A 101 Lesson on Climate Change And How Conscious Consumption Is Key
We love to talk about sustainable fashion, green beauty and holistic practices that are helping to shape a more culturally conscious world that help motivate consumers to become more environmentally-friendly. We love to boast about brands who are making a difference to help save the planet.
But what exactly is wrong with our planet?
In case you didn’t know, here's a quick lesson for all of our readers…
The short of it is, Mama Earth is in deep trouble! You’ve probably heard the phrase “global warming”, which is the increase of the Earth temperature since the Industrial Revolution. Due to the burning of fossil fuels, green house gas emissions are spiking like crazy. Greenhouse gases are a group of compounds that are able to trap heat (longwave radiation) in the atmosphere, keeping the Earth's surface warmer than it would be if they were not present. The more heat they trap, the warmer our planet gets. The domino effect is a little something called climate change - which is happening because of this abrupt increase in the Earth’s temperature:
Combining the data sets from NOAA and NASA finds:
- The five warmest years in the global record have all come in the 2010
- The 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1998
- The 20 warmest years on record have all come since 1995
Scientist have shown that this spike in temperature is caused by HUMAN ACTIVITY! (Go figure smh)
So let's go back a few years to the Industrial Revolution which explains a lot of these major shifts.
Before the Industrial Revolution, about 80% of the world's population was engaged in farming (AKA the Agricultural Revolution). Manufacturing was often done in people's homes, using hand tools or basic machines.
Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. ( For the purpose of this article, we aren't going to get into the intersections of colonialism, capitalism and globalization, but they are major factors in this discussion.)
The major take away is that today, less that 1% of people list their occupation as farming. The series of evolutionary breakthroughs increased production with the use of machines and and adoption of the factory system. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have created some amazing advancements including the telephones, cars and air planes. But it also means that we've increased consumption of natural resources and in turn released a lot of green house gases into the atmosphere which is detrimental to the environment but also our personal health.
Green house gases occur naturally but in excess it's proven dangerous. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from combusting fossil fuels are the main driver of global warming. With increased population, over consumption and a culture of disposability, we have garnered a heighten demand for burning dirty fossil fuels in order to produce more and more and more. One of climate changes' biggest victims, is our ocean. Oceans regulate the Earth's temperature and provide 50% of the Earths oxygen. Records show that climate change has increased the global temperature of the Ocean. A warmer ocean has devastating consequences. For example, CO2 in the atmosphere creates a rise of acidity. An increase acid contents puts species like oysters, clams and shallow water coral at risk - completely disrupting the ocean's food chain system - and ultimately affecting humans who rely on fish protein. These reefs only take up 1/10th of 1% of the ocean's surface but provide 25% of all species depend on coral reefs. What happens when they're extinct?
More common knowledge may be the rise in sea level. As the ocean gets warmer, it swells and of course glaciers and ice caps are melting. Since 1994, each year on average, the Earth has lost 400 billion tons from its glaciers. The chain reaction (like filling up a bathtub), is that coastal regions are continuously get flooded. Increased extreme weather events and natural disasters. The devastating Hurricane Katrina is a horrific but very real example of global warming.
A hugely challenging concept for people to understand is that climate change refers to the long term changes to the planet’s climate. The changes are slow but the ramifications are massive and permanent. It's important now more than ever to educate yourself on this. We literally only have on planet - so every effort to reduce, reuse, recycle and consume consciously is critical.
Now here in America we live in a capitalistic society and there most certainly are needs. Although admirable, we don't expect anyone go completely off the grid and become a nomad. But instead we push for making small changes in your day to day life. We encourage any small step to omit activities that contribute to greenhouse gases or that off set your negative contribution with a positive one. We love to share brands that are working within our current systems to make positive environmental change:
Let's look at transportation for example. Emissions from driving contributes significantly to global warming, as well as local-scale pollution. The EPA estimates that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Great alternatives would be public transportation and shared bike rentals. But biking to work is not a great option for everyone - so what can those who have to drive do to offset their carbon foot print?
A really cool brand is MagicQuote. If you have a car, then you of course need auto insurance. The special thing about this brand is that for every policy purchased, MagicQuote will plant a tree on the user's behalf, offsetting the carbon footprint of their vehicle.
They're system has efficient components like intelligent scanning system, continuous rate shopping and they monitor things like age & address changes, expiring moving violations to let you know when you can save some money! But the most exciting part of their brand by far is that they plant trees! One tree will absorb carbon dioxide at the rate of 48 pounds per year equaling to one ton of carbon over its lifetime!
Purchase a policy, plant a tree, save the planet and offset your CO2 footprint!
Let's look at another example of a brand we love and in fact, just recently featured on MelaninASS. Enbois, a wooden accessory brand, tackles the plastic industry by producing chic wooden accessories. The plastic processing industry is extremely toxic. In our recent interview, Maxim Thuriere, the founder of Enbois, shares : "Because of its strength and ability to be morphed and shaped into any dimension, plastic may seem like a great option at first for any engineer or designer looking to create a product. However, the manufacturing of plastic as well as its disposal pollutes our air, land and water. Even if plastic is disposed properly in a landfill it can take an eternity to break down, and when it does, harmful chemical can be released into groundwater and surrounding waterways, affecting all species that benefit from the ecosystem." So Enbois produces using renewable resources; natural fast growing woods, hemp, cotton, acetate (plant based plastic), and recycled paper products for shipping materials. A huge mission for them is tackling deforestation by creating tree farms.
Even if you're not that interested in purchasing more products and services and you're quite the minimalist. Small changes in how and what you consume can be a huge contributor for helping the environment. Did you know that animal agriculture is a huge contributor to environmental degradation. Again you don't have go as far as becoming a vegan, but making a conscious effort to minimize your meat consumption is tremendous. Globally, food production is responsible for 30 percent of total emissions. Of the 14.5 percent of global emissions from the livestock industry, more than two-thirds come from beef, largely from fertilizer used to grow grain and from cattle belching.
Worldwide, over 80 billion land animals are farmed for food. To produce just a single pound of meat, those animals may each eat upwards of 15 pounds of feed—meaning mass meat production funnels far more resources through animals than it gets out of them. According to Water Footprint Network data, it takes over 2,000 gallons of water to produce a single steak and over 800 gallons to produce a single glass of milk. Nearly 600 gallons are used to produce just one pound of chicken meat, and nearly 400 gallons go into just one egg.
The Environmental Defense Fund reports that if each American replaced chicken with plant-based foods at just one meal per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.
THESE STATISTICS ARE CRAZY!
OVERALL ... There are literally thousands of brands who are working hard to be more environmentally friendly. Additionally, there are thousands of ways to lower your carbon foot print and the overall strain we're putting on the planet.
The fact is - climate change affects everything and everybody. Something as seemingly small as the coral reefs has a huge effect on us. We are part of a larger eco system and everything that we do has consequences. We've tragically normalize over consumption, un-sustainable pracitces and wasteful behaviors. Everything we do has a more conscious and sustainable alternative!