by Fran Withrow
Despite what Trump might say, I firmly believe we are in the midst of climate change, and I was heartbroken that he refused to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. But I felt renewed hope for the earth when I read Newfoundland research scientist Brett Favaro’s “The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero.”
Never have I come across such a clear and readable explanation for what climate change is and how it occurs. Favaro tells all in a way that even a non-scientist like me can understand. Then he discusses how each of us can reduce our impact, both individually and politically.
Thinking about how we as individuals can reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change feels impossible. But Favaro assures us that climate change heroes are everywhere, and together, our small contributions really can make a world of difference. He emphasizes that we in developed countries can take action without feeling deprived. But we’ve got to get going, he says, because time is running out.
Favaro discusses specific, doable ways to minimize our carbon footprints by creating a “carbon code of conduct, “consisting of four “R’s:” (I must confess I found it difficult to remember them: they are too similar to “reduce, reuse, recycle.” But the suggestions still make a lot of sense.)
One way to reduce carbon usage is to eat less beef, because cows themselves are enormous carbon emitters. (And of course raising them takes a heavy toll on the earth as well.) You could take the train instead of the plane as a way to replace carbon intensive activities. (Always think lower and slower in terms of less carbon intensive transportation. Hm. I better get out my bike.) If you combine a business trip with a vacation, you are refining your activities in order to get the most benefit out of them. And we need to rehabilitate the atmosphere, which could be accomplished by purchasing carbon credits.
The book is full of thought-provoking ideas. Did you know the most carbon efficient car to drive is probably the one you already have? It takes a tremendous amount of energy to build a new car, so hold onto your old one. Favaro also talks extensively about electric cars that require no fossil fuels to operate as the most energy efficient means of travel. And don’t get him started on cruise ships: they use massive amounts of carbon with every trip.
Finally, Favaro talks about how we can advocate for climate change politically. With our current White House administration, this may be the most challenging obstacle facing us, but it is vital that we urge our members of Congress to support legislation aimed at combatting climate change.
Becoming a climate change hero needs to happen now, and the carbon code “does not require perfection.” But it does require a commitment from each one of us. Favaro quotes Rumi to sum it all up: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero”
by Brett Favaro
Johns Hopkins University Press