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Every cloud has a silver lining: Could there be benefits to climate change?

In preparing, adapting, and trying to prevent dangerous climate change we could see lots of positive results in our lives and in society. Most of these will be people-powered. By getting involved, we can start taking back control of our lives, building links with others who are doing the same, and making sure politicians actually represent our wishes.

A lot of the changes we need to make will save us money, but more importantly these changes will be good for our families, our communities, and ourselves. Also, bear in mind that when we start to detox from greenhouse gases, we are also helping people in places where they are experiencing more extreme effects of climate change.

Better communities

Curb East Street

Photo: Curb at East Street Arts Festival

As more people become aware of climate change as an issue, they are starting to come together to take actions which make us more resilient, but which are also fun! We have already started to see responses which bring us together more as a community, such as the Transition movement, the Climate Rally last year, Curb (The Real Junk Food Project) and Dangerous Ideas. In Southampton, there are many events bringing people together.

Natural, healthy, delicious food

Vegan burgers

 Photo: Food52.com

By reducing your meat intake, you’ll not only feel healthier and reduce your waistline, it’s good for the planet too! And you’ll be in good company – these celebrities have already gone vegan. Not ready to give up meat and cheese just yet? Try Meat free Mondays, either vegetarian or vegan. Get your food porn fix meal inspiration here. Buying local from the greengrocer, baker, butcher and wholefoods shop, the food you buy is fresher, you’ll have a more pleasant shopping experience, and keep money within the local area.

More in touch with nature

Urbane forager

Photo: The Urbane Forager

As various aspects of nature become more under threat, we start to take notice more, and fight to preserve what we have left. Spending more time in nature, perhaps foraging, can be a great way to entertain the kids. We are very lucky to live in a city with a very large common. Its 326 acres consists of woodland, parkland, ponds, wetlands, nature trails. It even has its own nature centre – the Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre.

Wasting less

Curb

Photo: Curb

In the UK, we import 40% of the food we consume. At the same time, ‘wonky’ vegetables are being turned away by supermarkets. Campaigns have started to have a real impact, meaning that farmers should get paid better for the hard work they put in to feeding us, and making us less reliant on imports. In reducing our food waste, it will also save us money; it’s estimated that wasted food costs us £15,000-£24,000 per person over a lifetime!

There are also waste food cafes popping up all over the country, such as Curb in Southampton. These help us to re-think how we value the food we eat or throw away. If we do have to throw food away, if we compost it (in a subsidised compost bin), we improve soil fertility for the garden too.

Healthier

car free

Photo: Bogota car-free week via The Better Awards

As we walk and cycle more, we will be fitter and healthier (and again save money), and our streets will be safer and more pleasant to be in. Increased use of electric cars (powered by the increased uptake of clean energy) will mean our air will be cleaner to breathe. Many cities around the world are having car-free days, or even car-free weeks! In Southampton, where over 100 people die each year from air pollution, this is an important issue.

There are loads of initiatives set up to help you learn to cycle, and maintain your bike cheaply. The Bike Kitchen runs every Monday, an initiative started by SoMakeIt and My Journey Southampton, or take it to the Bike Doctor.

Reliable, secure energy and more jobs

West Solent Solar

 Photo: West Solent Solar Co-operative

Better insulated homes stay warmer in winter, and modern appliances and cars are more efficient, wasting less energy. Increased use of clean energy will boost jobs and reduce our reliance of foreign imports of oil. You could even be making money on the energy you generate through solar panels. Larger-scale solar farms incorporate wildflower meadows, which support local wildlife. In addition, there are over 100,000 jobs in renewable energy; one of the only industries which is growing in the UK.

More relaxing holidays

scottish steam train

Photo: Jacobite Steam Railway

The price of oil may be coming down, but we know we must keep it in the ground in order to reduce our impacts on the climate. Rather than jumping on a plane each year to start our holidays, if we re-evaluate what’s important to us about our leisure time we just might find that we have a more relaxing trip staying closer to home (and boost our country’s economy into the bargain). Travelling closer to home, you can discover some amazing places, such as travelling to the Scottish Highlands on the sleeper train. The journey is incredibly beautiful, much more relaxed than a flight – no humiliating and degrading security checks, and no worrying about what liquids you can carry on board (I suggest taking a bottle of bubbly!)

More united

blitz spirit

Photo: via Pinterest

Problems we face united, bring us together. During the wars of the last century we did unite in a common cause, the ‘blitz spirit’.  Nobody would want to go to war – just as we don’t want to experience disastrous climate change – but the investment made during the wars did lead to massive social and technological advances. Investment in research and development of clean energy and safer road infrastructure are two areas where government needs to step up, and we need to engage our politicians to tell them this is important to us.

Many of you reading this article will already have noticed some of these benefits, because you are engaging in the solutions. Please share some of this by starting a discussion about climate change with someone who isn’t part of the conversation yet.

 

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