The Coronavirus and Climate Change, whilst both completely different things, share some similarities. For a start, they are both invisible, to the naked eye at least. But in reality they are a virus and a carbon atom. Neither seem to pose an immediate and tangible threat like a meteorite hurtling towards earth. However, both have propagated, and are now causing real quantifiable damage throughout the world. Can you believe something you can’t even see is having such a major global impact?
In 1859, the Irish scientist, John Tyndall was the first to discover climate change as a consequence of CO² changes in the atmosphere. Unlike COVID-19, which has swept across the globe in a matter of months, the impact of CO² happens on a geological timescale. But don’t be fooled; it’s been 161 years since Tyndall made his discovery, so it should come as no surprise rapid change is already occurring. We see those ice caps dropping into the ocean, Australia and the Amazon burning, polar bears stranded on tiny blocks of ice, children starving, corals bleaching, and wild weather patterns emerging. So, just because you might not be directly experiencing the worst effects of climate change, like you might not be suffering the symptoms of COVID-19, both are still real and imminent.
Globally, COVID-19 has made it clear that we aren’t as well prepared as we ought to be in times of crisis. We're going to have to do a lot better, especially with regards to the challenge our environment faces. Let’s use what we are currently experiencing as our umpteenth wake up call to do better than we did yesterday.
Now, enough with the doom and gloom. We don’t react well to that stuff because it makes us feel paralysed and hopeless, especially when we don’t have any good examples to refer to that will give us hope.
Below are two brief lists of what we at Latis, and you, as individuals, can do as an initial response to the climate emergency.
We are engaging in the Living Building Challenge, the most onerous environmental standard around, and will apply it to our projects. We are attending our first workshop this Friday https://living-future.org/lbc/
We attended Future Build, where we met Professor Ian Bateman, who’s research has shown that there are strategic locations where new trees should be planted for maximum environmental benefits. This has led to discussions around a new legislature that stipulates something along the lines of: for every tree on a new development, X amount of trees will be planted where they are actually needed.
We are following Sir Ebenezer Howard’s principles for Garden City design to create communities geared towards healthy living and are sustainable, if not regenerative.
We all need to work together. Whilst we really need the big corporations to do their thing in the climate emergency, let’s not forget the power we have in numbers. If we all do our part, we can make a difference. Some of the simplest things you can do are:
Make your commute green. Cycle if you can, or avoid using your car
Stop using single use plastics such as Tesco bags. Bring your own bag to the shop
Eat less meat
Some more ideas on what individuals can do can be found here - https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/what-can-I-do-to-stop-climate-change
Finally, here are some hopeful and inspirational links. There are many people out there that are addressing the climate crisis in various exciting ways:
What If, a book by Rob Hopkins: Is an incredible read full of examples of how we can harness our imaginations to effectively address the issues we face with climate change, society, education and more. https://www.robhopkins.net/the-book/
Great Green Wall of Africa: Check it out, its great https://www.greatgreenwall.org/about-great-green-wall
Exploration Architecture: Director Michael Pawlyn worked on the Eden project when he was at Grimshaw, and has since left to pursue his own architecture practice, which has some amazing projects. http://www.exploration-architecture.com/projects/sahara-forest-project
London National Park City: Did you know London is the world’s first National park city? A great example of how imagination led to the creation of this movement, which is discussed in the Hopkins’ book What If. http://www.nationalparkcity.london/