TL;DR: This year I'm encouraging you to cut personal emissions by the recommended 45%; here are some ideas for the most effective places to start; I'll share my own resolutions as well. Let's make 2020 the beginning of the end of the crisis.
TL;DR: Yes, I know it's hot. Using the air conditioner is making it hotter; there's a global plan for making air conditioners safe again, but in the meantime we all need to calm down on the air con; 9 obvious things (you might not have thought about) to try before you turn it on.
It's freaking hot. As the planet warms, those of us with access to air conditioning are using it more and more to cope with the heat. But our temporary coping measure is contributing to the accelerating climate problem, in two ways:
For now, you can use your air conditioner less (or not at all!)
There is a plan to phase out HFCs over the next 10 years (it's called the Kigali Accord), but it's still crucial that we manage our use of air conditioners as much as possible while the climate crisis still hangs in the balance and HFCs are still in use.
This feels so obvious, but here are 9 things you can do before you resort to switching on the air conditioner at home this summer.
1. Close all the doors and windows. Early in the morning, while it's still cool, close the blinds against the glaring sun and keep cool air in. This can delay the time before you switch on the aircon by several hours.
2. Then open all the doors and windows. Opening windows on the opposite sides of a building creates cross-breezes, which have a powerful capacity to keep the place feeling cool. This might be enough to keep you from using the air conditioning at all.
3. Get outside. Sitting out on your deck or in the backyard (if you have one) can be significantly cooler. Even better if you have a wading pool. When a really hot day is forecast, make plans to get yourself to a nearby park, green space, waterhole, public swimming pool, rainforest or beach.
4. Get your feet in water. This is one of the most effective ways to lower your personal body temperature. In our family, we fondly remember the Christmas that we dragged a kiddy pool under the dining table and all sat with our feet in it while we ate Christmas lunch. If you're sitting for prolonged periods (like working on your computer or watching TV), try putting your feet in a bucket of cold water. It works!
5. Make a cold neck wrap. Wrap a few ice cubes in a tea towel or washcloth and sit it on the back of your neck. As the ice cubes melt the cloth becomes soaked and your whole body feels cooler.
6. Get a spray bottle. Water evaporating from your skin makes you feel significantly cooler. Fill a spray bottle with water and spritz yourself from time to time. If you're in a breeze, you'll feel colder straight away.
7. Use the fan. Well, obviously. Before you switch on the air conditioner, do the obvious thing and try using the fan. It uses power, but there's no harmful refrigerant factor. And if you're using an ethical power supplier, you're investing in renewable energy.
8. Go somewhere already air conditioned. Rather than turn on your own air conditioner just for your use (or your family's), go and make use of some energy that's already being burned. Go to the shops, the movies or the local library, or even round to a friend's house where you know they've got the aircon on.
9. Plant a tree. It's not rocket surgery: it's cooler in the shade. Tree cover has a tangible lowering effect on local temperatures. If you have land, fill it with trees. Join in on a local tree-planting effort, give saplings as gifts (and encourage others to plant them), and/or take an active role in shaping your local council's tree-planting policies. It won't pay off right away, but in the long run we'll all be glad we planted more trees.
Feels like a bit of a bad news whatsit this week, doesn't it. So the world is probably definitely going to end pretty soon (but we already knew that). Chin up; there are still humans being wonderful to each other. Let's keep it up.
Some happy climate survival stuff:
Appropriate responses to the bush fires. (Also, yesterday I saw an old guy in the street wearing a T-shirt that said "raving inner-city lunatic". YASSSS!)
We need to keep pushing politicians, but we can also just get on with doing stuff like this: Suburban Australians are disrupting the power industry by storing and sharing solar power across local networks.
I'm in love with my newly installed air quality forecasting app.
I just followed Beautiful News Daily on instagram.
Also, this podcast cuts through the climate change overwhelm with inspiring interviews about positive action.
OKAY FRIDAY TIME NOW.
Other podcasts I'm currently into: Life is Short (Justin Long interviews people who are more famous than him) and Where Should We Begin (relationship expert Esther Perel gives couples counselling sessions IRL).
I still haven't participated in the cultural phenomenon that is Fleabag Season 2 (I know, I feel hopelessly out of touch), but I really enjoyed this interview with Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
This is awesome! New Indigemoji app features emojis based on Indigenous cultural symbols.
My husband was away last weekend so I obviously binged half of the new season of The Crown on Netflix. This piece on the hats of season three is an important read.
Humans of New York is full of sad stories, but this one made me weep subtly in a cafe in a good way.
Books to find at the library this weekend:
The First Time Lauren Pailing Died: one of those books that deals with dark themes in such a way that you just really love every character and feel warm inside. I read this in a weekend.
Nothing to Envy: Interviews about life in North Korea, conducted with people after they defected. So compelling! There were a lot of similarities with stories I've read from communist china (Wild Swans, Mao's Last Dancer, Colours of the Mountain), but if you've never read anything like that, you MUST read this. It's a type of society than we in the West have no frame of reference for.
I LOVE YOU ALL LET'S STICK TOGETHER.
P.S. Please don't get sucked into Black Friday sales. Read my thing about Christmas gifting for un-consumers instead.
TL;DR: This is the ultimate Christmas gift guide for un-consumers! With principles for eco-friendly gift buying, links to sustainable products and lots of ideas.
TL;DR This post could also be named "how your period can change the world"; in which I gush about the life-changing magic of ditching pads and tampons forever; also some ideas for how we can use our privilege to serve women who don't have access to fancy sanitary items, and how empowering women helps fix the climate crisis. SO MANY WINS IN THIS POST YOU GUYS.