How to Think Globally and Act Locally

There are many threatening impacts on the environment that are being seen today. Global warming is a serious and pressing issue. Deforestation is a major contributor to global warming and is also having life-threatening impacts on wildlife. But there are always small ways that you can help make a big difference.

One and a half acres of forest is being cut down per second. It is estimated that in 100 years there will be no rainforests left if the rate continues at this speed. It is expected that up to 28,000 species will become extinct in the next 25 years due to deforestation. A main species that is endangered is the orangutan due to palm oil plantations. The main reason for this large scale deforestation is agriculture. If nothing is done, we won’t be able to enjoy these beautiful forests much longer and the animals that live in these habitats will most likely become extinct.

As trees are carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide, cutting them down results in an increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean is another carbon sink, however because of the increasing concentration, it means more is entering the water. This is causing ocean acidification. Also with this increase in carbon dioxide, there is an overall increase in the global temperature. This is already having negative impacts on the environment. Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is already evident and is a direct link to increased water temperature.Only 4 of 520 reefs surveyed show no evidence of bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest tourist attractions in Australia and is one of the most beautiful places to visit because of its colours. If this continues, there will be nothing left to see except white coral with a dying aquatic community. Also the glaciers in the arctic are melting rapidly and during winter there is less ice. This is having serious impacts for animals that rely on the icy habitat, such as polar bears.

Visual effect of the impacts of coral bleaching on Great Barrier Reef. Image from

Everyone should acknowledge that climate change is a serious problem. There is no denying it. However the majority of people either don’t think that they personally can make a difference or they simply don’t know what they can do. The main challenge is people need to change their habits. That’s the hardest part. People can make small choices that can lead to an overall positive impact on to the environment. Every little thing matters. People think that they can’t possibly make a difference because the damage is already too big and they are only one person. This couldn’t be more wrong. If everybody continues to think like this then nothing will change. Such simple changes, such as switching off light when the room is not occupied make such a big difference.

Here are a few simple ways that you can make a difference: 

Meat free Monday
It is unrealistic to think that everyone will become vegetarian, however agriculture is one of the leading forces damaging the environment. Introducing a concept such as meat free Monday to reduce your meat intake is a great idea.

Avoid purchasing palm oil products
Making a conscious decision about what you are purchasing could help reduce the rate of deforestation in places such as Indonesia for palm oil plantations.

Picking up litter
This may seem like a primary school lesson, but it is a very simple action to help the environment for the better. Most people just turn a blind eye at a piece of rubbish lying on the ground. They don’t think it is that big of a deal because they see it all the time or they don’t want to get their hands dirty. Just think of all the places that the rubbish could end up. There is literally a garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean spanning from the west coast of North America to Japan. That is disgusting. So doing a tiny good deed can really make a difference.

We have all grown up with the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle but nearly all of us take for granted the positive impacts that can make. Recycling saves energy and resources in production. Think about what you are throwing away and ask yourself if there is another useful purpose for this item. Obviously most of the time there won’t be another use and that is when you need to make the conscious choice of where are you dumping your rubbish. More things than ever are being recycled and it is worth researching what you can recycle now.

Reducing consumption
We are such a consumer driven society. But how much do we actually need and usefully use? Up to 20% of the food bought by Australians is thrown out. We all are guilty of throwing up something to get the newer version, even when it is not necessary. This all contributes to the mass production of goods to meet supply and demand. Reducing the amount you spend on unnecessary items can have a positive impact on the environment and it can also save you money.

Riding your bike
This might seem like a daunting notion, however, most people live within riding distance of their workplace or school. It is just changing your habits. Riding instead of driving or getting a lift will produce no greenhouse gases and requires no energy. This will have many physical health benefits as well as environmental.

For more ways to reduce your impact on the environment click here.


Niamh Quinane

Niamh is a 16 year old from Geelong. She enjoys sport and music and is passionate about the environment.

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