Guest blog by Neil Kitching, author, geographer and energy specialist
I wrote Carbon Choices from a frustration that people are still unaware of climate change facts and its implications. Incorporating nature loss into the book is ambitious, but necessary, as nature is integral to climate change and wildlife is fragile. I travelled in Botswana and Namibia in 2019. The incredible animal and birdlife in the Okavango Delta helped to inspire me to write this book, but I also realised how fragile it is. The wetland is sensitive to change, from water abstraction for irrigation and from climate change led changes in precipitation.
In plain language, Carbon Choices describes ten building blocks that provide society with the foundations to build sensible climate change solutions; and five common-sense principles to guide us in the decisions that we make.
- Be fair across current and future generations
- Price carbon pollution
- Consume carefully, travel wisely
- Embrace efficiency, avoid waste
- Nurture nature
By applying these principles to our daily lives – our diets, homes, travel, shopping and leisure – we can regenerate nature, improve our society, be healthier, happier and lead more fulfilled lives.
I include a chapter on rewilding in the book. It is commonly thought to apply at a landscape scale, such as restoring vast forests or wetlands. But it can also apply at a very local scale and this will have a direct impact on our quality of life. Rewilding should start with children and education. Outdoor and forest education from nursery upwards can enable children to explore and discover nature by themselves which will enhance their social, emotional and physical development. Learning and being able to identify species is also the first step towards wanting to protect them.
Our cities and towns can become more liveable if we bring nature back. Rivers, streams and wetlands should be restored to become pride of place in our urban landscapes, whilst trees can reduce some of the effects of rising temperatures and they absorb noise and air pollution. Pockets and ribbons of greenspace, including gardens, can act as corridors for insects, small mammals, and the birds that depend on them.
Some forms of gardening can have a heavy environmental price. Manicured lawns may indicate heavy use of artificial fertiliser and weed killer. Gardening in general can use a lot of chemicals and pesticides – just take a look around your local garden centre. It can also introduce new invasive species. So, how you garden is very important. Whilst a grass lawn is better than asphalt or artificial grass, it would be even better to leave it a bit wilder, or to convert part of it to wild flowers, shrubs or small trees. A stronger focus on native plants and wild flowers would also help as our insects are more likely to be adapted to them. Bird feeders can help to make up for the loss of our natural ecosystems that birds depend on.
This popular science book will fill any gaps in your understanding of climate change and nature loss. It lays out the solutions including a green action plan for government, businesses and individuals. It will motivate you to change your behaviour and maybe inspire you to campaign to change business activity and government policy.