Climate change is a phenomenon largely driven by daily human choices and activities. Murali Ram and Rexy Prakash Chacko, authors of Creating Future-Proof Cities: How to Navigate the Climate Crisis (Areca Books), outline a framework for building resilient cities in the tropics, benchmarked to good global practices.
While the book largely deals with the realities and best practices applicable to policymakers, it also lists actions individuals can take to help fight the climate crisis. Here are 12 such actions:
1. Alter your diet
Transition to a plant-based diet, or at least cut down your consumption of dairy products and meat from cows, goats, sheep. Ruminant-farming releases a huge amount of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.
2. Go zero-waste
Practise and support waste prevention habits, such as going zero-waste. In particular, reduce food and packaging waste (e.g. compost organic waste, bring along your own containers). The 5R mantra plays a part in our environment sustainability:
- Rethink before acquiring and disposing — do you really need it?
- Reduce your use of products that are harmful for the environment
- Reuse items you already have instead of buying
- Repair broken items
- Recycle products or items that are recyclable instead of disposing.
3. Family planning
You might dream of starting a family — maybe even a big one. The rate of increase in population size and population affluence is closely linked to the increasing carbon footprint of humankind to our planet. Avoid having more than 2 biological children to help manage our carbon footprint.
4. Go-green commute
Instead of utilising your own fossil-powered vehicles, try green transportation alternatives. Practise using active transportation (walking or cycling), or take public transport. At least aim to reduce private vehicle travel by 50%, which will reduce issues related to carbon emissions, noise pollution and traffic jams.
5. Avoid and reduce long-distance travels
Reducing long-distance aviation travel by 50% also improves our environment. Aircraft and cruise ship engines emit heat, particulates and gases which all contribute to climate change. Instead of travelling long distances for a meeting or vacation, try utilising other communication tech, such as video conference calls, and choose short-distance vacations.
6. Buy local goods
When buying goods, prioritise locally- or regionally-produced goods to manage “food-miles” and “product-miles”.
7. Invest considerately
Owning properties seems like a sound investment, but treating real estate as investment portfolios leads to resource wastage, inflation, and property overhang. Avoid purchasing more than one real estate property per household, and avoid using real estate as an investment portfolio.
8. Educate your communities
Engage in conversations about the climate crisis and good environmental practices in your various circles and with different communities (e.g. schoolchildren, residents’ associations, businesses, family). It is crucial that the public be aware of these issues so that they can take a stand and make a difference.
9. Monitor energy usage
Conduct an in-house or in-office audit to assess current energy usage. Obtain recommendations on more energy-efficient options, and alternate to renewable energy sources. Set energy consumption saving targets at home and in the office.
10. Hold elected representatives accountable
Be an active citizen. Call upon elected representatives and your local council to take climate change seriously, and demand for protection and restoration of peat swamps, mangrove swamps and rainforests. Support civil society initiatives that protect the environment.
11. Bring nature into your homes
Urban areas suffer from the heat island effect that raises ambient temperatures. Urban areas also disrupt natural biodiversity systems. Advocate to communities of all levels the practice of planting trees, especially fruit trees; and the benefits of urban farming. If you are new to this, start small.
12. Choose renewable energy sources
Install rooftop solar panels in your house or office building. Replacing energy generation powered by fossil fuels with renewable sources (such as solar power) at home and in the office will reduce our carbon emissions.
We should all acknowledge the importance of addressing the climate crisis. Let us play our part and help future generations in sustaining the health of our planet.
Purchase a copy of Creating Future-Proof Cities from Areca Books.
This article is written by Aliah Shamsul, an intern at Think City. Aliah has a background in Mass Communications and Public Relations.
Editor’s note: Author Murali Ram is a Programme Director at Think City.