Our carbon footprint is simply the amount of emissions that each of us produces. Reducing them by 80% (to around 2.5 tons per person) is the best way to reduce climate change. The four main ways to do this is to eat plants, fly less, drive less and have fewer children.
Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle is a book that reveals the carbon cost of all we do, and how to make big reductions. We have less than 10 years to drastically slash our carbon emissions, to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees, and avert catastrophe. That means the average person cutting their carbon footprint by over 80% by 2030. This book looks how to live a truly green life (and what governments and corporations can do). The author is a sustainable design teacher and former architect.
We have around 10 years to prevent irreversible climate change (which affects all species). 2019 was the hottest year on record and temperatures are set to rise still over the next few years, with floods and heavy rain having quadrupled in the last years, yet snow cover reducing also. In 2019 there were over 120 extreme weather records worldwide, including snow in Hawaii and heatwaves in Alaska.
Take Mukti Mitchell’s free carbon calculator. Voted the best in the world, this can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 10%, with no major changes to your lifestyle (Mukti is the son of ecological writer Satish Kumar, and once built himself a micro solar yacht and sailed it around the British Isles). He and his friend Darren Hall have created the beautiful site Carbon Savvy, where you have 10 steps to take to reduce carbon emissions, focused on health, nature, communities, transport, heating, holidays and shopping. Some of their suggestions include:
- Insulate your home to be warmer & save bills
- If you fly, visit closer places (or visit less often).
- Downsize your car to a fuel-efficient vehicle
- Walk or cycle to work, or share lifts
- Buy high-quality items that last
- Switch to a greener energy company
- Buy local seasonal organic food
- Eat more plants – less meat & dairy
- Grow your own food (see toxic plants/mulch to avoid near pets)
- Learn to repair goods yourself
- Take public transport (trains, buses)
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint is a book for anyone who feels overwhelmed about the climate emergency. Dive into simple ways to reduce your footprint, from reducing plastic use to being a sustainable shopper. You’ll learn how to:
- Heat and cool your house, by using a smart thermostat or plugging your chimney,
- Manage devices and electronics, by unplugging unused chargers or passing along your old phone.
- Cook, wash and clean smart – by using small pans and defrosting the freezer regularly (the book suggests washing cars with rainwater, but it’s best not to do this, as oily untreated water goes down storm drains – use a professional car wash that uses recycled water or a waterless car wash instead).
- Garden according to nature like leaving lawns natural, or creating your own green roof
- Shop and travel as a ‘locavore’ and support low-carbon resorts
- Change financial habits bu investing in the future or buying services, rather than products.
Small Gases, Big Effect is a short, clear guide to climate change by German students who gathered researched from over 1000 scientists, and translated it into clear thoughtful writing, with illuminating graphics. Read by over 350,000 German homes (along with 37 MPs and the agricultural minister), it’s now a set set in universities and the European Central Bank.
Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change is a fun book for anyone who has a family member or anyone else, who thinks they know better than the world’s climate scientists. Dr John Cook has an honours degree in physics, and is a professor for Climate Change Communication.
The Low Carbon Cookbook offers 140 plant-based recipes using wholesome seasonal ingredients, with tips on making climate-friendly choices. And how to shop smart. With over 30,000 edible plants, we rely on 3 crops for over 60% of our calories.
How to Tread Lightly on the Earth is a lovely little guide to reducing your carbon footprint, based on Lucinda Ford’s own personal journey. Instead of listening to reports of climate disaster, plastic pollution and a collapse in worldwide biodiversity, instead follow Lucinda into her one-person journey of a crash course of all the facts, with simple steps to make a positive difference.
For many of us, concern for the planet and our own footprint is part of everyday life. We know ‘something must be done’. But what exactly, and by whom? In a world of 8 billion people, what can any one of us do to genuinely help? In fact, quite a lot!
How Children Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint
C is for Carbon Footprint is a beautiful A to Z guide for children, each letter includes a lesson on how to help the planet. With beautiful artwork, find simple fixes to lifestyle changes across 26 tips for readers of all ages. Author Robert Donisch is an international science and outdoor educator, who after 9 years of teaching, decided to draft the different ideas for books that had been rattling around in his brain for a few years. This is the first.
Palm Trees at the North Pole is a book for children age 8 to 12, to share the science and history of our climate, to be part of the solution. The science and facts are accompanied by vivid illustrations, from a history of our climate (exploding volcanoes and extinct mammoths) to how humans are creating climate change today. Educational but never scary.
Often these days, summers are becoming unbearably hot. Donald Trump once famously said that there was no climate change problem, as it was not always hot. This is the kind of freaky non-science that has to be nipped in the bud. Climate change causes freak weather (not always hot weather) and this in turn can lead to human and animal deaths, different migration patterns (that could lead to species extinction) to rising seas and mass floods, droughts and the like.
So what’s the truth? The best people to ask are presumably climate scientists. One of the world’s best experts is Mike Berners-Lee who is a researcher and writer on carbon foot-printing and professor at Lancaster University. Here are some of his (often surprising) thoughts on how we can help to stop climate change together:
Road miles are as bad as air miles, so if you buy fruits and veggies from supermarkets, go for regional ones like Booth’s that have less miles to travel to store.
Forget working till you drop to buy stuff you don’t need. It’s better to ‘disentangle our self-esteems from our pay packets’.
Carbon dioxide is only 11% of agricultural emissions, mostly from fertiliser and cattle pee. Methane is much stronger (from belching cows and sheep) and silage. But big emissions are also from machinery and heating of greenhouses to grow crops out of season in the wrong climate. So eating local foods is as important as not eating animals. Switching from beef to cheese does not reduce your carbon footprint.
Aluminium cans of beer are better for the planet than glass bottles.
Mike is also a big fan of troublemakers like Greta Thunberg. He writes that after decades of asking politely, we now have a full-scale climate emergency and although he’s not a natural ‘protest in the street person’, he notes that changes were made to laws due to ‘armies of school kids’ protesting and Extinction Rebellion.
It’s as certain that as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, we will just keep burning them. Until the public demands otherwise, the policy makers will continue to serve their financiers. James Edward Hansen (professor of climate science)
Full Ecology is a book on repairing our relationship with the natural world. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of global climate breakdown. So how might we develop the inner resolve to confront it? This book suggests a path forward. Breaking the modern impulse to see humans as separate from nature, the authors encourage us to learn from natural systems that touch our lives.
True change begins with stopping and questioning assumptions about our place in the world. From this process of reflection, they offer an alternative blueprint for acting in ecologically healthy ways, and inspiring others to do the same. Rather than proposing a 10-step plan to save the earth, this book encourages a more elemental thinking of our connections to nature, and of how such connections might be strengthened for the common good. Practical and poetic, scientific and spiritual, this book presents a strong and nourishing foundation for climate action.
Mary M Clare and Gary Ferguson have each dedicated over 30 years to exploring the world’s social and natural ecology. Clare as a graduate professor of psychology, Gary as a nature and conservation science writer. They live in Montana, USA.