Celebrities have the ability to bring attention to issues they find important – from helping starving children to ensuring you feel pressure to buy things you don’t need. In recent history celebrities have changed the discourse on important issues, but when it comes to the climate crisis they come across as powerless. That’s OK, because the people actually making a difference are on the ground and helping their friends make changes.
The most powerful climate “influencers” of today are not celebrities who have achieved fame and then used their platform to deliver some wan cliché about “being nice to the planet.” They’re ordinary people — mostly young women — who are alarmed about the climate crisis and demand world leaders pay more attention to it. In environmental circles, their activism has made them celebrities, not the other way around.
“I think that people my age are just kind of done listening to people who are on red carpets all the time, and then post one picture of a turtle on the side,” said Jamie Margolin, the 17-year-old co-founder of youth climate group Zero Hour. “They’re getting sick of fakeness, and with the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s not enough to have it as your side thing. People are more drawn to influencers whose whole thing is tackling the climate crisis.”
As the climate crisis continues there are many ways that we all can try to slow it down. The biggest changes need to happen at the political level enforcing sustainable practices, in the meantime there are things you can do as an individual. The easiest thing to do is buy less and switch to low-carbon transit; however, there is even more options ahead of you. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration then the Guardian has you covered! They recently ran an article looking at some peopel who have already converted to a low-carbon lifestyle.
All our vegetables are seasonal, grown either in our garden or on a local organic farm. My meals are 80% vegan, and 20% vegetarian. Vegan food is delicious – it’s a cuisine.
I try to reuse and repair my belongings. I use the money I save to spend more on products I do buy. My clothes are either secondhand or organic. I have a Fairphone – it’s designed so that the individual parts can be easily replaced when they break. I don’t buy wrapping paper, I reuse an old duvet cover I cut up into squares.
In total, we’ve reduced our home’s carbon emissions by 93%. I’ve enjoyed making all these changes – they’ve been fun – and I feel part of a big movement. I want to be able to say to the next generation: I tried to prevent runaway climate change. If I didn’t, I would feel I was committing a wrong.”
You already know you’re working too many hours, so let’s change that and save the planet in the process. Economic growth has physical limits and we’re hitting those already as we run out of finite resources, or those resources are getting harder and harder to reach like oil. So to maintain growth we need to switch to a renewable energy based economy and fast. We can also just work less and focus on decreasing the growth of consumer capitalism.
This is where the idea of degrowth comes in. Degrowing our economy focuses on getting rid of things awe don’t need and are incredibly destructive to the environment (like fast fashion) and focusing our attention to bettering society as a whole (like free daycare). Another way to degrowth the economy is to reduce our working weeks to produce more jobs and give everybody more leisure. Aren’t we all working for the weekend anyway?
To get emissions to zero, it will involve a kind of “degrowth,” but one targeted specifically at fossil-fuel consumption. “That doesn’t mean we have to degrow everything,” Pollin said. “We really need to degrow the fossil fuel industry to zero, but massively expand the clean energy systems, the investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.” This is essentially the Green New Deal: a push to increase renewable energy while eliminating fossil fuels, and including an effort to create a just transition for the people who have jobs in that sector.
To Pollin, even this would be a radical improvement. A plan to get to zero carbon emissions in 30 years would mean shutting down one of the world’s most powerful industries. He thinks that that is ambitious enough without trying to implement other broad societal changes.
“If we take the climate science seriously, we only have a few decades to make huge progress,” Pollin said. “And whether I like it or not, we’re not going to overthrow capitalism in that time.”
Climate change can’t be ignored anymore. Every year we see an increase in deaths directly related to climate change from flooding to heat waves. Young people are inheriting a planet that is facing mass extinction due to the damage previous generations have done to the planet and the “kids” these days aren’t going to take it. These educated youth are standing up and demanding policies to protect the environment now because those policy changes should have happened before they were even born.
Good for these people standing up and demanding that we have clean air and water for years to come.
Aina Koide, 21, Tokyo, Japan
“Why don’t we cooperate to protect nature from climate change? It would be the first time all people on the Earth united together.”
What have you learned from taking part in the strikes? I realised how negative the image of strikes and protests are in Japan. But I also saw plenty of students who are eager to take action to save the Earth. Can you talk about the idea of climate justice? It means that we need to consider developing countries, future generations and non-human creatures, instead of just focusing on developed countries. Developed countries like Japan should take responsibility. What’s the strike movement like in Japan? Is it growing? At the first action only 20 people participated, but at the second one 130 people were there. It’s still much smaller than other countries but it’s growing and we now gather not only in Tokyo but also in Kyoto. It’s becoming bigger and bigger. For the second gathering we walked around Shibuya so I think the #FridaysForFuture movement has become better known. How does climate change currently affect Japan? In 2018, a heat wave swept the country from July to September, resulting in more than 80,000 people being taken to hospital and many people died. In western Japan, torrential rains killed at least 100 people. These events made me realise that climate change undoubtedly affects this country.
A UN report released today reveals that 1 million species are threatened with extinction thanks to human actions (as in you). The most effective thing we can do is vote out politicians who hate the future, but that takes time and we need to act now. Immediately you can stop buying from water-destroying corporations like Nestle or, if you own a lawn, kill it. This might seem like an odd idea at first; however, once you stop and think about what a lawn is you will find that they are bad for the planet.
Seriously, if you want to stop the mass die off of species and you own land then make that land supportive of local species instead of a monument to human hubris.
A lawn filled with native plants provides habitat for animals, from insects to birds and everything in between. A lawn that’s used to produce food could feed your family, boost neighborhood-level community, and provide jobs (if you don’t have a green thumb). When you run the numbers, it turns that almost anything is better than a grass lawn — except pavement.
My lawn’s days as a grass-based environmental scourge are numbered. I have big plans for my outdoor area: Fruit trees, garden space, native plants. It’s small enough that this project should be manageable, even for a single parent with two small kids.