What is your legacy?

Jacqui van Heerden

When you leave this planet – what legacy will you leave behind from your actions?

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report in August, which is a comprehensive assessment of the physical science of climate change and states there is a narrow path to avoiding climate catastrophe, but only through immediate, deep and sustained emissions reductions.

The report is years in the making and draws from a new generation of highly advanced climate models and scenarios. It is the work of literally hundreds of scientists from around the world and is put through an extraordinarily rigorous process of review.

The findings are very clear and simple – we need to cease activities that emit carbon (reduce emissions to as close to zero as possible) and we need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

It took me awhile before I could bring myself to read the findings, as I wanted to avoid feeling despair and responsibility.

However, I need to face the reality and ask myself the difficult question – what am I doing, what part am I playing in the climate catastrophe?

I cannot rely on our government and big business benefitting from the status quo to make any real change.

I, as an individual, living in a first world country enjoy privilege, choice and freedom to act. I have agency and power through my money, voice and actions to help bring down carbon and cease supporting carbon emission activities.

A simple question to ask is – is this action of mine, earn and spend of my dollar, going to contribute to creating carbon emissions or removing CO2 from the atmosphere? There is enough information around for me to do the maths.

Below are some actions to take now, which will make a difference with minimum effort. Most you don’t need to leave your house for. Are we really at the point where we have to be convinced that we don’t have to get off our arses to help our planet?

Get woke

Notice and become aware of the power you have as an individual. Stop making excuses. In Australia our contribution to carbon emissions is killing people, species and biodiversity.

Change your bank/financial institutions/Investments

Where do you keep your money? Unfortunately, investments in planet-destroying industries such as fossil fuels and mining still reap huge financial returns. If you continue to bank with an institution that operates this way – you are making a clear choice.

Put your money with a bank, like Bank Australia, who refuses to fund industries that contribute to fossil fuels, and your super with an ethical super fund.

Imagine if 40 per cent of average Australians transferred their money to an ethical financial institution that did not support the fossil fuel industry – overnight our planet would have a chance, new low carbon or no carbon industries, planet regeneration ideas would have a chance to be funded and invested in appropriately to fix the damage.

Planting a chemical free garden with productive plants, flowers and trees

Healthy soil is the easiest and quickest way to bring back carbon to the earth. Trees and plants take in CO2.

Clive Blazey founder of The Diggers Club in the September 2021 issue of the Diggers magazine said, “If we revert back to managing the sun’s free energy and free carbon by using plants, we can sequester (appropriate) enough carbon to increase soil organic matter by 1 per cent which will bring down ten tonnes of carbon per acre, helping bring down carbon back down to earth to ensure the future of our planet.”

If you don’t have space to plant ask neighbours, councils, private business owners if you can plant a tree in spare land. There are enough vacant, unloved bare, little plots of land everywhere in the inner city of Melbourne.

Plant trees while you search the web. Change your search engine to Ecosia which uses the profit they make from searches to plant trees where they are needed most.  They have planted over 133 million trees over 9000 sites.

8 Billion trees is a carbon-offset company that runs large scale planting operations in the Amazon rainforest. By supporting them you directly fund the conservation and planting of trees in a critical area.

Set up your own compost and/or use local community compost hubs

Take responsibility for your own organic food scraps. The high carbon footprint in having your organic waste trucked out and processed in a factory each week is unnecessary and negligent when we are facing climate havoc.

Be a “clicktivist”

Donate to Environmental Justice Climate Council activities. Getup and Avaaz and organisations direct activities that focus on stopping carbon emission activity and bring down carbon. Sign petitions which call for direct action.

This is not a comprehensive list – If you could do but one of these you are making a difference.

When your grandchild asks you in the future – “You know during the time when the world was facing a climate crisis, what did you do?”

How will you answer?

What will be your legacy? •

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