5 Ways to Bring the Climate Strike Back Home
As millions around the world gear up to participate in today’s climate strike, it’s important that we remember our work can and should continue beyond whatever marches or other public displays we can participate in. With that in mind, here are five ideas about what we can do to bring the climate strike home and keep up the momentum we want to see from public officials on the scale of our own homes and communities.
Adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective strategies we have for decreasing human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, fresh water use, world hunger, and agricultural colonization of wild lands like the Amazon rain forest. We know that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of species loss, water pollution, habitat destruction, and ocean dead zones, and responsible for up to 91% of the Amazon rain forest's deforestation. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is reporting on the urgent and substantial positive impact of shifting to a plant-based or vegan diet.
Veganism cuts to the heart of one of the most globally destructive, neo-colonial, capitalist industries, and its associated justice movements are among the most widely engaging boycott movements in human history, connecting people across spectrums of race, gender, politics, and class towards the unified goal of dismantling an oppressive industry.
In the inherent contradictions of capitalism, cheap meat and goods containing animal products are made to crowd out healthy, fresh options for urban poor populations in places like the United States, yet on a global economic scale, even these cheap options are built on the colonization of less developed countries where animal feed is grown to create this meat supply rather than a dynamic food supply for the colonized. According to research by Dr. Richard Oppenlander, ‘Eighty-two percent of the world’s starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, which are then killed and eaten by wealthier individuals in developed countries like the US, UK, and in Europe.’
Numerous studies and analyses confirm that we already grow not only enough food to end world hunger today, but to meet the needs of the projected world population 30 years from now—the only catch is that we sink more than 30% of it into feeding livestock used for meat and dairy. The livestock population of the U.S. alone is fed enough from existing global grain and soy yields to end world hunger five times over. Going vegan is an excellent way to not only decrease our destructive impact on the planet, but to be part of the solution to more complex issues at the intersection of food, environmental capacity, and global economic injustice.
Encourage others to go vegan
For some people, veganism isn’t possible at the moment. You might be dependent on others for food, or not have the resources to match medical needs to a healthy vegan diet right now. Nevertheless, these predicaments don’t change the climate reality of animal agriculture’s impact on the planet. Where your own economic reality may make action on this front temporarily impossible, consider encouraging the people around you instead.
In the United States, it’s estimated that around 26% of the population is disabled in some way. While plenty of us have still found ways to be vegan despite medical impairments, using that number as a base figure, we can guess that at least 74% of the population has no medical barriers preventing them from going vegan. Likewise, it’s estimated that less than 15% of the U.S. population lives under the poverty line. Again, while there are many vegans living within a poverty threshold, at least 85% of the population does not live in these conditions. These majorities are people who can go vegan, and whose unrestrained food choices are having a destructive impact on our planet.
Even if you yourself can’t be vegan right now, help connect these folks to the climate reality of their choices. Encourage people who can to go vegan.
Eat and buy local
Localizing our food purchases not only helps cut fossil fuel emissions caused by transporting food, but also results in less demand for harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in food refrigeration during transport (one of the top ways climate scientists believe we can have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions). Connecting our kitchens to local suppliers invests in the stability of small-scale economies rather than corporate chains, and helps rescue the livelihoods of local farmers from the whims of global trade wars and insecure monoculture investments.
Local farmers are also more likely to sell you produce that wouldn’t pass corporate standards of appearance responsible for up to 40% of fresh produce waste in the United States.
Localizing our economy bolsters our communities against the impact of changing climate patterns by lessening the extent of national and global food supplies affected by phenomena like flooding or hurricanes as well. As the time frame for climate change mitigation transitions into the need for climate adaptation, having a localized economy and hyper-local food supplies will play a critical role in community stability and survival. It’s never too soon to start saving seeds, re-learning these skills, and acquiring land to practice them on.
Get serious and cooperative about Accessibility
Frustrated that vegan, local, and freshly grown options aren’t always available to poor and other marginalized people? Great, me too! Let’s get to work on changing that.
Urban and suburban gardening have been steadily undergoing a renaissance thanks to people acting on their interest in topics like food security, zero waste, permaculture, veganic gardening, and locavore diets. These kinds of home and community gardens can not only feed the families who tend them, but become important sites of resistance and solidarity. If all of us who cared about accessibility pooled our resources and mobilized gardening movements in our community, what could we accomplish? Who could we get healthier food to? What would it take to dismantle the food deserts we live in?
An alternative question posed to me several times over the years: if all of us who pay dues to activist non-profits and political parties instead diverted our funds into securing land, how would the resulting food security and potential for a steady meeting space compare to what these organizations are providing us?
Lift up others
This is the one of the best strategies I know. In fifteen years of activism, I’ve often learned the hard way that people don’t respond well to anger, shaming, and consistent outrage. Those emotions and responses are often the easiest and quickest to be provoked within us, especially when the desperation of our immediate communities and the dire nature of climate reality collide in a visceral shock that calls us to action. Speaking long-term though, shaming people and relying on anger, upset, and emotional pleas for change just aren’t sustainable (both for us and the people we’re seeking to engage).
Particularly with the media picking up on today’s climate science, people are looking for ways to engage and do something about the way constant images of environmental destruction and apocalyptic warnings about the near-future are making them feel. Strive to be the person who reaches out to them and connects them to positive steps they can take. Give one another the benefit of the doubt that we’re all trying to engage with these issues the best we know how. Help one another to see what informs your perspective. Let’s get to the next level together.
Beyond these five ideas, there are hundreds of other ways we can take action on climate injustice. If you share this post with your friends, give a few more examples with it. What we do matters. Believe in the power of 7 billion people to change their relationship to the planet for the better. If we have the power to create a climate toxic to life here, why wouldn’t we have the power to create a climate that’s nurturing instead?
Deepening Resilience began as a community blog project with a set of prompts anyone can submit to, but I’ve decided to add to my contributions here through additional posts on related subjects. You can read past posts in this category here, and even join the project’s Facebook group page here.
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Pat Mosley (LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage therapist and life coach in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
His work is especially focused on creating permaculture in his community, which sometimes looks like providing bodywork, and other times looks like writing or designing gardens for people and bees.
Get connected with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org