The recent catastrophic fires around Australia have been devastating to both people, animals and the eco systems that support us all. It’s great to see everyone chipping in to do their bit. There is an underlying blame game emerging around climate change through this event which has plenty of people talking. Understandably, it is an emotive topic.
Climate change as a cause of the fires is controversial. ‘Climate Change’ as defined by Wikipedia ‘occurs when changes in the Earth’s climate system result in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time.’ We know through science that the earth is literally heating up. We also know that human activity contributes to the speed in which climate change occurs. Furthermore, we know that the earth, over its lifetime has also heated up and cooled down as the planet moves through lifecycles over billions of years.
What concerns me are the drivers of climate change. As a race, humans have moved into a technological age. Everyone wants everything now. Consumerism and convenience that have fuelled the acceleration of climate change. The younger generation are very vocal about saving the planet which is fantastic. However, I feel education around the mechanics of modern-day capitalist society isn’t taught or understood for positive change to be permanent.
Within the home, choosing energy efficient lighting and environmentally friendly building products is important for the ‘now’. However, our thought processes may need to go further as we consider the production waste and future waste of these items. Around our homes and workplaces, are we repurposing and recycling as much as we can? Or are convenience and consumerism making it easy to turn a blind eye?
Ethical climate change is more than just taking green bags to the supermarket or lobbying at a rally. It requires a holistic approach to every day life at a grass roots level. iPhones and the internet have been a catalyst widespread communication but there is a cost to their manufacturing and recycling. Manufacturing of the iPhone requires several key metals including aluminium, titanium, gold and iron. Rare elements including yttrium and europium are used in the iPhone battery and although the count for a fraction of the products overall mass, these elements have made mining rare earth minerals a huge business (source).
Solar power panel waste is also on topic with organisations and countries looking at ways to divert panels from landfills. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) has estimated there could be 78 million metric tonnes of solar panel waste by 2050. There is also a real concern that panels at end of life are toxic after research has shown that pollutants including lead or carcinogenic cadmium can almost be completely washed out of the solar panel fragments over a period of months, including wash from rainwater (source – Forbes)
There is no right or wrong, but what is needed is a collaborative approach by all people within society to work towards better solutions going forward. We all want a healthier, sustainable planet and to help make it happen. This requires a fundamental shift of society including our core values. We can start by being the change we want to see in the world and making small changes around our own homes.