We, as individuals as well as governments and corporations, are not doing enough to save the planet

NOTE: It must be stated that not everybody is in a position to make the changes suggested below: often, environmental action is unfortunately consigned to wealthier members of society. Subsidisation of vegan vegetarian food would aid the accessibility of environmentalism for everyone. The article writer would also like to stress the importance of large corporations and governments to do more to combat climate change. Individual action is not insignificant, but it is perhaps most powerful in terms of challenging the market to change. As stated, politicians must be at the forefront when tackling climate change. Unfortunately, environmentalism is a grass-roots movement, and governments must see individuals’ desire for environmentally-friendly policies in order to act on them.

The same week that saw countless articles, tweets and TV spots lauding Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, environmentalists, for using a private jet was also notable for its relative lack of coverage of the burning of the Amazon rainforest, natural storehouse of 100 years’ worth of human carbon emission.

There is, admittedly, not much ordinary people can do to slow or stop the fire, besides from putting pressure on the government to act.

Indeed, the idea that it should be the onus of the government, rather than the individual, to solve environmental issues is thrown around a lot, including by myself. Unfortunately, governments don’t often play ball, having more of a vested interest in their relationships with businesses and corporations than in the life of and on our planet.

Individuals and smaller communities, therefore, must take the first step in the march toward ending global warming, by raising awareness and in doing so shifting market demands away from products which are oil and single-use plastic based to more sustainable alternatives. Not everybody can do everything, but everybody can and must do something to guarantee the survival of life on earth.

The time span in which we can hope is diminishing rapidly

And yes, the stakes really are that high – centuries of lack of foresight, coupled with decades of dismissing climate change experts as fearmongers, has led to many civilians actively turning blind eyes toward activities which are self-evidently damaging, but encouraged by the market.

There is still hope. Already, increased environmental awareness has led to a reduction in single-use plastic packaging, people turning vegan annually by the thousands, and the production and successful sale of more eco-friendly electronic vehicles. However, the time span in which we can hope is diminishing rapidly, as people continue to refuse to enact lifestyle changes, believing that their actions will not contribute to either slowing or quickening climate change and the rising of sea waters.

The Amazon fires are widely believed to be caused directly by human activities

But everybody has an impact on the environment, by influencing the markets and peers. Every person turning vegetarian, every vegetarian turning vegan, every person refusing to buy a car and instead travel exclusively by public transport is another foot soldier in the fight against climate change and the ignorance which has allowed this global catastrophe to go on for way to long. We must all buy products which have less disposable packaging, we must all travel less (myself included), and we must all admit that reckless consumption of animal products is causing irreversible damage to the environment.

The Amazon fires are widely believed to be caused directly by human activities, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsosnaro have encouraged the fires to increase the land available for agriculture. In the UK, the construction of the third runway at Heathrow represents similar short-sighted, finance-driven mindsets in our own country which puts the growth of economy above the protection of the only planet we have to live on.

International governments need to do more to slow and stop climate change. But they only will once the people have given them no other option than to do so.

Matteo Everett

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