some of the top scientists and conservationists in Australia, and here are their answers on what you can do right now to help tackle this global emergency.

1. Fly less.

Greta Thunberg’s all over this one – travelling by boat or train whenever she can. And so is Dr Fanny Thornton, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Canberra.

“I have stopped going to international conferences just for the sake of it,” she says of her own work travel. “I will only go if I can combine it with other university business, or go to domestic conferences. I was in Europe recently on university business and I took the train to a conference for a very long journey instead of a plane. It was good to see that my university supported the higher cost involved.”

2. Insist on ‘new’ energy options every chance you get.

“The most important thing to stop making the problem worse is to reduce burning fossil fuels,” says Roslyn Gleadow, Professor of Plant Sciences at Monash University.

“Here are three ways you can do that:

“For those who can afford it, get solar panels, get a battery to store power and switch to an electric car. I’ve gradually done all those things over the past 10 years,” says Professor Gleadow. “It isn’t cheap – for us it was an ethical choice. A huge side benefit is that when those of us who do have the option to do these things do so, the cost will come down so that it becomes more affordable for others. We now buy very little power. If you’re a landlord, put solar panels on your rental and insulate the house – that will reduce the overall carbon footprint and save your tenant some money. Also, if there are a lot of electric cars on the road, then governments will be forced to improve infrastructure for them. If you can’t afford an electric car, think about driving something a bit smaller, with a smaller engine and not 4WD.

climate change strike
Students from all over Switzerland and from several European countries striked for immediate action against climate change in Lausanne earlier this year. Image: Getty.
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"Plant a tree. Trees suck carbon dioxide out of the air and store it in their wood.  If you don't have room for a tree, join a "friends of" group for your local park and plant one there.

"And buy locally grown food. You can reduce your carbon footprint for next to no cost is by reducing the carbon miles of your food. It also has the added benefit of supporting Australian farmers as they transition to new types of agriculture, which is a huge investment.

How do you know it's Australian? Look for the barcode on your frozen peas, cheese, or berries - a 93 at the beginning means it is more likely to be Australian product but it is not foolproof so you should look for 'grown and packed in Australia' not just 'packed in Australia.'"

3. Work less

Easier said than done, but Dermot O'Gorman, the CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia, says it just might save the world.

"If possible, cut down to a four-day work week. Working less lowers your carbon footprint."

4. Talk to everyone who'll listen about saving the Great Barrier Reef

"The best thing everyone can do right now to combat climate change is to amplify your voice by talking with friends, family and colleagues to promote positive change in your circle of influence and be more informed on environmental policies," says Peter Mumby, Great Barrier Reef Foundation Chief Scientist..

"Tell your network how important the Reef is and what they can do to help protect it. This will range from individual behaviours to reduce your carbon footprint as well as exercising your democratic rights to support policies that you support."

Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo speak to a 15-year-old girl who organised a school walk out for climate change. Post continues after podcast.

5. Listen to kids and watch the doco 2040

WWF Australia's Dermot O'Gorman says, "Listen to your children, niece, nephew, or grandchild they know what you need to do and will hold you to account when the going gets tough.

"And watch the documentary 2040 as a reminder that there’s plenty of hope and solutions out there if we want to seize them."

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6. Pressure our Government to acknowledge that emissions matter

"Without urgent, significant and sustained reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions, we will commit the world to many metres of sea level rise, impacting hundreds of millions of people," so says Professor John Church, sea level and ocean climate expert at UNSW and Australian Academy of Science fellow. "We need to be carbon neutral by 2050."

"We can drastically reduce our emissions by improving energy efficiency, urgent investment in renewable energies and phasing out coal, oil and gas fired power stations, electrification of transport, protection and strengthening of natural carbon sinks, and definitely no new coal mines or coal fired power stations.

climate change strike
Swiss youth at the 2019 Youth strike 4 climate which happened in early August. Image: Getty.

"We have the technology, which will of course improve and become cheaper over time, as already demonstrated. What we lack is the will to care for our children’s future and the strength to overcome narrow, short-term vested interests."

And, look, we don't know how to tell you this.... 

7. Gulp... Don't Have Children.

Look, it's too late for some of us, but Professor Corey J.A BradshawMatthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology says that Birth Strike has the right idea. 

"A lifestyle choice you can make to combat climate change right now, is not having a child or at least not having big families. By [having kids] you're compounding your lifetime emissions via your generational legacy.

"There are a lot of personal benefits, your average lifetime standard of living goes up and you generally can make better choices for the environment as a whole because you have a better opportunity to do so. Every extra child compounds that. It also ticks other boxes like overpopulation."

Sorry about all these babies, Professor Bradshaw.

Click here for more on the climate strike.

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