There are lots of different ways to educate yourself on climate change and issues of sustainability so we have out together a summer watch list of documentaries, series and films for you to enjoy whilst educating yourself on sustainability. This list is by no means comprehensive but is just to give you an idea of some of things you can watch about different issues.
Our hands tell our story. They show our past and can predict our future but we rarely remember to take care of them.
The purpose of SDG 15 is to highlight, act on and reverse the damage we have done to our planet. The statistics on the toll that human activity is taking on our planet are astonishing: between 1990 and 2016 the world lost over 500,000 square miles of forest; we have also contributed to what is being referred to as the sixth mass extinction, with a total reduction in the animal population of up to 60% since 1970.
To reverse the current trend, and to restore a more harmonious balance with our world, requires a joint global effort. All sections of international society need to come together and take a more holistic view on the damage that each of us is contributing to our planet. Below are some of the ways that we can work to achieve this objective.
Many of the devastating actions that humans are taking is in the pursuit of business and is the effect of consumer demand in wealthier countries. For example, mass deforestation is the product of a huge demand for timber, and for agricultural land to rear livestock and to grow crops such as oil palm. These products are then sent through a complex, and opaque supply chain before ending up on supermarket shelves with the consumer often completely unaware of the damage their bought products have caused. By making supply chains transparent companies can be sure that their business activities are not contributing towards the destruction of our planet, and consumers can make more informed decisions about the products they buy.
Supporting Innovative Climate Initiatives
Reversing the damage that has already been caused by human activity requires people to come together to repair, and fight back, against the destructive forces that are destroying individual climates across the world. One example of this joint effort is the Great Green Wall that is being grown across the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara. In recent years the increase in the temperatures experienced in the Sahel region have caused accelerated desertification. This means that habitats are dying out, crops can’t grow and the people who live there are struggling for adequate resources. To fight back against this desertification Sahel inhabitants, with support from international organisations and businesses, have been planting a wall of trees across the southern border between the Sahara and the Sahel regions. This joint effort means that desertification will be slowed, and the ground will be able to hold more water, bringing life back to the region.
Protecting our Wildlife
Since 1970, it is thought that the number of animals on Earth has reduced by up to 60%. This decrease is the result of actions such as over-fishing, climate destruction and hunting many species to, or to the brink of, extinction. To preserve the magnificent, and diverse, range of life on our planet we need to take action now and ensure that we protect species from destructive human activity, and restore the habitats that they have lost.
Find out more about SDG 15 here
If ever there was a time to consider the human impact on the environment and make changes, it is this moment, now.
The worlds oceans cover over two thirds of the Earth’s surface and represents 99% of the planets living space by volume; our oceans are also home to potentially millions of species and absorb around 30% of all CO2 produced by humans. It is also estimated that around 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity as part of their livelihoods. Our oceans are essential for the prosperity of our planet; and yet, despite this, human activity is rapidly deteriorating the health of our oceans by producing to many harmful gasses, overfishing and by dumping billions of tons of plastic. The aggregated effect of these actions means that: sea levels are rising at an ever-increasing rate, millions of marine animals are being killed and the oceans are rapidly becoming more acidic. So, what can we do to help stop this from happening?
Use Less Plastic
Plastic pollution is one of the largest single concerns regarding human effects on sea life. As a species we dump millions of tons of plastic into our oceans every year: this then ends up being consumed by marine life that mistakes it for food. To prevent this from happening the best thing you can do is to buy less plastic, and to recycle more when you do use plastic. Many of the plastic products that we use, that could otherwise be recycled, end up on landfill sites. Next time you’re about to throw away some plastic packaging quickly check to see if the packaging is recyclable: packaging that can be recycled will say so on the label and will also feature the universal logo for recycling. Also try to use a reusable water bottle or coffee cup next time you go out for a drink.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Increased carbon dioxide emissions have caused our oceans to rapidly become more acidic, which is harmful for many of our ocean’s species. The best way to help combat this on an individual basis is to try and reduce your personal carbon footprint. One way you can do this is by using more public transport: if you’re travelling solo, your carbon footprint for each journey could be cut by around 75% by using the train rather than driving. Also try buying more local products as they have a reduced environmental footprint compared to imported products.
There a many ways you can help support our worlds oceans. You could start by doing some volunteering work with the Students Union, or other organisation to help clean-up our waters. You could also take part in the climate strikes, and other initiatives to promote a less toxic world. Or, you could simply help inform more people about the troubles our oceans are facing: the more we know the more we can do collectively to prevent a catastrophe.
Find out more about SDG 14 here
Canterbury has amazing recycling facilities in that they are able to recycle a variety of waste products for free for their residents. If you are able to recycle why not make the most of it in your student house, not only is it an active way to help protect the environment but it also means you’ll have far less rubbish sitting in your kitchen!
One region that is already feeling the catastrophic effects of climate change is the Sahel region at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. In recent years this region has experienced persistent droughts, and a degradation of agricultural lands. Because of the lack of water and fertile land this region suffers from an acute lack of resources which causes starvation and poorer living conditions for the millions which inhabit the area.
To fight back against the effects of climate change 21 African nations have joined together in a joint venture: this venture plans to build an 8,000 km wall across the width of Africa from Senegal to Djibouti. The joint venture is known as The Great Green Wall and it has already started to reverse the harmful effects of desertification in the Sahel region: in Niger over 5 million hectares of land has been reclaimed for agricultural purposes and is providing an extra 500,000 tonnes of grain per year, in Senegal over 12 million drought resistant trees have been planted meaning the land retains more water which creates a more fertile soil.
As well as tackling the effects of climate change the Great Green Wall addresses multiple sustainability related issues in the region fulfilling the criteria of 15/17 of the United Nations sustainable development goals. The initiative is only possible because of collaboration between nations and the communities responsible for growing the wall. This collaboration has also contributed to the decline in conflict in the Sahel region. For years the lack of resources in the area has meant that the Sahel region has witnessed increased levels of conflict as people fight for the remaining limited resources in the region. Because the Great Green Wall is bringing both agricultural and economic prosperity the availability of resources has improved which has meant that the cause for much of the conflict in the region has been removed. The increased economic income has also improved the educational prospects for millions of people as more investment is made in providing local schools and families are able to afford the extra costs of education.
The holistic approach that the Great Green Wall initiative has taken is the only way in which we can all really create a sustainable future. For long term environmental initiatives to truly work they also need to be both socially and economically sustainable.
To find out more about The Great Green Wall click here