Earth Day: Your Impact Matters! Easy Changes You Can Make

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As a Dietitian you are trained to practice based off of evidence based guidelines. It is misleading, manipulative, and unethical to try to convince someone to change their behavior based on false information. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, which is why I would like to present you with scientific-based, conclusive evidence that our behaviors are having a negative, lasting, and likely irreversible impact on our planet.

Our planet (or, more accurately, our society) is like an individual who is in denial about their unhealthy diet and lifestyle. We keep filling it with “junk food” and doing nothing to better its health and subsequently we are running it into the ground at an alarming rate. Without the proper treatment, the health is going to reach the point of no return. Scientists estimate that we will reach this point in just a little over a decade unless we make some major changes now.

It breaks my heart during my time caring for patients in the hospital when I come across a patient whose disease has taken an irreparable toll on their health. Their heart, kidneys, or liver may be at the point of shutting down after years of dietary abuse. It breaks my heart even further when I see the fear and will to survive kick on in their eyes when they see me. Some of them want to hear about a low sodium diet, a low fat diet, a reduced refined-carbohydrate diet – anything that can give them a chance to regain health. It absolutely breaks my heart the most when I know that these individuals are past the point of no return. Of course, I will always give information to those who want it, but at some point it is best to discuss quality of life over pursuing aggressive dietary treatment. I will see some individual’s futures reflected in these patients and I know that if they don’t take my education seriously they will end up in the same position, with no hope for a return to good health and the rest of their lives full of regret. This is the harsh truth. Right now, the earth is at that turning point – it could go either way. We could continue our current habits out of convenience and because that is the familiar way. We can accept our fate and allow our children and grandchildren to struggle with the incredible burden of our poor choices.

Or we can change. We can take responsibility. We can shed the guilt, fear, and regret and we can exchange it for the power to make a difference. As an inhabitant of this planet it is your responsibility to take action and make a difference.

Everyone has to start somewhere. You do not have to be perfect from the beginning. You have to learn to walk before you can crawl, walk, and run. The point is that you start and keep progressing. But the effort will be worth it.

  • The first major change you can make:
    Register to vote and elect responsible government officials.

There are so many changes that need to be made on a larger scale. It is the responsibility of the officials to advocate for change, but it is your responsibility to vote to get those officials into office! It is an incredibly dangerous mindset to believe that you are just one person and your vote doesn’t matter.

  • Reduce
    While recycling is awesome and I highly, highly encourage it, we are past the point of just recycling. We must reduce the resources that we are creating.

Here are some tips on reducing:

– Reduce the amount of methane emissions by reducing the amount of meat – especially red meat – that you eat. This does not have to mean switching to an entirely vegan lifestyle, but cutting back to even half as much meat as you once consumed can make a major impact. Read here to learn more about the impacts of livestock agriculture and how we can easily reduce its impact.
– Ditch ziploc bags, use tupperware
– Buy several reusable grocery shopping bags and keep them both in the car and in the house. Rotate these. You can also place a big handful of plastic bags you already have in your car. They can be stored very compactly and you will always have them on you (P.S. Most Kroger’s have a grocery bag recycling drop off)
– Buy a portable straw to put on your keychain. Remember to let your server know you don’t need one when you order. It may feel silly the first few times, but it has only ever been received with appreciation whenever I have done it.
[Click here to buy one on Amazon]
– Bring travel silverware with you. This is a huge one – we throw away over a billion single-use plastic silverware every year. Buy a travel set of silverware and keep it in your bookbag, purse, or briefcase.
[Click here to buy one on Amazon]
– Start turning all lights off when you leave the room. Physical things are not the only things that need to be conserved. Energy has a huge need for conservation as well.
– Even though you may try your best to reduce the amount of trash you produce (recycling will make a huge difference!) there will still be trash. Instead of throwing this trash into another plastic bag made with non-biodegradable plastic made from fossil fuels, buy compostable trash bag or a trash bag made from plant material that will eventually break down. Admittedly, the bio-made but non biodegradable trash bags take longer to break down, but they do tend to be sturdier. Click here to find the brand I use on Amazon that is amazingly durable, has strong handles, and fits in my large trash can. I promise you cannot tell the difference!

The biggest takeaway is that you have the power to make a difference and not only that, you have a responsibility to make a difference. We have been idle and complacent too long. If you are not willing to take these steps for your future, take them for everyone else’s. The time to change is now before the time has run out.

 

The Research:

As promised, please read below on the conclusive evidence that well-respected climate change scientists and climate change research organizations have collected.

See what NASA has to say

Statement on Climate Change from 18 Scientific Associations:
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” (2009) [1]

American Association for the Advancement of Science:
“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” (2006) [2]

American Chemical Society:
“Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” (2004) [3]

American Geophysical Union:
“Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013) [4]

American Medical Association:
“Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.” (2013) [5]

American Meteorological Society:
“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012) [6]

American Physical Society:
“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007) [7]

The Geological Society of America:
“The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.” (2006; revised 2010) [8]

[1] https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-reaffirms-statements-climate-change-and-integrity
[2] https://www.aaas.org/resources/aaas-board-statement-climate-change-response-epas-advance-notice-proposed-rulemaking
[3]https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/policy/publicpolicies/sustainability/globalclimatechange.html
[4]https://sciencepolicy.agu.org/files/2013/07/AGU-Climate-Change-Position-Statement_August-2013.pdf
[5]https://assets.ama-assn.org/sub/meeting/documents/i16-resolution-924.pdf
[6]https://www.ametsoc.org/index.cfm/ams/about-ams/ams-statements/archive-statements-of-the-ams/climate-change1/
[7]https://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
[8]https://www.geosociety.org/gsa/positions/position10.aspx

 

 

 

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