Path leading to the Athabasca Glacier, where it once stood

You don’t have to look far during extreme weather, or when a damning report is published, to find people who truly believe climate change is fake. As a scientist, that point of view seems unfathomable to me. I am more curious than a cat and I wanted to understand why people think climate change is fake.

This post was inspired by a number of commenters on Twitter talking about how the recent horrendous hurricanes were not caused by climate change. That, I absolutely do not disagree with because we simply cannot prove it either way. It’s a whole other topic, but The Week has a really interesting article on this topic and how climate change could impact hurricanes. What I was so intrigued by was people adding that climate change is fake anyway, so it definitely couldn’t have caused them. 

People have been arguing against the existence of climate change for years and years and years and years; it’s nothing new. It’s easy to dismiss views that seem so unrelatable to us, which is why I wanted to try and understand why some people think climate change is fake. After researching for this blog post it became pretty clear to me that there are issues with the way science is communicated to the public, and a lack of trust.

Why some people think climate change is fake

“There have been many ice ages, so ice melting is natural”

This is perhaps the argument for climate change being fake that I see most often. It’s factually correct and is an easy way to dismiss climate change. I think that is a really easy argument to make to dismiss it and not have to think about it. Combating climate change is going to result in changes to our lifestyles and dealing with some big issues which are overwhelming. Saying it’s natural is a good way to not have to deal with those issues.

Our planet has been through many ice ages in it’s history. So yes, that’s right. However, that argument dismisses the rate at which ice is melting. Us kicking out more greenhouse gases than would naturally occur is warming the planet up and causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt faster.

 

“This study says it’s not true”

People pick and choose data that fits their ideals and beliefs and discount those that don’t, this is called cognitive bias. Every single one of us has done it at some point in our lives. We want to find evidence to support our ideas, and sometimes that means we dismiss the truth.

However, cognitive bias is a problem in science too. While scientists are supposed to be unbiased, not all of them are. They might carry out their research in a way that could subtly (or not so subtly) change the results to fit their beliefs or what they want to see from the study. As we’re about to see, that can cause big problems because it can lead to the public being fed lies.

One of the key things in science is to be able to reproduce data. That means that anyone who understands the theory should be able to carry out exactly the same test, under the same conditions, and receive the same results. 

A review of all journal articles covering global climate change and global warming between 1991 and 2011 found that 97.1% of them agreed that humans are causing global warming (Cook et al., 2013). That means 2.9% of papers covering the same topics were either uncertain or did not agree that humans were causing global warming. Benestad et al., (2016) were curious about why those 2.9% disagreed with 97.1% of papers. In their study, they reviewed 38 journal articles that disputed global warming to try and replicate their results. The study found that flaws in the method, ignoring data that didn’t fit their expectations, and a lack of contextual information.

“Shouldn’t there be something to stop biased papers being published?” you may ask. Yes. It’s called a peer review process. That should stop biased papers being published However, the Benestad et al., (2016) paper discovered that some of the papers they looked at were submitted to journals which were not specialists in the area of the paper. It highlighted that this might mean the journals did not have reviewers who were experts in the area who could have picked up on those issues.

That isn’t something the general public would probably even consider. If you read an article about research that had been carried out, would you question it’s validity? In the past, I know I wouldn’t have. It’s only through studying science that I’ve learned to be so critical. This is not a problem that should affect the general public. Journals should only be publishing properly reviewed unbiased papers. Additionally, the media have a responsibility to report correctly, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

While the next three sections link together, I’m going to address them in three sections to explore each area in detail without it being a wall of text.

Snow on the Icefields Parkway

Some people just don’t believe it

Some people simply do not believe or understand the facts. This is nothing to do with a lack of education. Psychologists call it the “anti-enlightenment movement“, which explores some of the things we’ve spoken about in this blog post.

We probably all know people flat out don’t believe some things we believe in. Maybe you’ve even tried to show them facts and had a debate to no avail. It doesn’t matter how many facts or studies they are presented with, they won’t believe it.

Katherine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who worked on the Benestad et al, (2016) paper I mentioned earlier on. She recently reshared the results on her Facebook page in a post that went viral. The comments section makes for a truly interesting read because she’s been very active in replying and sharing further research papers and facts.

Some of the commenters are purely looking for reasons to disprove the results she and her team found. While that is part of science, and should be, it’s happening in an unconstructive and damaging way. Some of the commenters simply did not read the article or don’t believe it. This causes problems though if other people see the post pop up, don’t read the article, and then believe what those commenters have said.

 

A lack of trust

For one reason or another, some people do not trust scientists. Maybe it’s to do with their personal beliefs, religion, the media, or something else.

Going back to the post on Katherine Hayhoe’s page, one comment really stood out to me:

“I get that the climate has changed on earth over the years. But here is the thing scientists get paid to prove said hypothesis either side that person is getting paid to prove their point. So unless we take the money out of this then why should anyone believe these papers?”

This is a false view of how research works. Research is not where the money is in science and technology. Getting funding is hard work, and I’m not exactly sure how we’re supposed to “take the money out of this”. If there was no money, no research would be carried out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that no scientist has ever tried to sway his or her data to ‘prove’ something. Just look at the Benestad et al., (2013) paper. Bias exists in science. I understand why that might lead some people to distrust scientists.

 

Media & political spin / “fake news”

On a related note, the media and politicians use facts and studies as weapons against the ‘opposition’. The problem here is that it potentially lessens the impact and urgency of legitimate studies and facts. Think about how frustrated and sick of politics and arguing we all get during election campaigns. In the end, you tune it out and write off what politicians are saying.

Additionally, it doesn’t help when people in power dismiss climate change issues due to misinformation. Let’s look at America. In 2012, Mr Trump famously tweeted:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive.”

In 2014, he tweeted:

“Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax.”

At the start of this year, he appointed Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Problem? Mr Pruitt isn’t entirely convinced about climate change either.

When you have people in positions of power who dismiss climate change so easily, I completely understand why people think they’re right. While a lot of people know Trump spreads fake news, there are still a lot of people who believe him and I can understand why.

The majority of people don’t have the time, or interest, to read a journal article. Some of them can be incredibly boring and overwhelming for someone who is as scientist, let alone those who aren’t. The media play a huge part in disseminating the results of research to the general public. If it’s done the wrong way people perceive it as being overhyped and blown out of proportion.

Similarly, the rise of “fake news” seriously discredits legitimate news that is published along side it. In addition to that, how is the public to know what is fake news? The purpose of a media outlet is not to share fake news, yet some of them do; how do the public distinguish what’s fact or fake? How do we get around that?

There are media outlets who report in a non-biased and non-sensationalist way. Unfortunately there will always be newspapers and websites who thrive off trying to cause hysteria and publishing fake news. I don’t really know how we fix that kind of problem.

 

The retreating Athabasca Glacier

They’re not affected in their every day lives

Out of sight, out of mind. A good chunk of us don’t see, or aren’t inconvenienced, by climate change on a daily basis. Sure, there are huge climate related issues going on all over the world but it can be hard to truly grasp it until you see it yourself. One of the first times I was really hit by the reality of climate change was when I visited the Athabasca Glacier. When I saw for myself how fast the glacier had retreated in recent years I was shocked. Before that, I had never really seen the impact of global warming for myself.

I can completely understand why people don’t believe it, or simply push it to the back of their minds, when they aren’t affected by it every day. We all have a million and one things going on in our lives, dealing with something that doesn’t impact us day in day out is not always top of our list.


Seeing something from another person’s perspective has always interested me, so this was a fun post to write. It is wrong to dismiss those who believe climate change is fake as “stupid” because it isn’t true. We all believe what we believe for a reason. Name-calling and treating people like idiots never works because it isn’t any kind of educational tool.

It’s clear that people’s beliefs and the way science is relayed to the public are two of the biggest reasons why some believe climate change is fake. I don’t know how we get around that. Maybe it’s schooling and teaching people to question what they’re told. Maybe it is more eye-opening documentaries or films. I do think that our governments have a responsibility to step up as well and encourage everyone (businesses included) to make changes in our lives. Maybe it’s punishment for news outlets who publish fake news.

What do you think?

Why do some people think climate change is fake?

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Glass of water - are you drinking plastic right now?

Got a cuppa in your hand right now? There’s a good chance you might be drinking plastic as it’s estimated that 83% of the world’s tap water is contaminated by plastic fibres.

You have probably seen heart-breaking stories on Facebook about the dangers of plastic to marine wildlife. It doesn’t stop with them and our oceans; plastic is so polluting and invasive that studies have found it in our tap water.

A study by Orb Media and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health tested tap water around the globe and found the following contamination levels:

  • Worldwide: 83%
  • USA: 94%
  • Europe: 72%
  • Jakarta, Indonesia: 76%
  • New Delhi, India: 82%
  • Lebanon, Beirut: 94%
  • Kampala, Uganda: 81%
  • Quito, Ecuador: 75%

Those are some startling figures; 83% of the world’s tap water is contaminated with plastic.

The figures are worrying, so I wanted to do a bit of research into why drinking plastic is bad for us (aside from the ew factor), how it gets there, and if there’s anything we can do about it. To my surprise, I found that this wasn’t new news at all; we’ve been drinking plastic for years.

Before we get started I want make it clear that plastic pollution is a complex problem that extends beyond our drinking water. This blog post is to introduce and give an overview of the issues surrounding plastic in our tap water. If you want to learn more, I’ve included journal articles and news stories throughout the post. (Note that unless you are a university student or have subscriptions to journals you may not be able to access all the journal articles – that’s why I’m including news stories where I can too.)

 

Why are we drinking plastic? / What is microplastic?

Before we can look at the problems associated with microplastics in our tap water and how we can stop it, we need to address what they are and how they end up in our glasses.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic. While there is some debate over size, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration classify microplastics as being small than 5mm. This means microbeads are also considered microplastics.

There are two types of microplastic:

  • Primary microplastics; these are plastics which have been manufactured to be microplastics. Think microbeands in facial scrubs and toothpaste, and clothing made from plastic.
  • Secondary microplastics; plastic is not biodegradable, it breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, called secondary microplastics. This is why reducing our reliance on plastics is so important.

Fibres from our clothes are also a big contributor to the problem. A few examples of plastic-based fabrics include PVC, acrylic, polyester, and polycotton; you’re probably wearing some of those now. The problem with these types of clothing is that microfibres can be released into the environment via your washing machine. A study by Browne et al., (2011) suggested that one garment could release more than 1,900 fibres per wash. Napper and Thompson (2016) estimated that on a typical 6kg load of washing acrylic garments could release over 700,000 fibres, polyester 496,030, and poly-cotton 137,951 fibres. All of that, from everyone’s house, results in a lot of plastic fibres in our water. (Here’s a link to a news story about these figures if you can’t read the journal articles.)

So do how they get from our washing machine, sinks, and showers into our tap water? Waste water leaves our houses and travels to waste water treatment plants. After the water is treated, it is discharged BUT treatment does not remove microfibres. Currently, there is no filtration in our drinking water systems that will remove all plastic microfibres.

Due to the size of microfibres, they could also be transported by the wind and blown into our water supplies. Dan Morrison, the leader of the Orb Media investigation, told Sky news, “it could be that they are fibres from synthetic clothes and that the friction of daily life sends them into the air and they are then deposited into reservoirs, lakes and streams that feed cities as tap water.”

Here we come across another issue, which is just as important. Plastic end that ends up in lakes and oceans is eaten by fish and other marine life, which introduces it into our food chain. Not only are we drinking plastic, we’re eating plastic too.

 

What’s the problem with drinking plastic?

That heading right there probably sparked a reaction in you that sounded something like, “why would anyone want to drink plastic?” Exactly. Water is something most of us associate with being pure, having bits of plastic floating around in it sounds anything but.

Currently, there are no published “safe” levels of plastic microfibres in drinking water. Unfortunately, research is a long way off fully understanding the impact these fibres have on humans. Though, we can probably all safely say that given the choice we would rather not drink plastic.

Plastics have been found to leach a number of toxic chemicals and carcinogens (this is another post for another day). One of the most talked about examples, which you may have heard of, is bisphenol-A (BPA). It is found in food containers, the linings of tin cans, water bottles, and more. The problem? It’s been found to leach into food, and has been linked to a number of health issues, including increased blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer. Before you replace all your plastic with BPA free plastic be aware that BPA-free versions are not necessarily safer. Consider metal drinks and food containers and avoiding tinned food if you can.

In marine research, numerous studies have found that bacteria can colonise microplastics (Harrison et al., 2014). In addition to that, microplastics absorb and release chemicals into marine life (Koelmans, 2015). The obvious way this affects humans is that when we eat seafood, we also ingest those chemicals. This is called bioaccumulation, and means that those at the top of the food chain (humans, wolves, bears, tigers, sharks, etc.) have the most concentrated levels of toxins. Delicious.

I have spent some time trying to find out if there are any published studies on bacteria colonising on microplastics in our tap water but haven’t found anything yet. I don’t fully understand if that’s because it’s very unlikely to happen so is low priority or if it’s a work in progress and hasn’t been published yet. In theory, our tap water should be clean and free of bacteria. But what about parts of the world where it isn’t as clean? Is it possible that microplastics are contributing to bacterial growth? I’m not sure, it’s just a thought. If anyone has seen research about this or can weigh in, please do in the comments.

 

How can we stop drinking plastic?

Plastic pollution is a blight on our entire planet, not just our tap water. It’s not about ensuring we can drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee that’s free of plastic; this is about tidying up the mess we made of our planet (that isn’t purely ours to fudge up).

It is easy to say “ban all plastic now” but that’s more complex than trying to explain Game of Thrones to a friend whose never seen it. To clean up the mess we made we are going to have to compromise and make sacrifices. To live our lives the way we do currently, we require something like plastic; that’s how it’s become so darned intrusive. I am not a material scientist, so I’m not going to say “there are alternatives to every type of plastic we use.” However, it’s clear that looking into alternatives is useful.

 

Governments

One issue with the prevalence of plastic is to do with consumerism and capitalism. Capitalism does not lend itself well to caring about the environment. It’s all about sell, sell, sell, and we buy, buy, buy. This is a whole other blog post for another time when I’ve learned a bit more about it. You get the gist though; we need a huge societal shift that puts pressure on companies and politicians to act responsibly. That sounds unlikely right? Governments aren’t exactly renowned for listening to the people. If we want to quit drinking plastic and clear up the oceans, we all need to make changes and do our bit, however small or large.

This means putting pressure on companies we buy from and our politicians to spur change. If you are up for it, take time to write to companies you like and ask them to make a change. Write to your MP and / or local Green Party Councillor. Where I used to live, my local Green MP was always interested so you’re likely to hear back positively from them. 

 

Reducing our use of plastic

Since plastic doesn’t biodegrade, one of the best things we can do is to significantly reduce our use of plastics. Yes, it is daunting when you first begin considering how to stop using plastic. Especially as pretty much everything seems to come wrapped up in it.

Your efforts are personal to you and your circumstances. Which means you don’t have to go in straight at the deep end and quit plastic 100% right now. Any effort and progress you make is worth it. Here are a few things you can do review & reduce your use of plastic:

  • Seriously take note of the plastic you’re recycling (or can’t recycle): what is the plastic from? Can you buy the same item without plastic? If it’s not recyclable, consider writing to the company and asking them why they’re using non-recyclable packaging. Is there any clearly unnecessary plastic in your recycling bin?
  • Quit using one-use plastics, such as cutlery, straws, cups or plastic bags. Get yourself a water bottle, reusable mug, and metal / wooden cutlery for eating on the go.
  • Switch to wooden toothbrushes.
  • Only wash your clothes when they need to be washed. No one likes doing laundry anyway.
  • Avoid using cosmetics with microbeads in them – if you like a particular product, try emailing the company and asking them to remove microbeads in favour of natural alternatives.
  • Start reading the Going Zero Waste blogThis blog has been a bit of a bible for me since starting my zero waste journey earlier this year. Kathryn has covered so many topics you’ll have questions about and in a way that doesn’t feel daunting. I am far from zero waste but I’m making progress and it feels doable when I read her advice.

This is a topic I want to cover in more detail so keep an eye out for a more detailed guide on reducing our use of plastic.

 

Bottled or filtered water

Bottled water is not a solution to the problem. Firstly, the study by Orb found some microfibres in some samples of bottled water in the US. Secondly, bottled water comes in plastic bottles which perpetuates the problem.

You might consider getting a filtration system for your kitchen, though remember that as mentioned earlier there isn’t a filtration system that will remove all microplastics and nanoparticles.

 

Fabric & clothing

More research needs to be carried out into microfibre shed from our clothing. Once we fully understand the parameters that cause more or less shedding, we can begin to manufacture clothing which sheds as little as possible, and washing machines that cause as little shedding as possible. Washing machine filters are also being developed to prevent microfibres ending up in the environment.

In terms of what you can do now, consider buying clothes made from entirely natural material.

 

Packaging materials

As consumers we have power to encourage companies using non-recyclable packaging to change. If you come across plastic packaging which is non-recyclable, write to the company and ask them why they aren’t using a recyclable option. Additionally, if you order online consider asking the seller to use non-plastic packaging. I have read about bloggers doing this and they’ve found that most of the time the sellers will try their hardest and avoid plastics.

 

You might have finished this article feeling a bit overwhelmed; that’s how I felt when I started researching it. Drinking plastic sounds pretty horrible and unfortunately it isn’t going to disappear from our water supply overnight. The most useful things you can do is educating yourself on reducing the amount of plastic you bring into your home and send out to the kerb, and writing to companies and politicians.

What are your thoughts on drinking plastic? (And did you enjoy this kind of post?)

(Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash)

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Driving down the Icefields Parkway
 

Today is Earth Overshoot Day; the point in the calendar whereby we have used more natural resources than the planet can renew throughout the whole of the year. That’s a pretty sobering thought when there are almost five months left of 2017.

The Earth Overshoot Day website goes into more detail about what August 2nd represents and some of the things we can do to push that date back. It even allows you to calculate your global footprint. While it isn’t 100% perfect as it doesn’t include many countries on it, you can pick the one closest to you and it gives you some indication of what you could do to reduce your global footprint. According to my results, we would need 4.9 planets to support a world living the same way I do. That was a pretty surprising result as I thought I lived fairly greenly.

A couple of days ago, the UK government announced that it plans to cease sale of petrol and diesel cars (though not hybrid cars) by 2040. In comparison, India wants the same by 2030, and Norway only wants zero emission cars on their roads by 2025. Last month, Volvo announced that they will only introduce electric or hybrid vehicles after 2019. While it requires more work and money for a country to support that kind of change than for a company to stop producing a specific type of car, why is our government planning to fall 21 years behind Volvo, 15 years behind Norway, and 10 years behind India?

No, it’s not as simple as us replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric or hybrid versions, it will require culture shifts and a lot of investment in energy and public transport, but why are we aiming to fall behind?

The government estimate that air pollution is linked to 40,000 premature deaths per year, though it is hard to verify that figure. We know that air quality in some areas is poor, it can make existing conditions worse, and no one really wants to breath in dirty air, period. We know something needs to be done, but are our government doing enough, fast enough? These are just some of the issues that need to be tackled to change the way we think about travel.

Green energy

It’s all well and good harping on about how green electric cars are, but how green are the energy sources charging that car? If an electric car is charged using electric from fossil fuels, it isn’t truly emission free; albeit, the emissions are being emitted from a power station, not the car directly.The UK government is woefully behind other European countries in terms of green energy. A few times a year, stories pop up about the likes of Germany or Sweden generating enough green energy to power the entire country for a day or two. It’s not perfect, but they’re on the right path and we need to follow suit.

The problems with UK public transport

If you’ve traveled to Europe, you will know how inadequate and expensive the British public transport system is in comparison. The UK rail networks are in need of upgrading but that isn’t a priority for the government, who recently scrapped plans to electrify key lines. It seems the only public transport system the government are interested in is HS2, which will tear up parts of the British countryside, will cost £55.7 billion (way above the £32.7bn originally estimated), and will probably be the rail equivalent of the M6 toll; that is, barely used.

We are moving to Edinburgh soon and our friends and family have been doing some research into the easiest and cheapest way to get to Edinburgh, which is about 270 miles from where we currently live. In my car (a 0.9l Renault Clio), it costs less than £30 in fuel one way. The train? Costs over £100. Where is the incentive for people to take public transport instead of their cars when it is so expensive? What’s worse is you could fit five people in the average car, which would drop the cost to £6 each in fuel, but everyone would still be paying £100 on the train.

On top of that, our networks need to expand their reach to encourage more people to take public transport. It takes me just under 20 minutes to drive 7.5 miles to work, but what if I wanted to take public transport? I can’t, safely. I would have to walk a couple of miles down an unlit country lane with no footpath, and it’s doubtful buses would be running when I finish at 1am.

That leads us nicely to cycling. To a lot of motorists, cyclists are considered to be a pain because UK roads aren’t quite wide enough to safely pass. This is even more problematic in rural areas. The Netherlands is a country we really need to learn from because it has been estimated that up to 70% of journeys in Amsterdam and The Hague are made on cycles.

Changing how we travel

Helping our environment does not just require a change in how our government thinks and our infrastructure works, it requires us to change our mindsets. We need to change the way we think about travel. While that does go hand in hand with improved public transport, we need to start walking or cycling more.

I include myself in that category. When we’re living outside Edinburgh, we probably won’t need the car much at all but it seems hard to give up that sense of freedom that comes with owning a car. Conversely, if public transport was better and cheaper, it wouldn’t be as hard.

It isn’t going to be completely pain free and easy, but we haven’t done our fair share in terms of protecting the world we live in for long enough and it’s time we step up and take responsibility.

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Blood and Earth by Kevin Bales

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a book review, eh? I’ve barely had time to read this year but Blood and Earth demanded I read it with some kind of immediacy and then tell everyone that they need to read it too. 

 

1. You don’t know what you don’t know

I can’t speak for everyone but I went into this book thinking I knew about where things were coming from but I was wrong. I was shocked by a lot of the things I read. I had no clue that shrimps were harvested by young boys and men who had been lied to, enslaved, abused, and forced to live in awful conditions with the threat of death if they tried to escape back to their families. I honestly would never have made the logical leap from shrimp farming to slavery. Never.

It is very easy for us to buy into marketing and what we are told by retailers without ever questioning the origin of our phones, laptops, food, or clothes. It’s easy to be ignorant because you don’t have to ask that many questions before you feel very uncomfortable.

 

2. It is our responsibility to know where things come from

By buying a product we are, whether we like it or not, agreeing with the practices of a company we buy from. Large, global retailers don’t really care about anything aside from profit and to force them to change their profit needs to suffer.

This leaves us with the reponsibility of holding companies accountable with you and me. By actually asking companies to change and voting with our money we can make companies aware of the way we feel about their actions. More transparency is needed and until we demand it most retailers probably won’t feel obliged to provide it.

 

3.We kinda like the planet

The kind of scum who value profit above people’s lives are also the kind of people who don’t care about the environment.

Mining for gold has resulted in streams and rivers being polluted with mercury, which local families use drink, wash in, or use for cooking. Would we stand for that happening in our own towns? No.

The demand for charcoal has resulted in large chunks of forests being decimated and ecosystems destroyed, resulting in not just loss of species but severe flooding in local areas because the forests “held” the water.

Mangrove forests are being destroyed in x for shrimp farming. The problem with this is, again, not just related to the ecosystems and species being wiped out, but mangrove forests are also huge carbon sinks. When they’re destroyed, that CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

None of these are positives and Kevin Bales does an incredible job of explaining the link between slavery and the destruction of the environment. He states that if you combined the CO2 pollution of global slavery, it would be the third biggest polluter behind America and China. If not for humane reasons, slavery needs to be stopped.

 

4. It will change your life

This might sound cliche but you will struggle not to question your buying choices or retailers actions after reading this. And that is perfect and exactly what the world needs.

In one of the last chapters, Kevin shares the story of Claudio and Maria; two environmentalists who lived on their farm in Brazil and taught others how to live and make money off their farms without being destructive. Disgustingly, they (along with hundreds of others) were killed because they stood in the way of people who wanted to destroy the forests for profit. The loss of their lives can’t be in vain and who wants us to be sitting around in years to come and think we should have taken action sooner?

 

5. Our governments are idiots and we need to make them change

Ok, so let me preface this by saying not all governments are idiots. The UK and US governments seem especially moronic and ignorant when it comes to the environment at the moment. In America, you have a President who thinks climate change has been invented. In the UK, we are in the run up to a general election and the current party in power aren’t talking about the environment at all in their manifesto. In the UK, the capital city breached annual legal pollution limits for 2017 after just five days. And, the UK government has failed on repeated occasions to clean up the air in London, despite thousands deaths as a result of it. This is not acceptable.

The more of us who are educated, the more we can force change.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a happy Sunday afternoon read but it is an important read that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how bad it makes us feel. I did actually find Blood and Earth to be a really gripping read because I just needed to know more immediately. Despite all the horror, it’s an inspiring read to know that we are responsible and can force change.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not suggesting that if we all read this book things will change instantly and it’ll be a walk in the park, full of sunshine, bunny rabbits and fluffy clouds. This book isn’t a silver bullet, it’s a starting point. It will be hard to change our society and the things we take for granted, and have become so reliant on. No one said change was supposed to be easy but if we want to ensure slavery is wiped out, want to enjoy the natural beauty of this planet, and continue sharing it with wonderful species that are vital to the ecosystem, we have to try.

If you’re intrigued by Blood and Earth, or want to know more, you might also like to read Kevin Bales’ interview with NPR (it’s written so you don’t need audio).

If you’ve got any suggestions for environmental / ethical reads, please send them my way.

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