How not to enjoy sunshine (and make a difference to climate change)

By Jessica Edney and Ruby Martin


Britons everywhere emerged from winter hibernation early as the UK experienced record temperatures for February last week. The British knee, which is usually elusive at this time of year and prone to shyness at least until May, was spotted in parks around the country. “Skies out, thighs out” was a mantra taken seriously by the British population – and who can blame them? We all remember the misery caused by the #beastfromtheeast, which struck in February 2018. Don’t we deserve a bit of mystery sunshine?

Even though it’s February. Which is in winter. Christmas was only two months ago, remember that?

If, like me, you are constantly looking for signs that the apocalypse is approaching, you might not have enjoyed the unexpected micro-summer. Instead, your internal monologue might have gone something like this:

“This is not normal. This is not normal. I should be wet, cold and miserable. I should be complaining through November – March about having to go outside. I should not be lingering in the outdoors, I should be actively sprinting between inside places. WHAT IS HAPPENING. IS THIS THE END?”

And so on.

And yes, I am aware that #weatherisnotclimate. Thank you, I do read the articles. I am aware that Seattle recently had the heaviest snowfall in seventy years, which prompted a whole bunch of very (self-declared) smart people to point out this “proof” that global warming is a hoax concocted by the Chinese for… reasons?

Didn’t they say the same about the aforementioned Beast from The East (never forget), when all the trains got cancelled and my next-door neighbour built a charming snowman?

“Could do with a bit of global warming now,” joked everyone. As if a complex global climatic system only worked in terms of up and down. The same people are hoping that “global warming continues” because a February that isn’t completely shit must be cause

beast from the east
Last year’s ‘Beast from the East’

for celebration. However, as disappointing as it is SAD-stricken folks everywhere (myself included), global warming ≠ perpetual summer. Global warming means chaotic disruption of the climate, and therefore, weather systems. That leads to unusual weather patterns like the one we are experiencing now. Or, if you like: climate change = shit gets weird.

I’m talking snow in Georgia, USA, hurricanes in Hawaii, flooding everywhere, and yes, eating ice cream in a park in mother-effing February. And this is only the beginning. If we don’t drastically halt greenhouse gas emissions, we will be seeing extreme weather the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Look. I’m not saying this to ruin everyone’s day. Ok, maybe I am because while everyone was hastily digging out their summer clothes from the attic and bombarding Instagram with #februaryheatwave, CO2 emissions are rising. The ice caps are melting. We are running out of time to prevent catastrophic climate change because our governments are not taking it seriously. And we are not taking it seriously. Children all over the country and beyond have been ditching school to strike for the climate, asking the people in power why their futures are being stolen from them. And what are the adults doing? Tweeting about how pretty the daffodils are.

Let’s stop fannying about. The kids have woken up to how serious the situation is – why haven’t we? It’s time to put down that Magnum, start actually talking about climate change, and take action.  Many already have, and this is what gives me hope. We’ve seen more and more people getting involved in strikes and demonstrations – meanwhile, the Democrats have released the Green New Deal which aims to tackle climate change on the scale of the Second World War. When the existential dread gets all too real, this is the kind of stuff we need to pay attention to. Giving into despair is deadly; only action brings hope.  But how I can do anything, you ask? Well luckily for you we’ve compiled a little list of small steps you can take to make a big difference:

  1. Campaign.

If you are keen to take part in climate activism, you can join Extinction Rebellion here and campaign for a safer future.

climate change protests
Source: BBC News
  1.  Watch what (and how) you eat.

If activism isn’t really your thing, one of the biggest everyday effects on climate are wasteful farming practices and food waste. This can be helped by changing your diet to contain less meat and dairy.

Also The Guardian released a guide for more sustainable eating busting some common myths that are sold to us.

Additionally, trying to limit how much food we throw away unecessarily – after all the less you buy, the less companies need to make (as well as less packaging). Tips on reducing waste here.

  1. It’s ALL the fashion

Another consuming industry is the clothing industry and the trend for fast fashion (the constant need to buy new clothes to keep on trend) is also using up a lot of power and resources. It’s about time we reject this notion. What’s useful instead is learning to mend and repair your clothes, adjusting when you need (here are some stitching tips to get started). Once an item really cannot be saved beyond repair, the best way to update your wardrobe is to use charity shops (supporting another good cause along the way) or organise a clothes swap with your friends!

  1. Sometimes you shouldn’t fly like a G6.

Whilst you don’t hear many rap songs about getting a train, public transport like trains and buses are far more beneficial for the environment (if feasible of course) then your average Ryanair flight .

These are all good ways to reduce your personal impact and. There’s no reason why you should do all of this alone, either. Talking about these issues and what we can do about them is essential; do let us know in the comments if you have any more handy tips.

By the way, do, by all means, go out and soak up some sunshine. Get your knees out, if you must. Enjoy the beautiful parks, the blue sky and the birdsong, because it’s fucking wonderful to be alive.

Then get involved.


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