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Friday, July 1, 2022
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Changes we can all make to live well for the planet

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We can all make changes in our life that can help to avoid the disaster threatened by the climate emergency.

Although our governments have a huge responsibility to tackle our changing environment, this can create a mindset that “there is nothing I can do!”. But we can make a difference – every person, every household and Save Our Shropshire is on a mission to help tackle the climate emergency in our county.

We all need to change the habits that govern our lives to avoid the disaster threatened by the climate emergency. But all the evidence points to the fact that we are not doing enough, fast enough. Human beings almost always seem to wait until disaster is upon them before they act.

As Rita Mae Brown said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” Many people resist taking action because they struggle to give up habits of a lifetime – remember life before seatbelts? But with the climate emergency, we cannot afford to wait until the last minute.

In Shropshire, we have already been affected by severe flooding and now fuel poverty! The evidence from 2014 was that nearly 15% of all households in the county suffered from fuel poverty – ranked 4th in England. That is around 30,000 homes. It will be even worse this year as gas and electricity prices will go up by a further 24% in October.

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Here are some key areas that can help you take action now:

Heat

An air-source heat pump.

Getting improved insulation, double glazing and air heat pumps will not only be good for home heating but will also reduce the impact of harmful oil and gas on the planet.

Fortunately, in February 2022 Shropshire council secured £9 million in funding to help people save energy, so critical at this time. People on lower incomes will be offered grants for improved insulation, double glazing and air heat pumps. But everyone should make these changes – not only those in fuel poverty. We need to learn to heat well for the planet.

We need to give up our habits of using gas, oil and coal.

Diet

Shropshire is rich with local farms

In Shropshire we have a wonderful farming industry, providing milk, lamb, pigs and chickens for people to eat. We also have great fruit and vegetables to eat from farms around Shropshire and the United Kingdom.

Buying food like beef from South America, or vegetables from Peru is bad for the environment. Brazilians cut down forests to make way for beef cattle. Cattle release harmful gases into the environment. Aircraft and Ships from Peru use fossil fuels. So, we should move more toward eating a plant-based diet, buying locally and becoming more home-grown. This will not only be good for our health but will also be good for reducing the impact of climate change on our planet.

Buying locally will help our farmers and market towns, as people buy fresh from our town centres. We need to change the habits of what we eat!

Travel

Electric cars help the environment and our pocket

Today we drive around in petrol and diesel cars. The price of fuel is now at the point where it will cost us £100.00 to fill the tank! But the oil that provides the fuel is bad for the planet. So, we need to be switching across to electric vehicles as soon as possible.

Research in 2020 showed that it is cheaper to run an electric car over its lifetime than to run a petrol or diesel car by about £100 per year – and this will only get better as electric car prices fall, and oil prices stay higher. Even better, we should use bicycles for those short journeys.

Shropshire council has been given a grant of £140,000 towards improving the infrastructure for walking and cycling. But this will only be of value if people take advantage of the improved facilities.

Our Footprint

We need electric vehicle chargers. But these will only be made available in sufficient numbers if we all take to buying electric cars. We need to learn to travel well for the planet.

We all have a carbon footprint – what we send up into the atmosphere as we heat, eat, travel and buy. We can find out what that is for our parish by using a tool such as the one at the World wildlife fund website: https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/ or the parish measuring tool called impact: https://impact-tool.org.uk/

The average for each household in the Shropshire council area, for instance, is 17.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. We need that to be zero! We need to work to reduce each of those areas, and we need to get to “Net-zero” by 2030 – we emit as much as we take out of the atmosphere.

If we and other countries do not get there, then we will see more floods, fires and other countries struggling to survive through lack of water and food. We can already some of that happening today in Africa. It will really be that bad!

Education

The Carbon Literacy Project is a brilliant organisation that rightly believes that the route to behaviour changes lives through education, and it is vital that people get that education to understand what to do. When people need to change their habits, they need to understand that what they do today is wrong. They then need to transition toward doing the right thing without thinking about it. Learning to live well for the planet is core to the survival of the planet.

As Herbert Spencer – a British philosopher – said, “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” We can no longer afford to think about what to do, but we must simply get on and change our lives for the better in the ways we eat, buy, travel, build, heat and light.

Household Course

Want to know what more you can do?

Save Our Shropshire CIO is offering every household in Shropshire a one day course to learn more about the climate emergency and what steps you can take to help heal our planet. The course is specifically aimed at householders and focuses on what householders and their family members can do towards achieving net-zero by 2030.

It covers the science, and the actions you can take, and then encourages you to make individual and group pledges, which can lead you to become certified as carbon literate by CLP, following their assessment.

Find out more about future courses at: https://saveourshropshire.org/climate-emergency-workshop

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