By Jacque Talbot
Being green takes effort and time, especially when you haven’t the faintest idea of what it’s about. You know you should turn off electrical appliances when you’re not using them, save water, catch a bus instead of driving. You know large factories that make big, foggy, black smoke are a bad thing. But why? Wouldn’t it be more enabling to have some knowledge behind all this? Fortunately, Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met) is currently offering a free Carbon Literacy course, organised by the Environment team, to anyone who wants to become more environmentally savvy and understand the benefits of being green.
Upon the release of the 2006 Davis Guggenheim film documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which explores former US Vice President Al Gore’s attempts to highlight the issues surrounding global warming, there was a surge of desperation and action regarding climate change. This has since declined. A worrying realisation considering that we have recently passed the ‘tipping point’ of carbon (parts per million) within the atmosphere, as well as the temperature threshold for mitigating the worst of anthropogenic climate change. This is surely the time for action.
The earth has a finite amount of resources, meaning that, eventually, our planet will be ‘used up’. This is why it is our responsibility to ensure that we care for and support the environment for future generations. All living things, including ourselves depend on the world’s water, food and atmosphere in order to live. Therefore it is fair to say our affinity with the earth is a natural bond which needs to be nurtured and treated with respect.
We are conditioned from birth to expect rewards or gifts in the form of materialistic goods, so it is little wonder our consumption rates are growing exponentially. Our society allows us to pick, choose and quickly discard items at an alarming rate. So, to keep up with this mass consumerism, we are stuffing our waste (often still in working order and containing precious, reclaimable metals) into the earth. In fact, 51% of our household goods and food stuffs are taken to landfill, creating millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
You would think that there would be global agreement about the devastating impact of climate change and our environmental deterioration. However, the mass media is fuelled by commercial gain, and commercial gain alone. Which is why, if you look carefully you’ll find that the same name that gets money from various, anti-climate change tabloids, also receives hefty sums of money from irresponsible fossil fuel production such as fracking. It isn’t surprising then that the media has a vested interest in ridiculing these progressive ideas and keeping the general public ignorant. They claim that climate change has no scientific basis and only prevents monetary expansion.
There are also people who don’t believe in global warming because they haven’t noticed a rise in temperature, or they believe that God is in control of the situation. Though these are obviously creditable claims, they don’t quite match the 97% of scientists who unanimously agree that the world is in some desperate need of preservation. It is quintessential that the public understand that global warming and climate change do not equate to noticeable temperature rises in regards to just weather. It is instead much more about the increase in freak weather activities, often materialising as land based and coastal flooding.
So, where can we start? We can make adjustments right from home. Something as simple as turning your laptop off overnight will save enough C02 to fill a double decker bus every year. Using fewer food bags, recycling properly and turning off lights when they are not in use will substantially lower your carbon footprint. But to understand how we can make the difference on a larger scale, Humanity Hallows spoke to Manchester Met Carbon Literacy Facilitator Emma Charlotte Richards. Emma told us:
“As explained within the project, the idea of ‘every little helps’ can often be counter-productive. Small actions are a great first step on your journey to becoming sustainable. But it is important to remember that if we only do a little, we will only achieve a little. When climate change is such a large issue to tackle we must push for bigger carbon reductions where we can, in particular regards to swapping to clean energy sources.”
The Manchester Met Carbon Literacy course is comprised of two parts. Firstly there is an interactive, e-learning course. This online course takes around 3 hours to complete and will provide you with basic knowledge of climate change.
This will be followed by an engaging 4-hour workshop, led by trained Carbon Literacy facilitators. The session will equip you with the necessary tools to tackle climate change and will show you how you can encourage others to become greener. Upon completion of the course, you will be awarded with a ‘Carbon Literate’ certificate, giving you the credentials to impress employers as it is a great addition to your CV.
Jacque is currently studying English and Film at Manchester Met. Follow him on Twitter @Jac_talbot