Written by guest writer, Jo Lorenz
2020 has truly been a mammoth year. We all watched — at times feeling utterly helpless — as COVD-19 took hold across the globe. We sat in our own corners of the world with that undeniable feeling of impotent insignificance, realising that we, as individuals, did not have the power to prevent what was happening.
Yet we cannot continue to let our feelings of powerlessness dictate our courses of action. We must recognise and learn from the few positives to come from COVID-19. Most poignantly, our barring witness to (most of) our political leaders acting together, acting for humanity. The world temporarily closed down, we were in unchartered waters, yet we were also acting as one. This is positive.
And complementary to this, this is not the first time that humanity has positively pulled together for the greater good. Today, September 16, is World Ozone Day — the United Nations’ day of celebration, to recognise the international cooperation which resulted in humanity fixing the hole in the ozone layer! BOOM! World Ozone Day is a wonderful and timely reminder of what humankind can collectively do when we all pull together.
Photo by Thomas Richter
But first, let’s take a step back for a little ozone science lesson **adjusts lab coat**
The ozone layer is a delicate shield of gas that protects our planet from harmful rays from the sun. More than 30 years ago, this very delicate eggshell around Earth was under direct threat from the over-use of manufactured chemicals, including manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
So what did we do? We collectively agreed to stop using ODS — and this controlled phaseout helped protect the ozone layer for future generations. Yet more than this, it also inadvertently contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change. Furthermore, it protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth.
I love the story of the ozone layer, as it serves as a stark reminder of what humanity can do — both to harm, yet also to heal. World Ozone Day shows us that collective decisions and action, guided by science, are the only way to solve major global crises.
And now, in honour of World Ozone Day, let’s talk actions we can all take on an individual level:
Use renewable energy
You can either invest in installing solar panels on your home OR you can choose utility companies that have been certified as using power from wind, solar and other renewables. This is easily one of the biggest ways for us to fight climate change.
Use less water
Saving water reduces carbon pollution as it decreases the energy needed to treat water before it gets to our homes. Cherish every drop like you’ve carried it from a well!
Consume less — consume better
The most environmentally-friendly product is the one you didn’t buy. Yet if you have to buy something, please try to consume within the circular economy
Invest in energy-efficient appliances
Yes, this means consuming and is an investment, yet if you are in the market for new appliances please shop for energy-efficient ones. They will not only save you money in the long run, yet they also keep millions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Drive fuel-efficient cars
Again, this one is a pretty big investment, yet if you are in the market for a new car — or will be in a few years — please consider ‘gas-smart cars’, such as EVs, or hybrids. They will save you money and save the planet. It really is that simple.
Use your voice!
Talk to your friends and family about climate change, and force your representatives to make the right decisions. Send those lobby letters — scream for renewables — as climate change will not disappear. We need to address it.
To fight the climate emergency we need systemic change throughout our governments and traditional institutions — yet for years our politicians and economists alike have said it cannot be done. Yet it has been done. The world has changed. We are one people with one common adversary. We are one human race trying to prevent one human-caused catastrophe. And we are creating the catalyst of our climate change reinvention.
We can all make a difference by changing our own behaviours and pushing our collective power from the bottom up to turn around this devastating climate forecast. So let’s force our governments to stop building walls and start fortifying solutions.
And thank you, World Ozone Day, for the punctual reminder of what we can achieve when we work collectively!
Read more from Jo on her blog Conscious Citizen