Julia Beatty, chair of Shuswap Climate Action, provides a number of ways people can make a difference, individually and together, in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions as extreme weather from climate change escalates. (File photo)

Julia Beatty, chair of Shuswap Climate Action, provides a number of ways people can make a difference, individually and together, in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions as extreme weather from climate change escalates. (File photo)

Christmas & climate change: Shuswap environmentalist recommends planet-friendly season

Chair of Shuswap Climate Action provides ways individuals can also help reduce emissions year round

Heat domes, forest fires, floods – what’s next?

While climate change has already wreaked havoc in many parts of the world, Shuswap Climate Action has made the decision, like many organizations and individuals, to act rather than sit idle and watch the devastation escalate.

Julia Beatty, chair of Shuswap Climate Action, said as a biologist she was heartened during the 2019 federal election to see the environment was one of the top three issues. Shuswap Climate Action was subsequently born that year, now with about 40 members.

Some of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in personal carbon footprints come from transportation – personal vehicles and flights, buildings, home efficiency and agriculture, she said. While some ways of reducing emissions cost money, others cost nothing and can save you money.

“Not eating beef or reducing your meat intake is a big one, as an example. Replacing some of your animal-based foods with plant-based foods,” she said, also mentioning less dairy. “Not everyone is going to become a vegan. But I’ve heard it said, it could really reduce greenhouse gases if people ate only one hamburger per week.”

She said people are starting to demand that buildings are constructed to conserve energy and use materials that aren’t big emitters.

”We’ve got the technology and it’s just the will to do it that’s kind of lacking.”

She points to heat pumps, an efficient and economical way to heat and cool homes. While they are more expensive initially, she said, they save in the long run.

Beatty mentioned that electric and induction stoves emit less GHGs than gas.

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Asked if she thinks the smaller things individuals do can actually make enough of a dent when there are other bigger polluters, she responded: “I actually do. As consumers, we create the map. And we know business listens to those demands. So if we all start to pull together in the same direction, I think it would be rather amazing to see the transformation that occurs.”

Regarding the high use of air travel and the argument that people would be flying in that aircraft anyway, she refers again to consumer demand. More demand puts more airplanes in the air.

As for personal vehicles, she points to less use, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and reducing idling to no longer than 30 seconds.

With Christmas on the way, she said one big support for the planet is consuming less – not only at Christmas but always.

“Giving isn’t just giving material things, it’s giving of yourself.”

She said a gift of time, cooking a meal for someone who is under the weather or making homemade gifts are possibilities.

In response to the argument that if people buy less, then businesses will suffer when they’ve already been struggling during the pandemic, she said businesses, like everyone, will have to transform expectations.

“If there’s no planet, businesses aren’t going to be doing well,” she remarked.

Beatty said consumers are increasing demand for more ethical services and products, which include considering GHGs. She thinks such innovations can also be a moneymaker for business.

To find ongoing information on how to reduce GHGs, go to the Shuswap Climate Action website. The Sept. 24, 2020 newsletter contains a list of ways to to reduce personal carbon footprints.

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She said it is also important to lobby all levels of government to do more.

Asked about her passion for combatting climate change, Beatty referred to her role as a biologist.

“I did over 30 years of government service with the Ministry of Environment as an impact assessment biologist. So I’ve seen it all. We did evaluations of emissions into the air and discharges into streams and lakes, and from all kinds of industry, agriculture, municipal, you name it. I think having seen that, you get a different frame of reference on the whole world.”

Beatty quoted famed anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

She said people can do many things to make a difference, one of them talking to friends and family about climate change. “Asking how that’s affecting you and what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and to help make a transformative and resilient community.”

Beatty said she’s enjoyed hearing stories during the recent flooding where people have been helping each other.

“One of the biggest things that can fight climate change is the community, our community. If we get together as a community, we can really do a lot of good.”

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