Welcome to the final week of Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions! The 8 weeks have flown by, and a lot of massively important issues have been discussed on the course. This week, we turn towards action – what can we do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure we live more within our means and reduce our impact on the planet? You’ve been posting some fantastic responses on the discussion boards, but, as this is the final week of the 4 year course run, I’ve asked facilitators from every year of the course to tell us what they’ve been doing since and how the MOOC has changed the ways they’ve taken action.
Dr Chris Boulton – 2014 Facilitator
Since I was a facilitator on this course when it first started, I have been very impressed with the push my local council has given to recycling. They have overhauled their system which has made everyone more aware of the things that can be recycled nowadays. On a more personal level, I am much more conscious of the food I buy, both the volume (so I don’t end up have to waste things) and also the source of the food. The more local, the less miles it’s had to travel! I’m working with colleagues to create an event in July in Exeter to teach people about the benefits of climate change action, not just for the environment but for themselves too. We plan for it to include ‘spheres’ of people’s lives such as Home and Technology, Transportation and Travel, Diet etc. and will show them how they can enjoy health benefits for example as well as being more energy conscious.
Regina Gonda – 2017 Facilitator
To be honest I was really surprised that my carbon footprint is currently 110%. And it obviously has to go below 100%. I am mainly vegetarian, I only eat meat occasionally, about twice a month. Here in Exeter, where I live, I literally walk to everywhere. And when I go farther away I use public transport. The flat where I live got double-glazed windows and solid wall insulation last year. I recycle everything I can and I use energy-efficient light bulbs. So I think I’m doing pretty good.
But since I live 1200 miles from my family, I fly home usually twice a year. I believe this is what makes my carbon footprint so high. So in order to meet the below 100% target, I have to make more effort at home to be more energy-efficient. I will make sure that I and my flatmate turns off the light and devices all the time when they are not needed and put more effort in buying locally sourced food.
Rebecca Osmaston – 2015 Facilitator
Since working on the MOOC in 2015, I homed in on sustainability-related modules during a year studying at the University of Adelaide. I conducted a research report in conjunction with the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on communicating climate change and organised an event on this for business leaders working with Adelaide’s Science Exchange and Dr Paul Willis. The report found that audiences have an appetite for more information on the economic, political and health impacts of climate change in particular and a political response to an economic overview was called for.
I did feel guilty about my carbon footprint from the air miles travelling over to Australia but made sure I did not return to the UK until I finished studying and working there. I also opted to travel by train when possible (11 hours between neighbouring cities and the trains only ran twice a week!) Seeing the effects of climate change first hand on the Great Barrier Reef and alarming retreat rate of glaciers in New Zealand was sobering and strengthened my resolution to tackle climate change.
Upon graduating in July with a degree in Geography and Sustainability, my aim is to continue to spread awareness of the challenges and solutions of climate change. Exactly how, I’m not sure, but I feel I’ve at least made a start and I do know that this requires influencing other individuals to take responsibility as well as larger organisations. Therefore I am currently looking into sustainability consultancy so that I can ensure large companies are doing their bit to tackle climate change. I am open to taking different paths but believe that action must stem from myself, the other MOOC coordinators and any of the course participants to take responsibility, educate and inspire others. I hope this course has encouraged you to take the next step!
Daneen Cowling – 2017 Facilitator
So far I have taken action to reduce my carbon footprint by;
- Making sure all taps, lights and plug sockets when no longer being used – I feel very strongly about this and tell my friends and family off when they forget!
- I try to use the suns energy as much as I can, whether it be for natural light so I don’t have to use my room light, or to dry washing so I don’t have to use the tumble dryer
- I avoid public transport, partly because of cost but also because it is explicitly visible how polluting they are, especially buses! Actually seeing and smelling the black sooty smoke come out the back makes me willing to walk/cycle even in the rain
- At home, we try to grow our own veg to avoid buying packaged stuff from the supermarket, and we have chickens so we don’t have to buy eggs
- We also have an energy monitor to tell us the amount and cost of energy we use each day, that changes in real time. This is useful to see how it changes after using each appliance so we know how to use electricity more efficiently
Although I feel like I’m doing a lot, I would love to do more! For example, I am a big meat lover, so at the moment it is really hard to reduce my intake of that. I would also like to try alternative diets e.g. other sources of protein from bugs etc., however this isn’t really available to try in the U.K yet. Of course, flying is also something I wish was avoidable, although I don’t fly often it still doesn’t feel great when I have to. But unfortunately cleaner alternatives are not yet available.
Alexandra McLeod – 2016 Facilitator
As a BSc Geography student, taking part in the MOOC blog was a great way to aid my studies and get experience in the media industry both at the same time!
I have since taken up lots of opportunities at the University of Exeter that involve sustainability and improving environmental awareness. After doing the blog, I was inspired to be a ‘Green Consultant’ which involved carrying out a paper recycling project on campus. This is the document we created: https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/IgZftoQbcvRyBr
I was also a member of the ‘Students’ Green Unit’ and took part in ‘Grand Challenges’ last summer; a climate change based week-long project. Our campaign page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/worththeearth/?ref=ts&fref=ts
I’m now on my year abroad in Bordeaux, France studying modules on sustainable cities and resource scarcity. I’m looking forward to returning to Exeter in September for my final year. After that, I hope to perhaps start a career in environmental consulting for online media companies.
Davide Pettinator – 2017 Facilitator
In my daily life, I try to minimise my personal carbon footprint through a series of simple actions and consumption choices that either reduce behaviours or the use of products that involve high CO2 emissions, or support eco-friendly alternatives. Examples are:
- Saving Energy (e.g. turning the lights off)
- Reducing, Reusing and Recycling – buy less stuff (e.g. clothes, electronic devices), try to fix things when possible (rather than just replacing with new items), use recycling bins (at least for paper, plastic, and glass)
- Reducing travel carbon footprint (e.g. use mainly public transport, bike, or walk)
- Reducing meat consumption and food waste
- Buying eco friendlyand/or recycled products (e.g.: printing paper)
- Buying locally produced(and/or fairtrade) food
In light of my research: perhaps is little know, but UK Muslim NGOs are quite active on climate change, coordinated through the Muslim Climate Action (MCA) – a group of UK Muslim organisations concerned about climate change: http://www.muslimclimateaction.org.uk/
Josh Williams – 2016 Facilitator
In terms of action that I have been taking, I think the main thing is almost completely cutting beef out of my diet, given that it is widely considered to have the biggest impact upon climate out of the various livestock types (in truly scholarly fashion I’ve had a quick google and found a paper which argues this, which can be found here). I would like to progress to a more vegetarian-based diet, and so am looking to eat vegetarian for a few days each week.
Regarding research, I am currently studying for a PhD as part of the Cryosphere group at the University of Edinburgh. My project aims to further our knowledge on historical changes in ice velocity on Greenland (see Tedstone et al which forms part of the basis behind the project), as, given the lack of uniformity in observed changes on Greenland, a consolidation of the record of annual velocity over the last 40 years will extend confidence on velocity trends, and improve the potential for determining the statistical significance of the atmosphere and/or ocean in forcing a dynamic response in the marine terminating glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
I hope this, and our global Climate course, has inspired you to take action and to reduce your own personal carbon footprint.
And with that, my final blog post as an ExClimate facilitator – although lots still to come on the key themes of the course!
With very best wishes,
Liam and all ExClimate Facilitators