This opinion voices the views of Oriana Marrs, aged 12 years and a new contributor to Rye News.
Comments will be moderated to reflect the age of the author, and our aim is to support young writers to contribute to Rye News.
Oriana’s interests include music, the sciences, and reading. She loves spending time on local rivers, kayaking, rowing, and exploring new wildlife habitats each time she goes out.
Our global leaders have agreed to not exceed the 2015 Paris Agreement of a 1.5°C rise in global temperatures, however, that already means our sea level rises by almost half a metre, with an ice-free Arctic at least once every one-hundred years. We will also see significant losses from species of plants, vertebrates, and insects, with 90% of our coral reefs destroyed.
Our trajectory currently is to reach 2°C, although some people predict that a 5°C increase is more likely. Today people are dying from global warming at current temperatures. The damage caused by 5°C is unimaginable.
The increase in CO2 emissions, and the resulting impacts to humans and the wider planet, are not entirely predictable. But we know that if we want the next generation to see a polar bear in the wild, or dive a coral reef, we must start working now. We can only succeed if we work together, by changing our behaviours and demands for fossil fuels.
I will be exploring how our daily lives contribute to the end of our world as we know it and finding new ways to live our daily life away from fossil fuels. We need to lower our emissions today to change tomorrow for the better.
Firstly, let me clarify that solar panels, wind farms, and biofuels will not save us in themselves, because no technology that exists today, or will exist, has the time to make sufficient difference. Although they are still important opportunities that need to be used to succeed, we need to change how we live now because our carbon budget will be gone in about seven years with our current demands. 
I have been researching the simple things that we can do to help, with the evidence that they do work. These are small and manageable changes; together they will make a difference. We need put pressure on our local and global leaders to make the larger, more important changes, but they will only do that if we show that we are willing to prioritise change through our own actions.
Around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from our food. See the table below:
|FOOD||QUANTITY||CO2 EMISSION PER YEAR|
|Tomato||One tomato, once or twice a week||13kg|
|Cheese||30g piece of cheese, once a week||73kg (the same as heating an average UK house for 11 days)|
|Beef||One portion, once or twice a week||604kg (same as driving a petrol car 1,542 miles)|
|Dairy milk||Once a day, serving of 200ml||229kg|
The production and transport of foods such as rice, avocados, beef and dairy milk are significant contributors to CO2 emissions.
We can avoid these foods, by having potatoes instead of rice – potatoes are the lowest contributors to CO2 emissions in the carbohydrate food group.
Avocados are not a large part of people’s diets, so they can easily be substituted with locally grown, seasonal fruits or vegetables.
Beef is the highest contributor to CO2 emissions out of all food groups and can be easily substituted with other sources of protein such as beans, tofu, peas, and eggs.
Dairy milk is probably the simplest to substitute with plant-based milk, such as oat milk. Oat milk is now far more available and is becoming almost as affordable as dairy milk. I can confirm that alternative milk tastes just as good as dairy milk (if not better) in hot chocolate drinks!
If one person substituted these low CO2 foods with the same portion of servings that are commonly eaten, that person would save 1,717kg of CO2 emissions being released each year.
If you had a meal with dairy milk, beef, avocadoes and tomatoes, it would total to about 15kg of greenhouse gases, per serving. Whereas, if you substituted that meal with more sustainable items, such as oat milk, tofu, potatoes, peas, and locally produced fruit, you would have a meal that would cost the planet 0.3kg! The more people who make this change, the more the market will follow to meet the change in demand. It would be helpful for more companies to show the impact that their products have on the planet, in terms of CO2 emissions, and otherwise. This would mean that individuals can make their own decisions on how much they impact the planet through their choices.
In particular, I am hopeful that Jempson’s supermarket will move many of its excellent green alternative options that they have at their Peasmarsh branch, to the Rye branch. However, to do this, they need to know that the demand in Rye is sufficient to justify the change of use for the more limited space in the Rye location – such as for alternative milks, including self-serve refills, and other package-free foods.
If readers of this article would support these green initiatives for Jempson’s Rye branch, please show your interest in the comments so that Jempson’s can see that we support it.
Image Credits: Margot Richard on Unsplash .