Changing lifestyles and climate change – Guyana Times
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about climate change, and the devastating impact it is having and is likely to have on communities and the world as a whole. However, while governments and policy makers are busy discussing the issues at national and international levels, many believe that not enough is being done in designing and implementing critical projects at community level to encourage and sensitize individuals about the need to play their part in mitigating the effects of climate change. In fact, it could be argued that, at the global level, many people are not educated about the issue, especially as it relates to the kind of impact that climate change is having on the environment and on individuals themselves. Citizens still take the issue for granted, and do not pay much attention to the various messages about the need to change lifestyle patterns and so on. Scientists have argued that the planet is indeed threatened by individuals’ lifestyle patterns, and that if people continue to use resources as we do now, the planet’s reserves would be depleted at a rapid pace increasingly fast. For many countries, there is still the challenge of getting everyone to understand and appreciate the idea of the need to work towards sustainable consumption, but also to take practical steps to move in this direction. Certainly, Governments can set the framework with their policies; set targets, define standards, give incentives to make companies go green. Businesses and industries, as well as researchers, can provide the answers, but, ultimately, consumers have the power of the purse, whether they buy green products or not. The highly comfortable ‘green model’ reduces our ecological footprint, emits less greenhouse gases, uses less energy and raw materials, and can create new sources of growth and employment. In essence, achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. As noted by UNDP, the efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic waste and pollutants are important targets to achieve this goal. Based on statistics, the world population is growing rapidly, with more than a billion new people joining the middle class by 2050. Experts have predicted that if citizens do not change their consumption patterns, the global use of resources multiplied by 15, which is considered dangerous to our planet, because it would not be able to meet everyone’s needs. At an individual level, each individual plays a vital role in defining their own consumption patterns, and can also contribute to the fight against climate change. For example, we can reduce energy consumption, and energy-saving money could instead be used to develop climate-friendly technologies and equipment. Official records show that, globally, more than 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are related to household consumption. Although it is accepted that it is not an easy task to get people to change lifestyles and work towards a climate friendly environment, the task would be much easier if they were educated about the role they can play and the benefits of their own actions. . Here, in Guyana, we are still dumping junk carelessly. For example, people continue to dispose of plastics and Styrofoam items in a reckless way, leading to clogging of drains and ditches, thus leading to flooding and so on. The 2005 floods revealed our vulnerability, and should have been a big wake up call for us to treat the environment differently. There is certainly a need for more effective public education campaigns on climate change, and to highlight the effects of poor environmental practices. There is also a need to implement more green projects at local levels, to encourage communities to work towards a cleaner and healthier environment.