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Crowd gathered outside with sign reading 'climate justice now'

What is climate change doing to your future?

With an increase in extreme weather events and rising sea levels, it’s not surprising that an estimated 73% of young people are currently feeling the impacts of climate change. But thanks to the voices of young environmental activists like Greta Thunberg and Leah Namugerwa, climate change advocacy is increasingly underlining the urgency for people to pay attention for the sake of future generations.

So what exactly is climate change doing to our future? And how do we deal with the potential impacts?

Deakin University Bachelor of Environmental Science graduate, Egi Gifford, is passionate about environmental protection. Through her work as a Field Technician with Australian Water Quality, and by striving to make more environmentally friendly choices in her personal life, she hopes to contribute to a better future.

Gifford explains the impact of human activity on the climate and environment, and what we can do to ensure a better outlook for the future.

What is climate change doing to our future?

‘Human activities like burning coal to produce electricity have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which in turn means that more heat is being trapped [and] increasing the earth’s temperature,’ Gifford explains.

‘Due to the increase of global average temperatures, extreme weather events that originally happened infrequently are becoming more frequent. The melting of the north and south poles are also signs that the climate is changing.’

With the livelihoods of younger generations at stake, it’s natural to wonder how exactly this could play out in the short and long term. As Gifford explains, the catastrophic Australian bushfires in 2019 and 2020 give us a glimpse of what life could be like in Australia if nothing is done to fight climate change.

‘Unusually hot weather events will become common, the Great Barrier Reef will most likely be lost if we continue the way we are going. Extreme weather such as storms, rainfall and flooding events will become more intense and severe, causing mass destruction and devastation,’ Gifford says.

But even though it might seem all doom and gloom, there are still opportunities to prevent these potential impacts and create a more hopeful future.

'The Great Barrier Reef will most likely be lost if we continue the way we are going.'

Egi Gifford,
Field Technician, Australian Water Quality

What can we do to combat climate change?

There are many ways you can make a difference, both at home and in the workplace. If you’re not too well-versed on the topic of climate change in general, the best place to start is by getting educated. Resources like Climate Change in Australia and CSIRO have free and useful information available to view online.

If you’re looking to take action in your everyday life, Gifford suggests the following tips:

  • Reduce your weekly intake of meat.
  • Recycle as much as possible.
  • Compost your food scraps.
  • Appropriately discard of e-waste.
  • Use renewable energy where you can.
  • Check to ensure your banks and super funds aren’t funding fossil fuel industries.
  • Vote for governments that have strong climate policies.

These days, it’s not uncommon for some workplaces to have dedicated sustainability teams or initiatives already in place. But if your workplace is yet to come on board, or you’re looking for ways to improve existing initiatives, here are a few suggestions:

  • Request for the implementation of more sustainable workplace practices, such as buying renewable energy, increasing recycling and reducing general waste, or moving away from single use items.
  • Implement an environmental management system focused on continuous environmental improvements.
  • If you work as part of a large organisation, see if the business or company will commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

There are also plenty of career choices that would make fighting climate change part of your everyday job. Through a career in ‘green criminology’, you can investigate trends in criminal behaviour relating to the environment and keep businesses and companies accountable for unlawful damage to the environment. Or you could channel your passion for the environment into a career in environmental management and sustainability.

But whether you adopt small changes as part of your everyday life, or make fighting climate change your day job, it’s important that you contribute where you can.

‘Climate change can be quite depressing and overwhelming, [but] just remember that there are a lot of amazing people doing great work in creating a regenerative [and] sustainable future, so make sure to take in the positive changes that are happening, not just the negative,’ Gifford says.

‘Together, it is possible to create a fairer and greener world.’

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