Greta Thunberg On How We Can All Be Climate Positive Travelers

The Swedish Climate Activist’s Upcoming Book Offers Advice On How To Travel Better.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg first came to the world’s attention as a teenager when she spoke up at a United Nations summit in 2019, imploring all to take the climate crisis more seriously. Now, she’s created The Climate Book in collaboration with the founder of the FridaysForFuture global youth movement.

The book—which is available for pre-order now—is a comprehensive compendium of essays, scientific facts, anthropologic observations, and think pieces from some of the most respected minds and writers, including Kate Raworth, Naomi Klein, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, and George Monbiot. One thing is clear: we don’t have time to waste, and we need to strive for more climate positivity whenever, however, and wherever, we roam.

As the United Nations climate conference COP27 happens in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, sustainability editor Juliet Kinsman shares thoughts and advice from Greta Thunberg and some of the world’s leading climate-action communicators as featured in The Climate Book.

Educate yourself

“Educating yourself about the climate crisis is one of the most powerful things we can do,” Greta told the audience of the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre at the global launch of The Climate Book. A good start is to watch the talk Greta gave, then read this five-part tome, which breaks down the facts with emotive stories, graphs, and powerful photographs. As Margaret Atwood puts it in the book: “We have a lot of knowledge: we know what the problems are, and we know—more or less—what must be done to solve them.”

Understand the science

Picture : Mail _ Guardian

“The sustainability crisis is a crisis of information not getting through,” says Greta. In using her high profile and platform to promote this 400-page-plus book, she’s upping awareness in everything from melting ice shelves to economics, as well as fast fashion and the loss of species. Global warming is, of course, caused by too many human-generated emissions fueling the Greenhouse Effect, where gases are trapped in the atmosphere causing the planet to heat up to dangerous levels that sparks extreme weather, such as wildfire-inducing heatwaves, devastating droughts but also flash floods.

Meanwhile, our oceans are under siege: the melting of the ice caps results in rising sea levels, and increased temperatures cause acidification which messes with all manner of marine life. Our planet’s functions are all interconnected. Concerns such as the loss of fertile soils, air pollution, and water shortages are part of a bigger picture that has implications for all eight billion of us.

Travel better

Consider greener modes of travel, opt for electric options, and take public transport: trains, trams, buses, and ferries. Greta urges authorities to offer low-carbon logistics free of charge and subsidize trains instead of planes, while we explore car-pooling and car-sharing options. And, of course, Greta highlights that the tourism industry makes up around eight percent of global emissions and flags that the world’s wealthiest are guilty of 50 percent of all aviation’s emissions. This is why we need to make those contrails count when we travel, and support communities in developing nations, by leaving as much in local pockets as possible.

Do away with disposability

Our addiction to plastic is killing us. Microplastics are contaminating every aspect of our environment. Plus, plastics are made using petrochemicals—we need to reuse all that we can. It’s clear a shift back to longer-lasting products that stay in circulation is key. Generations ago, this was how so many cultures rolled, yet today we don’t give a second thought to so much single-use. Help swerve the plundering of natural resources and energy used to produce all those throwaway goods, and keep extending the life span of all you use.

Support rewilding efforts

Help the restoration of forests, wetlands, savannahs, reefs, and other depleted ecosystems by choosing nature-positive activities and, in turn, help the regeneration of life on Earth, which will also draw down much of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere. “We must start working with nature instead of against it,” says George Monbiot in the book. “Rewilding enables us to begin to heal some of the great damage we have inflicted on the living world.”

Boost biodiversity

All ecosystems are interconnected, and every cog is required to keep this machine called planet Earth functioning. Us paying for trips and activities that provide revenue for wildlife conservation is critical since countless plants and animal species face extinction—and with the loss of each species, we are one step closer to destroying the web of life that sustains us all. Climate change is accelerating the loss of species, and the loss of species is accelerating climate change. Both problems must be solved at the same time to protect our way of life. Greta’s short film #ForNature released to mark Biodiversity Day 2021 was a potent reminder.

Be more conscious, considerate consumers

We need to move away from our voracious consumption of goods and things, be less individualistic and make more responsible choices to reduce negative ecological impact, emphasizes Kate Raworth, author of Donut Economics. Among the economist’s tips for lower-carbon living in The Climate Book are keeping electronic products for much longer, buying less brand-new fashion, minimizing short-haul flights—in summary, possessing and using less, and sharing more.

Shift towards a plant-based diet

We may not be able to fix everything in a click of our fingers by going vegan, Greta shrugged in her talk at the Southbank. But as Michael Clark notes in The Climate Book, a drop in meat and dairy production will drastically reduce emissions from farming and spare land from deforestation. The more of us eating and drinking fewer animal-origin goods the better.

Challenge greenwashing

With antennae that are finely tuned to pick up on hollow promises and hot air aimed at earning the declarant a halo they don’t deserve, Greta makes a call to call out greenwash and false sustainability claims. Her particular bugbear is the greenwashing of sustainable consumerism, challenging the brands that try and tell us we can buy and pamper our way out of this mess; we need to take a more holistic view of the causes and symptoms of the climate emergency.

Be an activist

“In order to change things, we need everyone—we need billions of activists,” says Greta. Advocate for climate change by marching, boycotting, striking, and talking loudly about social injustices and inequities and asking more questions.

This article was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller U.K.

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