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What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau

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Environment

Dec 03, 2018

Three Things Everyone Can Do to Fight Climate Change Right Now

Trump is in climate denial; it's up to us to turn the tides on climate change.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas

At The Outdoor Journal, we’ve been discussing how the US leadership continues to let us down and outright deny climate change. But what can we do as individuals to stem the problem? Although the global scale of climate change feels too gargantuan for just one person to fight it, there are choices we can make on a daily basis that can make a difference. Our daily habits do have measurable results on our environment and make up an economic power over corporations and industries that need us to sustain them.

3. PLANT-BASED DIET

Stop eating meat and the Earth will thank you for it.

Stop eating meat and the Earth will thank you for it. According to the National Climate Assessment, a report released last week by the Federal government, “Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States.” The report asserts that “Climate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world.” As crop yields drop and livestock populations fall off, a momentous shift towards plant-based eating may be inevitable. Beyond individual health benefits, a plant-based diet eliminates the environmental pressures caused by factory farming, an industry that is already contributing to climate change.

Photo by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash.

According to a recent report that studied the impact of global food systems on climate change, the production of animal products generates the majority of food-related greenhouse-gas emissions, in fact, up to 78% of total agricultural emissions. For example, cattle require farmland, feed and fresh water in vast excess to plants like legumes, while also emitting the greenhouse gas methane. In a vicious cycle, we are growing plants to feed the animals that contribute to climate change (that we then slaughter to feed ourselves). Why not just cut out the animal factory farming from the equation?

At the individual level, researchers at the University of Oxford found that switching to a plant-based diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. Zoom out to the planetary scale and we find that if everyone on Earth removed meat from their diet it would free up 75% of farmlands – that’s the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.

While the idea of switching to a plant-based diet may appear daunting to some, one approach to try would be to commit to one plant-based meal per day as a start, and scale up from there.

2. SLOW FASHION

The fashion industry contributes the same amount of greenhouse gas as Russia per year.

1999’s Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk asserted a social commentary on consumerism within the United States. “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Consumers who purchase new clothes and quickly discard them based on rapidly changing trends might not realize that it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce a single t-shirt. At The Outdoor Journal, we’ve exposed the environmental harms as well as the poor working conditions beget by fast-moving fashion.

According to an analysis of the World Resources Institute summit, the fashion industry contributes 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – which equates to all plane travel across the planet, or the yearly emissions impact of Russia.

As individuals, we can pull the reins on the fashion industry by changing our mindset to a more sustainable, slow fashion movement. You could do your research to discover the most environmentally conscious brands and boycott the bad-actors. Reach out to your favorite brands with your concerns. Or you could buy clothes less often, shop at vintage stores and learn to repair your worn clothes. Cheers to making this New Year’s resolution to feeling more satisfied with the clothes that you already own.

1. GET POLITICAL

For those of us who are truly concerned with the mounting perils of climate change, one option would be to put your money where your mind is. In a similar vein to Patagonia’s CEO donating the company’s entire $10M Trump tax cut to non-profit groups who work on issues related to climate change and the environment, we could each pledge our tax refunds to the difference-making group of our choice.

Or we could look to the youth of the nation for inspiration and take to Capitol Hill. Juliana v. US, also known as the Children’s Climate Lawsuit was filed in 2015 and now includes 21 plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, who argue that the government’s engagement in policies that contribute to climate change have caused irreparable harm to their generation by denying them a safe climate. The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment that forces the government to initiate policies to curb climate change.

It is our fundamental right to a clean environment.

As the Children’s Climate Lawsuit argues, it is our fundamental right to a clean environment. However, a devil’s advocate might argue that individual choices are illusory – that changing your eating and shopping habits might give you a psychological benefit of feeling like you are making a difference, while in the grand scheme of things, you’re not. But that’s not true. Even though we as individuals have less direct power to fight climate change than the industries and corporations that are contributing the most harm, we do have a voice. As consumers, our choices of what we eat and what we buy are an ongoing conversation with companies. You can further that conversation by voting in elections, attending debates and contacting politicians (it’s never been easier with social media). We have the ability and the responsibility to enact change. Indeed, the time for action is nigh.

Read More: A Buried Report; Trump Refuses to Believe it – President Trump recklessly disregards the dangers of climate change in the face of resounding scientific consensus.

Cover Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash.

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Environment

May 14, 2019

Bringing Kiwi Back to Wellington

As New Zealand announces a new plan to reverse the decline of the iconic kiwi bird, Wellingtonians are already lining up to save their emblematic bird.

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WRITTEN BY

Sean Verity

This article was made available to The Outdoor Journal via a press release by Tourism New Zealand.

As New Zealand announces a new plan to reverse the decline of the iconic Kiwi bird, Wellingtonians are already lining up to save their emblematic bird. Wellingtonians are known for their love of flat whites and their passion for the arts. But there’s a new pastime that’s rapidly growing in New Zealand’s capital and all around the country.

Assembling and setting traps for rats, stoats and other predators in their own backyards. It’s a somewhat unlikely hobby, but in Wellington alone, there are now more than 70 community groups involved in pest management.  They’re all aiming at making their home town the first predator-free capital city in the world and a paradise for native birds such as the tīeke (Saddleback), hihi (stitchbird), kākā, kākāriki and toutouwai (North Island robin). 

In Wellington alone there are now more than 70 community groups involved in pest management all aiming at making their home town the first predator-free capital city in the world. Photo by: Capital Kiwi

Ever since conservation project Zealandia created a fully fenced 225-hectare ecosanctuary within the city limits in 1999, native birdlife has returned to many suburbs and Wellingtonians have embraced their avian friends. The groups are part of a groundswell of community conservation initiatives sweeping New Zealand and delivering fantastic results.

“Where once it would have been a remarkable sight to see a single kākā (a boisterous native parrot) in the wilderness of our mountain ranges, we now have literally hundreds of them across Wellington city, screeching across city skies,” says self-confessed “bird nerd” Paul Ward. Buoyed by the birdsong orchestra he thought, “Why stop there? Let’s bring back New Zealand’s most iconic bird, the Kiwi.” “The only time I’d seen a Kiwi growing up was in a zoo, and that’s not right for our national taonga (treasure),” he insists. 

The flightless birds with hair-like feathers and the chopstick bill have been absent from Wellington for over a century due to the loss of their habitat and the spread of predators. Ward’s ambitious project Capital Kiwi hopes to lure Kiwi back to the Wellington region within the next decade. Approximately 4,400 traps will be set on 23,000 hectares of public and private land stretching from the outskirts of town to the coast.

“Kiwi may disappear from the mainland in our lifetime”

As long as stoats, ferrets and weasels are around, Kiwi chicks have hardly any chance of surviving their first year.  An average of 27 Kiwis are killed by predators each day according to charity ‘Kiwis for Kiwi’ which supports community-led initiatives around the country. They warn that at this rate “Kiwi may disappear from the mainland in our lifetime.” 

But projects in Rakiura / Stewart Island in the south of New Zealand, Whangarei Heads in the north and Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty have shown that with the involvement of the community as kaitiaki (guardians) it is possible to grow a wild Kiwi population. 

The project Capital Kiwi hopes to bring New Zealand’s iconic birds back to Wellington by setting more than 4,000 traps in the hills on the outskirts of the city. Photo by: Capital Kiwi.

Michelle Impey, from Kiwis for Kiwi explains that one of the challenges of Kiwi conservation is “getting people to understand and care about something they can’t see and don’t experience.”

Kiwis are nocturnal, and with only a few exceptions live far removed from cities, towns and villages. “Bringing Kiwi closer to where Kiwis live makes them top of mind, completely relevant, and creates a sense of ownership with those who are privileged enough to have them living on or near their land,” Impey adds. She hopes that the new project will create “a city of Kiwi conservationists” who feel a personal attachment to their national bird. 

In August 2018 the government’s Predator Free 2050 initiative, which aims to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators that threaten the nation’s natural wildlife by 2050, announced their support for Capital Kiwi, committing more than NZ$3.2 million over the next five years.  It may sound like a lot of money, but the other way of looking at this is “What is the cost if we don’t?” Ward ponders.

“Can we, as a nation of Kiwis, afford to let our national icon die and become extinct? What would that say about us as guardians of the taonga (treasure) that makes our country so special and unique?”

https://www.outdoorjournal.com/featured/environment/reaction-european-single-use-plastic-ban/

Ninety-year-old Ted Smith, who lives in the small seaside settlement of Makara just over the hills from Wellington, helped to kick off the project with the setting of the first trap in November. He and his local community started trapping in their backyards a decade ago which resulted in a remarkable increase in birdlife – tūī, kākā, kererū, pūkeko, kingfishers, quails and others. “If we allow Kiwi to die out then we deserve to be called idiots,” he says. Wellingtonians love the vision of having Kiwi rummaging through their gardens and Ward says he’s been overwhelmed with the offers of help and support from the community.  

“We want to see Kiwi come back into Wellington”

Capital Kiwi has received hundreds of emails from people keen to help. Schoolchildren are now monitoring tracking tunnels, mountain bikers and trail runners check reserve trap lines on lunchtime rides and families come together to build traps. If the eradication proves successful after three years, the Department of Conservation will look at translocating Kiwi to the hillsides. The hope is that in less than a decade, tourists will be able to post their Kiwi encounters on the outskirts of Wellington on social media, and locals will beam with pride at hearing the shrill call of the country’s iconic birds in their backyards. 

“I would love to be woken up by the sound of the Kiwi. We want to see Kiwi come back into Wellington,” the capital’s Major Justin Lester says. 

The Department of Conservation is backing Capital Kiwi too. “Getting Kiwi back into the hills of Wellington where people can hear them call is a great way to demonstrate what New Zealand could look like if we get rid of the stoats and ferrets,” DOC’s Jack Mace says. 

“It would certainly add another feather to Wellington’s cap as one of the best places to see New Zealand’s unique wildlife.”

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

Cover Photo: New Zealand’s little spotted Kiwi at Zealandia Eco-sanctuary in Wellington. Photo by: Zealandia Eco-sanctuary

 

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