Besides our planet, of course…
When it comes to topics like climate change and the environment, we live in a scary time – but it can also be hopeful. While we’re facing plenty of problems, we’re also seeing people rise up to face them, both in political arenas and on city streets.
We’ve rounded up 5 major environmental talking points that are gaining traction in the mainstream media and on social media – find out what’s hot right now in this world of ours, and learn about the things people are doing to try to cool it all down.
Farming and ammonia
We already know that industrialised farming is bad for the environment in terms of carbon emissions from livestock and the transport of goods. But there’s yet another offending factor that’s raising alarm – premature death from air pollution, thanks to ammonia.
Manure, slurry, and fertilisers are the main offenders, with almost 44% of the UK’s ammonia emissions traceable back to cattle farms.
Ammonia mixes with other airborne chemicals, resulting in an incredibly harmful cocktail. And we can’t help but drink it – every time we breathe, we’re exposing ourselves to potential respiratory, cardiovascular, and cognitive problems.
The Guardian reports that cutting ammonia usage in farming by half could save 52,000 people from premature death related to air pollution across Europe. The good thing is, it’s not all that difficult to do so – covering slurry and distributing it into the soil in a different way could significantly reduce ammonia exposure.
However, there’s very little regulation in place regarding the way farms use ammonia, and the UK government doesn’t seem to have a clear strategy to change this any time soon.
It could be yet another case of watch and wait for things to get bad enough to force some sort of official action – but don’t hold your breath (despite how much you might want to).
Positive outlook on plastic
We know plastic’s role in environmental devastation isn’t a new topic (we’ve been talking about it for a while) – but it’s worth talking about the response that the anti-plastic movement is now getting. From Instagram to Parliament, real change seems to be afoot.
It’s not just consumers who are adopting better strategies – we’re now seeing radical action from governments. Canada has announced a ban on single-use plastics by 2021, which includes items like straws, fast food containers, and stir sticks.
Innovators are also focussing their energy on sustainable solutions – engineers have even invented a vacuum that’s designed to target plastic on beaches. Celebrities have been using their platforms to raise awareness – Harry Potter’s Bonnie Wright (that’s Ginny Weasley to you) recently campaigned to encourage parents to rethink buying plastic toys.
Many credit the positive response to the final episode of BBC’s Blue Planet II. Now if only we could convince Sir David Attenborough to adopt a plant-based diet…
Student climate strikes
We’ve mentioned the student climate strikes several times already, but, as they continue to be something that’s worth talking about, we’re going to celebrate them again.
It all began when Greta Thunberg, then a 15-yearold Swedish high school student, skipped school to protest outside parliament for 3 weeks straight. She has now become figurehead for climate activism, inspiring young people around the world to take their own strike action.
The #FridaysForFuture movement has found its way into communities across the globe. Recent reports suggest more than 1.4 million students worldwide have participated in some sort of demonstration, with numbers growing every week.
Green New Deal
We’ve talked about how governments in the UK, Europe, and Canada are at least acknowledging the issue of climate change (even though it might not feel like enough). But what about the United States?
The US government has a few fragmented policies that address environmental issues, but America lacks a concrete, organised approach to tackling climate change at a governmental level – which is where the Green New Deal, the Sunset Movement, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez come in.
In November 2018, the Sunset Movement, a climate activism group, staged a sit-in to raise awareness about its proposition for change – the Green New Deal. The protest was supported by Ocasio-Cortez (the youngest ever congresswoman-elect), and attracted mass media attention.
The Green New Deal is a complex proposition – however, to simply to the extreme, it’s designed to transform America’s entire approach to energy, infrastructure, and the economy in order to make the entire country more sustainable.
While it’s not the first proposition of its kind, the timing and media attention dedicated to the latest Green New Deal from the Sunset Movement and Ocasio-Cortez’s team is unprecedented. Not only has it received support from politicians, but it has triggered a passionate response from the American people.
Despite the fact that the senate actually voted down the proposition in March 2019, the Green New Deal is still a highly searched term on Google and regularly mentioned topic on Twitter, indicating that it’s not going anywhere. In fact, New York State recently passed its own version of the deal, proposing the most extreme clean energy targets the in the entire country.
Bad can be good: Vegan fast food
We’re huge campaigners for adopting an ethical diet, and so our regular readers might find it shocking to find we’re encouraging you to eat sausage rolls and burgers – but this is the kind of bad food that’s also good.
Veganism isn’t just a flyby trend, and the mainstream food industry is finally beginning to take note. Clever companies have spotted the gap in the market and filled it with new items on the menu.
Plant-based burger company Beyond Meat recently made its debut on the stock market to an incredible welcome of a $1.5bn valuation. You can now get ‘Beyond Burgers’ at several fast food restaurants in Canada and the US.
The UK is trying to catch up. You probably remember the mania surrounding Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls, and KFC has recently trialed vegan chicken burgers in select UK locations. Pret’s experimental pop up, Veggie Pret, became a permanent fixture in 2016, and the company has recently bought the Eat restaurant chain and announced intentions to expand the Veggie Pret brand.
While we don’t recommend basing your lifestyle around fast food, we’re happy to see that plant-based options are reaching the high street. Hopefully these alternatives will find their way into the hands of hungry, open-minded people who realise that you can have your (vegan) cake, and eat it too.