**Geographer Neil Kitching has recently published a book on the solutions to our climate change and nature crises. It is a comprehensive guide, written in easy to read language and as such contains ideal material for teachers to share with older students studying geography. In this blog, Neil talks about the solutions to our climate and nature crises from a geographer’s perspective.**
Geography is at the centre of climate and nature – the defining issues of the next few decades. Geography, the study of human impact and natural processes, provides the context and overview for pupils. Geography teachers should seize this opportunity to lead by example, albeit to also assist other teachers to embed climate change topics within their teaching.
Carbon Choices considers the twin environmental crises rooted in unsustainable development that humans face; that of climate change and loss of nature. The two are intertwined. Healthy forests, grasslands, savannas, wetlands, peatlands, soils, mangroves, sea grasses and coral reefs all absorb and store carbon dioxide. Conversely, human impacts and destruction of these ecosystems can often release this stored carbon leading to more emissions of greenhouse gases.
Carbon Choices explores the impact of humans – population and consumption – and the reasons why it is so difficult to tackle climate change. With a focus on Scotland, a small country trying to set a good example for others to follow, Carbon Choices also looks at UK and international examples of good and bad practice. It reflects personal experiences from trips to Greenland, India, Morocco, Lapland, Botswana and Namibia.
We all know and understand that the use of electricity, driving, flying and heating our homes drives our carbon emissions. But the four ‘hidden’ elephants in the room are our excessive consumerism including fast fashion, our dietary demands including beef and dairy, society’s use of cement and concrete, and the refrigerant gases and energy used for cooling.
In Carbon Choices, I identify ten building blocks; including sensible economics, regulations, design, innovation, investment, education and behaviour change. These building blocks are the foundations to help us build a low carbon economy that works in harmony with nature. Without these in place, tackling climate change is at best, an uphill battle. Those who try to be ‘green’ find there are obstacles – we need to clear these. Governments can then set the policy direction and sensible regulations, businesses can respond and provide innovative low carbon products and services, and consumers will have the knowledge to make better carbon choices
The book then introduces five common-sense principles which government, business and consumers can use as a guide to make better decisions.
- Be fair across current and future generations
- Price carbon pollution
- Consume carefully, travel wisely
- Embrace efficiency, avoid waste
- Nurture nature
By applying these principles to our daily lives – our diets, homes, travel, shopping and leisure activities – we can regenerate nature and improve our society, make us healthier, happier and lead more fulfilled lives.
The common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises are summarised as:
Reduce our need to travel and electrify remaining travel.
Invest in innovative solutions to increase the efficiency of industry, decarbonise our electricity generation and heat production.
Consume fewer manufactured goods, and for business to adopt circular economy approaches to what we do consume.
Stop deforestation, restore degraded land.
Shift to a plant-based diet.
Amidst all the bad news, there are grounds for hope – this popular science book concludes with a green action plan for government, business and individuals to make better Carbon Choices.