Dr Emily Lines is a Lecturer in environmental science at Queen Mary University in London (she’s also one of my best friends!).
In today’s podcast we discuss:
- What we can do to make things better when it comes to the planet
- Why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up or take on board too much responsibility (and what we should do instead)
- How to channel our eco-anxiety into action
- How to be a more ethical consumer
- The GOOD news when it comes to the environment
Find Dr. Emily Lines on Twitter https://twitter.com/emilyrlines
This episode is sponsored by Kloris CBD. Get 10%
off Kloris CBD oil when you enter the code ‘calmeryou’ at www.kloriscbd.com
CBD oil and public speaking anxiety https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079847/)
This episode is also sponsored by Dorset Cereals check out their range at www.dorsetcereals.co.uk
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Thanks so much for listening!
Chloe Brotheridge: Hello. Welcome to the ‘Calmer You’ Podcast. This is your host Chloe Brotheridge. Thanks so much for listening. I am a coach, a hypnotherapist, and an author of two books. ‘The anxiety solution’, and ‘Brave New Girl’, which is all about confidence. So, thanks for listening today. I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation. I got one of my good friends on the podcast Dr. Emily Lines. She is a lecturer in environmental science at Queen Mary University in London. She studies trees a lot, she’s got a big interest in trees, and with all the things happening with the Amazon rainforest. How upset so many of us were about the fact that it was being cut down, and burned.
I really wanted to talk to her about her work, and get her advice and insights about things that we can do when it comes to the planet. Because in the UK, 85% of us are concerned about climate change, and that can really lead to anxiety for a lot of people. I have experienced my own moments of anxiety. I really wanted to have this conversation because I just think it’s the most important topic of our lives, essentially. So, Emily and I get into what we can do to make things better when it comes to the planet. How we can channel our anxiety into action to actually improve the world, and make it a better place.
We talk about, why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up because this is one of those topics where it could be so easy to obsess over things or really worry or beat ourselves up about buying something in plastic. She shares why that isn’t the way to go about it, and why we shouldn’t take on board so much responsibility. But what we should do instead. We talk about how to be a more ethical consumer, and we also talk about the good news when it comes to the environment and the positive things that are happening in the world. So, it’s not all bad news, listeners. There’s just loads of inspiring practical things that we can all be doing in this episode.
So, I want let you know if you’re not already that you can sign up to you get my new let’s say with the latest podcasts, and news of events and courses that I run. Also you can get a free anxiety busting toolkit over there. You can head over to calmeryou.com/free enter your details there, and I’ll send all of those freebies to you. So, let’s get into the interview with Dr. Emily Lines.
This episode is sponsored by Kloris CBD Oil. Everyone in the anxiety world is talking about CBD oil, but if you don’t know what it is, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and it’s used as a food supplement with promising evidence that it actually helps to calm anxiety. One study found that it reduced anxiety during public speaking, and the link to this is in the show notes. It’s also believed that CBD oil could help manage pain, such as period pain by reducing inflammation. I’ve been taking Kloris CBD for the past few months to help with period pain and PMS, and I think it really helps.
I love that Kloris take great care to source the best quality CBD, only using the finest organically derived natural ingredients, they rigorously test their products for contaminants, and most CBD brands don’t do this. CBD isn’t a miracle cure for anxiety but it could be really useful as a food supplement to include in your routine. I love using it. Get 10% off Kloris CBD oil when you enter the code email@example.com. Welcome Dr. Emily Lines. Thanks so much for joining me today.
Speaking with an Environmental Scientist
Dr. Emily Lines: Hi, Chloe. Thanks for inviting me.
Chloe Brotheridge: Can you tell us what it is that you do, and yeah what do you do?
Dr. Emily Lines: So, I am a lecturer in environmental science at Queen Mary University of London. In particular, I’m interested in forests. I study how they function, and what the impact of climate change will be on them. I teach about all sorts of different environmental issues at the university.
Chloe Brotheridge: Amazing. Emily is also one of my best friends, and I really wanted to get her on the podcast because of all the conversations that her and I had had about things going on in the world, and what we can do to make things better. Because I read a stat recently that 85% of people in the UK are concerned about climate change, and from lots of you guys I speak to, people feel quite helpless going into even Eco anxiety.
Having a lot of fear about the future, and I really wanted to talk to you Emily about what is the situation that we’re dealing with. How can we channel our anxiety into action, because often we get ourselves into rumination, and this is overthinking worrying and feeling helpless. Actually, there’s a lot we can do, and educating ourselves is one of the first steps to doing that. We can channel our emotions into actually creating a positive change.
Dr. Emily Lines: Sure. Well, first of all being worried about climate change is not an unreasonable thing, it’s a really big issue, it’s the biggest issue facing society today. We need to half our global Co2 emissions by the year 2030, in order to avoid really dangerous climate change to keep within the 1.5 degree warming, that we set ourselves at the Paris agreement. It’s justified to be worried about climate change, and we do not have a lot of time to act. I think, it’s really fantastic we’re having this conversation, and that 85% of the country does care about climate change. Because we need people to care.
Chloe Brotheridge: Yes. We need people to care, and yeah there’s almost a sense of we were talking about this before we started recording. Anxiety isn’t, well you asked me, is anxiety worry without cause. Actually, anxiety can be from lots of different sources in our lives, often it is from things that are worrying like if we’ve been made redundant or we’ve suffered a bereavement or what about the planet.
This podcast is not gonna say to you everything’s gonna be okay. Like a lot of my advice does go along the lines of everything’s gonna be okay, you’re gonna be fine. This isn’t one of those situations, it’s one of those situations where we have to gather ourselves together, educate ourselves, and change the world essentially.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. We need to harness the concern that we have, but there is some good news. I mean, particularly here in the UK. We have falling emissions, we’re about 40% below what we were in 1990, in terms of our greenhouse gas emissions. So, the UK is doing pretty well in terms of its emissions targets, is not doing as well as it could be. But we are making changes, we’re making positive changes, and there are positive stories around the world. But globally, we’ve still got increasing emissions actually. So, more much more action is needed.
Chloe Brotheridge: So, I wanted to ask you about trees. Because you and I have had lots of conversations about trees.
Dr. Emily Lines: Trees are my favourite.
Chloe Brotheridge: You have told me interesting facts about trees, and this is your jam basically. Why trees are important?
Dr. Emily Lines: Well, I mean, forest ecosystems are incredibly important in terms of climate change. They store as much carbon as in the atmosphere, and plants on earth absorb about a third of what we’re emitting out into the atmosphere. So, they’re doing this amazing job in terms of dampening. The impact of our emissions in terms of climate change, and they also are home to about two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity. They’re incredibly important when we think about extinction, and they’re critical for both climate change and for biodiversity loss, and of course we’re in the midst of this.
Six mass extinction event, where we have species going extinct at rates as sort of hundreds of thousands of times, the rate that they would be without human activity. Forest ecosystems, and preserving forest ecosystems is a sort of twin approach to tackling these problems, and actually it’s one of the cheapest ways of tackling climate change is to just stop deforesting.
Chloe Brotheridge: Of course probably everyone listening saw the things that were all over the news in social media recently about the Amazon Rainforest being on fire, which is still happening guys. Just because people aren’t putting on Instagram, that is still going on, that is an example of deforestation.
Dr. Emily Lines: In fact, there was a report that came out just this morning that found that we’re losing about the size of the UK in turbo glut in terms of global forest every single year. As the deforestation is really high, and the rate of loss had been going down. So, Brazil had had a government that was quite environmentally conscious that was working to reduce the rates of deforestation in the Amazon. But in the last few years, the rate of loss has gone up, it’s gone up in the Amazon, it’s going up in Africa, and in Southeast Asia as well.
The primary drivers are unfortunately pressures from agribusiness, so from agriculture, for pasture for beef farming, for growing soybeans for feeding cattle, and also things like palm oil and mining. So, deforestation is increasing, and we have this sort of situation where things like the Amazon are hugely important not only for storing carbon and absorbing carbon, but also for regulating the global climate system. Their losses just affects the whole world. It affects everybody in the world, we have a small number of people getting really rich from deforestation, from eating lots of beef from palm oil and trade. But we have a large number of people, the whole world is being detrimental affected by it.
So, I think people should be angry about this situation. Because something like the Amazon rainforest or the rainforest in sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. These are the globally important ecosystems that are just not being protected. Sorry, look really worried of them.
Chloe Brotheridge: No, I am just worried about the, I am worried to be honest. If there’s one thing that will make me worry, it’s this. I was really like, a lot of people very kind of upset and angry about what was happening. In a way though, just glad that people were talking about it more suddenly. Because obviously, it’s been happening for long time. In the newspapers, not people not talking about it, not really seeming to kind of care about this.
Dr. Emily Lines: Absolutely. This is something that I have found so interesting over the past few months, a year or so. Since the rise of things like extinction rebellion, and since the rise in profile of Greta Thunburg, is more and more people want to talk to me about my job. Five years ago, if I was out at a party, nobody wanted to talk about the environment, it’s boring, it’s like crusty hippies in the corner. Now, people want to talk to me about it and I find that really inspiring actually, and the very fact that I’m here talking to you about it. It’s just an indicator of just how much it’s risen in terms of global awareness. People caring and understanding much more about the importance of the environment.
We are part of nature
Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah. There’s one good thing about, all the horrible things happening is that it is kind of waking us up, it is reminding us that we are a part of nature, and if we fuck over nature then she is gonna fuck us up.
Dr. Emily Lines: Actually, when you think in sort of hundreds of thousands to millions of years. Yes, it’s gonna be fine. Climate change is something that threatens us as a species, it’s threatened our survival. Yes, we’re driving a large number of other species to extinction, and we can have a whole moral argument about whether or not we’ve any right to do that. Some people think that we can use the earth for whatever we want, and other people think that we should be preserving species.
But ultimately, we should be acting in our own self-interest to protect the earth. Climate change is going to make parts of the earth uninhabitable. It’s going to threaten our food security, it’s going to create water shortages, it’s going to create civil wars, mass migration. It’s going to make it much more difficult to raise people out of poverty. We are using up resources that are finite rates much faster than is sustainable. So, we should care about changing the way we live for our own survival. In a few million years, when humans have died off, the planet will be fine there. We also sorts of wait, and wonderful new creatures that have evolved on it, which I find really comforting. But we need to protect ourselves as a species, and this is why we need action.
Chloe Brotheridge: Totally.There are so many places that we could go next.
Dr. Emily Lines: Can we go back to trees?
Chloe Brotheridge: Sure. I like trees too. What can we do about the trees?
Dr. Emily Lines: Okay. So, first of all, understanding why they’re so important, understanding that actually it’s the standing forests that are important and afforestation, planting new trees can help. It can particularly help with issues like soil erosion, which we’re really suffering from in some parts of the world. But holding the carbon that exists in forest ecosystems, it’s not all in the trees, a lot of it is in the soil, probably more of it is in the soil than is in the standing trees. Really, we want to keep those ecosystems intact. So, if you’re looking at things like carbon offsetting, for example if you’re flying across the Atlantic, and you’re worried about your impact, you want to carbon offset.
Then you can look at schemes that are preserving parts of the world’s tropical rainforest, which are the most important in terms of carbon and biodiversity, and preserving them rather than for example schemes that might be planting new plantations. That might have little in the way of biodiversity value, or might even release carbon. Because soil itself holds a lot of carbon. If you plant on top of it, sometimes you can release that carbon into the atmosphere.
So, preserving the forest we have, valuing them properly, understanding that there is a there’s a dollar value to a standing forest in terms of its role in preventing dangerous climate change. In terms of its role in modulating our climate system, and providing things like water security or prevention of soil erosion, valuing our natural resources properly. If there needs to be a monetary value, then that’s what needs to happen. When we take action to try to do better, things like carbon offsetting trying to have real holistic understanding of our choices. There are actions, other actions we can take to reduce sort of pressure on forests through understanding what kind of products we might be benefiting from deforestation.
So, things like palm oil, meat products, they can come from the forested areas, around 40% of products from deforested areas are in the international trade circuit. They’re not all deforestation in the Amazon to feed beef, it doesn’t all go to Brazil. It becomes part of global trade. So, understanding if we’re buying things that are making that worse but also putting pressure on governments, and companies. If you find that you’re using a project that product has palm oil in it, and you want to keep using that product because you like it. Then pressurize that company, they’re responsive to consumer action. Ultimately, when we think about an issue as big as tropical deforestation, and this is really true for so many issues that we might talk about today.
What we can do as individuals is actually quite small, our individual choices have relatively small impact. It’s our collective behavior that makes a really big difference. So, we need to take our individual anger, our individual concern, our energy, and channel it into forums that push for behavioral change, societal change and structural change, rather than really beating ourselves up about taking a flight, for example.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. That’s quite an important point, I think. Because it’s easy, I mean you can go either way. You can either go, I can’t make a change at all. I’m just gonna do I want or you can go the other way of, I’m gonna beat myself up about everything. I’m gonna deprive myself, and actually it’s about trying to channel our individual power into something bigger than ourselves.
What can we do about climate change?
Dr. Emily Lines: I think it really is. I think, it’s really important that people understand that climate change is not you individual fault, it’s a personal responsibility to fix climate change. We live in a society, or it is incredibly difficult to live in low emission lifestyle. The way that our taxation system is set up. So, air fuel is not taxed for example makes flying really cheap, and trains are more expensive and are not properly invested in. We didn’t have high-speed network in this country. So, they’re slower. The system we live in essentially perpetuates our high emission lifestyle.
What we need is structural change, we need pressure on governments, we need governments, our politicians, and our MPs to understand that we care about these things. We want them to make the decisions that will enable us to live a lower carbon lifestyle in order to avert dangerous climate change.
Chloe Brotheridge: So, when you’re talking about kind of creating that change at a higher level is that about getting political.
Dr. Emily Lines: I think it absolutely is.
Chloe Brotheridge: Specifically, what can we do?
Dr. Emily Lines: For me, I think it really is getting political. It’s recognizing that you live in this society that makes it really difficult for you to live a low-carbon life. We all do, it’s not our individual faults, that companies are getting really rich from climate change. There’s something like 100 companies globally are responsible for 70% of all of our human greenhouse gas emissions.
Chloe Brotheridge: That makes me like actually want to vomit.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yup, it’s disgusting. You should be angry about it, but also you should realize that it isn’t you, and it isn’t your [Inaudible] [17:46]. We all need to make behavioral changes, we all need to recognize that very cheap air travel is unsustainable. But the changes need to come I think, at the at the societal level, they need to come from politicians. That’s why it’s so important to vote, to make sure you’re registered to vote to find out which of your candidates are Pro climate change mitigating policies, which ones are fighting it, which ones care about it.
Emailing your MP, they are your representative in Parliament. So, if you want things to change, you go to the local person, they have to listen to you. So, find your local pressure groups, raise the profile of the issue because we hearten for all the stress and the worry. It certainly is a big worry for me. Obviously, I work in this field, for all my individual worry, actually it’s structural change and system change that will help us to avert dangerous climate change.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. I’ve written to my MP recently, and tweeted her a few times. They are gonna get sick of me saying but I’m gonna carry on. What about food, because obviously food must have a massive impact on the planet. It’s one of those things that we do actually have control over to a certain extent, the choices that we make individually.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. There’s a carbon amount embedded in all of our food choices. So, our food system has really big global environmental impacts, food accounts for around a quarter of all of our emissions globally. It also uses up about 70%of all freshwater resources, so when we talk about pressure on freshwater resources. Its in agriculture really we’re thinking about. When we think about the impact on the natural world, agriculture, and our food system, occupies about 40% of the land surface.
So, it’s taking up a huge amount of space as well. Because of population growth, we haven’t talked about population growth, but the population is projected to increase to ten billion by 2050, which is not a very long time. We are looking at a situation where we need to feed people, we might need 60% more food by 2050, that’s going to double food emissions, and essentially that means that we need to change the way that we’re eating in order to stay under these sort of emissions targets. Farmed animal in particular are the problem here, they take up a huge amount of space. For example 80% of farmland is given over to pasture, or to grow feed for farmed animals. But they only produce about 18 percent of our calories.
So, there’s a real sort of inefficiency in terms of how we’re producing the food that we need to eat. Cows are unfortunately the biggest emitters of this. So, eating beef or choosing to eat less beef is one of the biggest changes that you can make in moving towards a plant-based diet. I read somewhere that if cows were a country, they’d be the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, which is crazy. Size of the problem is really huge, and it does mean that individual choices can make a difference in terms of reducing our emissions, reducing pressure on deforestation.
Chloe Brotheridge: No one’s saying you have to like go vegan or anything like that, but it’s just about maybe making some small changes. All of us probably do you need to make some changes about, I don’t want to buy blueberries that have been grown in New Zealand and flown across the world in a refrigerated plane.
Dr. Emily Lines: For sure, absolutely. I mean going vegan or going towards being vegan is actually one of the most effective ways, we’ve done on a global level that we could reduce emissions. There are some studies that suggest that we basically need to go toward an almost entirely plant-based diet in order to avoid dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. If we assume that the population will increase at the rate that we think it will.
Being plant-based in your diet is an incredibly effective way of reducing our emissions, it’s like four times more effective than recycling for example. So, it’s really a good choice that you can make. Like you say, maybe going fully vegan is too much for some people, or it seems like too big of a change. But going plant-based, and trying to reduce your meat intake quite substantially will help, and you’re completely right, buying a blueberries from New Zealand is kind of nuts, and transport is one of the big generators of greenhouse gas emissions as well. It’s kind of depressing in February, in the UK looking in the produce aisle, trying to find something nice. But if your blueberries have come from New Zealand or your asparagus has come from Chile, you really have to think about whether those carbon emissions of that journey are really gonna be worthwhile. If there might be some better choices that you can make.
Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah. I think, we do need to think about those things. I was in a cafe recently, and I ordered a Kombucha because I don’t drink anymore. Kombuchajust seems like the nearest things like a fun adult drink. But it come from New Zealand, and I was in England obviously, that’s come on a ship or something probably not on a plane. But still, like they make Kombucha in Hackney.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. I mean, you can talk to that café. Companies are driven by what they’ll sell, what consumers want to buy. So, if they put up New Zealand, and I’m not blaming any person. People who buy New Zealand Kombucha, they’ll keep buying it, they will keep shipping it in because the cost of the carbon is not included in the cost of shipping it in. That maritime journey which has all of these carbon emissions associated to it. If you can go to the company that is selling you that New Zealand kombucha, and ask them to please sell you a hackney kombucha.
Then they might make that change, and actually consumer pressure has been a driver of all sorts of changes in the UK. We know that it works, if it is done on scale. So, please talk to them about it.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay, I will. Should we talk about food a bit more? One thing that I’ve been doing recently is going to the market on a Sunday to buy vegetables there, which is definitely cheaper than going to Sainsbury’s. The food is not organic, but it’s without pesticides. They can sell it a bit cheaper because they haven’t had to go through the rigmarole of being certified as organic. But it hasn’t used pesticides, it should probably better for the soil, I imagine.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. I mean, pollution is one of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss. Obviously if it’s a like a local market, it’s all seasonal things. So, it hasn’t been like transported across the world. I mean, probably you walk to your local market. I’m living in a city, it’s kind of easy to take those low-carbon journeys. But the journeys that we’re taking are not only just our journeys, it’s the journeys of the things that we’re buying. So, if you’re buying something that has come from the local area, it’s a lower carbon food than something’s been shipped from Europe or from further afield. So, it’s a really good decision to make.
I also think this is a good time to bring up what can be an issue in when we’re talking about two key things like food and travel choices. So, sometimes making the low-carbon choice is much more expensive. There’s a real big inequality issue here, and again all this comes back to us living in a system where it’s difficult to make good choices. Because they can be more expensive, organic food can be more expensive than non-organic food.
Maybe you have to live near a nice trendy East London market in order to access these kinds of feeds. You can get into a sort of any inequality in that people who are on lower incomes, whose incomes are more stretched, or under more pressure, may not be able to afford low-carbon choices in their lifestyle. That’s incredibly unfair, and that’s a fault of the system. Of the society, of the way that we are incentivizing people to live good lives.
Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah. I think that’s such an important point, and yeah just wanting people to not beat themselves. I was having this conversation on Instagram with someone about I think was like recycled loo roll, or something. But I remember Emily, this is one of the things I think a few years ago, and I was like, what can I do about the planet. You’re like, why not having recycled loo roll, like don’t cut down trees to wipe your ass. So, that’s one of the times I made a few years ago, and we were just saying how, obviously it’s more expensive to buy recycled loo roll in a packet that isn’t, and it comes like a biodegradable plastic thing. But it’s like twice as expensive, it’s not accessible.
Dr. Emily Lines: That’s because the cost of that on recycled one doesn’t reflect the true environmental costs of producing it. Also, the cost of the recycled loo roll doesn’t reflect the savings, the carbon savings we’re making. There are some sort of pushes in the EU and other places to essentially make industry cost in carbon, and cost in environmental costs. They’re paying for the detriment to the environment, or paying for the carbon that they emit.
But these systems are not really operational, and the implementation has been really difficult to make these things. The price that we pay really reflect the cost of the production, and that’s a really good example. Something where the cheap option is bad for the environment but not everybody has the luxury of being able to choose to act in a way that’s good for the environment. I mean, I find it even, this is very privileged example but I try and eat organic. Because I’m worried about pollution in terms of pesticides and fertilizers into our soil systems, and into our freshwater systems.
But when I go to the supermarket, the loose stuff is the non-organic stuff, and I have to buy organic wrapped in plastic. I’m trying to do good in one hand, and then I’m buying plastic in the other. You just sort of stuck in this catch 22 situation, which is why we need pressure, why we need system change, why we need structural change, and why I refuse to be my individual self-up about it, you shouldn’t either. You’re being faced with these two bad choices, and that the government is not giving us, incentivizing us to live in ways that are better.
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Chloe Brotheridge: Make it the cheaper option for us to act in environmentally friendly wise.
Dr. Emily Lines: Don’t forget the governments are made up of individual people. So, you could always stand for government yourself, why not. If you think about, if you involved with a local group, why not think about running for Counselor. Can you stand for government, I will vote for you.
Chloe Brotheridge: What else should we talk about? What about, one thing I want to talk to you about was just having conversations with people about this sort of thing. Because I found myself having a lot of conversations with people. I think, we’re having more conversations about these topics. It’s more and more front of mind, is that a way that we can affect positive change?
Dr. Emily Lines: I think, for sure. Particularly, if you’re making individual choices that can help the environment. If you’re trying to consume less, which is one of the best things you can do. Just buy less stuff, repair the stuff you have, reuse it, recycling it, living car-free, taking fewer miles, eating a plant-based diet. People start to notice changes in your behavior. So, being open about those, and talking to people about why you’re making those changes, that is a really positive thing to do. It’s to do is shifting the conversation shifting, what seems as normal. The more people that act in these ways, the more normal it will be perceived.
Then, we get to shift where the argument is, and shift the dialogue around these issues. I think talking openly about your concerns to other people is really important. If you want to advocate, if you want to change people’s minds, you have to be really careful about how you’re doing it. Because you can come across as quite sort of hardline, and really, I think when you drop down into talking to people. A lot of people care about the natural environment. People have got something; they have some interest that you can hook on to. If you listen to somebody, you talk to them about how you’re feeling, finding out what they care about is really important being curious, being open-minded to engaging with them.
I find out why somebody feels the way they do. If they think differently to you, find out what the motivations are, and sometimes it can be things like economic. Blaming somebody, getting angry with someone for making a choice that you don’t think is the right one is really missing the big picture. I think absolutely, talk to people about your concerns, you can make a really big difference, you can influence people. You can do things like talking to your office, seeing if you can get rid of the plastic cups by the water cooler. See if you can switch your electricity providers to a renewable energy provider, see if you can implementing recycling. There is so much that we can do by interacting with people around us by making it a positive thing. By understanding, and making it a dialogue.
Chloe Brotheridge: I think, when it comes to having conversations about things. It can be easy; I think when someone’s really passionate about something. We can cross the line from passion into like judging other people. We really don’t want to do that because someone pointed out, made this point on Facebook recently, like you can have a go at someone for driving a 4×4 or whatever is people judge people about. But actually, if you have, we’ve all gotten smartphones that contain rare earth minerals, that have been mined by children.
So, none of us, apart from you Emily, actually you have the one. But I have got an IPhone. So, we don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to judging other people and their choices. I think, this is one of these things where making it about the individual is so destructive, making it about ourselves or them is such a destructive thing to do. If somebody is driving a 4×4, okay maybe they do, but maybe they care about, I don’t know passive pollution, maybe they care about the quality of the river in their area, maybe they care about the air pollution for their children. Maybe you can talk about those things, and you can leave the car to one side.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. Totally with you.
Chloe Brotheridge: We’re not short of topics to talk about here. One topic which, you and I have had conversations about before, it’s basically quite a taboo thing to sort of talk about, and that’s population. I guess, because I don’t know, maybe people interpret as being shaming, if they choose to have a lot of children, or they have little children already. But this is up something that I think David Attenborough has a campaign around.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah. So, I think when we think about environmental issues. It’s really important to understand the context, which is the population growth, very substantial population growth. In 1900, there were one and a half billion people on the earth, in 1960, there were three billion people, there are now about seven and a half billion people. By 2050, they’re going to be 10 billion people. It’s a hundred and fifty years from 1.5 billion to ten billion, and all of those people consume. So, you’re just multiplying consumption up, and all the environmental problems become harder and harder, and potentially impossible to solve with more and more people, if we don’t change how we behave.
We’ve got one planet, one set of resources, and there are so many more of us, and the rate of increase. So, this is a really modern problem that we’re facing, environmental issues are a modern problem because of the number of people on the earth. That’s really what’s influencing the urgency of it. When we think about population, we can’t avoid it as a question. It is difficult to have this conversation with some people, particularly there are sort of cultural reasons or people view the number of children, you can have as a very personal choice. But the study came out very recently they said having one fewer child was the biggest single contributor to reducing your overall emissions that are making your lifetime.
The four top ones were having one fewer child, the other three were living car-free, avoiding flights, and eating a plant-based diet. If you add up those three, it’s still 12 times less than having one fewer child. It’s 12 times more effective to have one for your child than it is to live your life carefree, to avoid flights, and to eat a plant-based diet. We can’t avoid, this is a topic of conversation. I’m absolutely not saying people don’t have children but you need to understand, if you’re trying to live more consciously, if you’re trying to understand the global picture of climate change. Then you have to look at population.
You’re right, David Attenborough campaigns for a group called ‘Population Matters’. They have a lot of really unbiased information on their website, and if you’re interested in. So, we encourage people to go and look at it, because this is in many places, a taboo subject. Not least for cultural issues, and challenging those sorts of beliefs and social norms around discussing the size of families is I think, it has to be part of a fighting climate change.
Chloe Brotheridge: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, I’m thinking about having children in the near future, and it’s definitely been on my mind of not wanting to make matters worse, but obviously we still need children. No one’s saying that children, we need them for the economy. So, thank you for talking about.
Dr. Emily Lines: I think there are some really positive things as well around this conversation. One of the biggest influences of how many children a woman has is how well educated she is. How much she has access to contraception and modern family planning, and population growth is going to be highest in places like sub-Saharan Africa. In low-income countries, and those are the ones that are likely to suffer most in climate change. If you are looking for places to give your money, then programs that keep women in schools longer, that promote modern family planning, that help women have access to contraception. So, that they can control their own futures, all of these things will not only improve their situation, will reduce poverty, will give them more power in their lives. It will also have positive impacts in terms of the environment.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. Lovely to have some action.
Dr. Emily Lines: Absolutely. Thank you for that.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. So, what I wanted to go back to one of the things you mentioned before about biodiversity loss, and the extinction of different species. Because I mean, could you say, I mean, I’m just playing devil’s advocates. I do know the answer, can you say oh does it really matter if like a load of like rodents and the Amazon die off or pandas are nice but it doesn’t really matter if they. Does not really affect us, does it? Does it really matter? Like just playing devil’s advocate.
Dr. Emily Lines: Well. Okay, that’s fair enough. I mean, pandas are one of the most highly invested in species in terms of conservation, it’s huge about millions and millions of dollars going to preserving them. Species are becoming extinct at very high rates. We’re in what we called there’s six mass extinction. So, the previous five were, the last one was when dinosaurs were wiped out, for example. So, that’s the kind of scale of change that we’re looking at. So, species do naturally go extinct, but the numbers are going extinct at the moment.
One in eight, non-microbial life forms are at risk of extinction. Yes, it matters. So, the reason that it matters is that we rely on the functioning of ecosystem. The reason it matters for us, in it from a selfish perspective, the reason it matters for humans is that we rely on functioning ecosystems for our soils that grow our crops.
We rely on pollinators to pollinate our crops. We rely on functioning freshwater ecosystems for water, for water for our food. We rely on forests to maintain our climate, to prevent soil erosion. We rely on aspects of the natural world in every element of our lives, and if it isn’t functioning. Because we’ve removed species from it, and we have degraded ecosystems, then ultimately it affects us.
We get things like more flooding, we get soil erosion, we get more droughts, we get unproductive farmland, and we risk our survival locally in different parts of the world that have been more seriously affected or even on a global scale. The issues are intertwined because one of the drivers of biodiversity loss particularly into the future is likely to be climate change.
Chloe Brotheridge: So, we’re all connected more than we realize. Other species are getting impacted, that impacts us. If the trees are getting cut down, that impacts us. It’s something that we’ve kind of forgotten, I think as modern humans. We are part of nature, and if nature is suffering, we suffer as well.
Dr. Emily Lines: I mean the things that we eat, our species, we rice, and we corn, we wheat, and we tend to have very large amounts of what we eat coming for a very small number of species. Ones that have been highly bred, domesticated and tamed for our own use, and what if some new pathogen comes along and wipes those out. If we’ve lost other biodiversity, maybe we can’t fight. Now, pathogen or maybe, we don’t have anything alternative lined up to feed us. It’s usually important, we do have to understand our reliance on the natural world and its interconnectedness with our own lives and our quality of life.
Chloe Brotheridge: Other things that we can do then about the species going extinct. I think, we have talked about a lot of things.
Dr. Emily Lines: I think it’s really important to understand what’s driving this extinction. The biggest driver really is us taking the land. So, we take huge amounts of the land surface, which isn’t the space for wildlife, and we appropriated for our own uses. Using land for agriculture, using inefficiently by doing things like raising beef, and raising feed for animals is essentially driving biodiversity loss. That’s been historically the biggest driver. I read this crazy statistic about the amount of livestock that we have on earth, it could might put this into perspective. So, ten thousand years ago, when were humans sort of roaming the earth. If you added up the weight of all land mammals, 99% of that would be wild animals, and 1% would be humans. Now, two-thirds of the total weight of all land mammals is livestock. About a third of it is humans, and 1% of it is wild animals.
So, the change that we have made in 10,000 years, which is pretty short. When we think about the lifespan of the earth, and even the lifespan of our species. The change that we’ve made is massive. When we understand what we have done, what’s driving this loss of these species, by taking the land, taking the habitat, degrading their ecosystems through things like pollution, through carrying diseases around the world, things like Dutch [Inaudible] [41:46] disease that killed off our elm trees in the 1970s. We can take action because we know what might cause future biodiversity loss.
Chloe Brotheridge: So, basically let’s leave the wild, let’s leave the Amazon. Protect the Amazon as much as possible protect the forests.
Dr. Emily Lines: Protecting our existing ecosystems, and understanding what it is that we’re doing that’s degrading them. I think, this again comes back, and I keep saying this. But coming back to structural changes, because if we do something like for example buy a lot of new clothes, and we buy a lot of fast fashion. Then that fast fashion is really cheap to us, but that’s because it doesn’t have, well I mean not only in many places, people making it not being paid properly. But it also doesn’t have included in that price the cost of the environment.
The cost of the environment is things like us using up the fresh water ecosystems, like dumping loads of pesticides on cotton crops, or the impact of throwing away that fast fashion. The methane of the producers in landfill, or the micro plastics that come when we wash polyester. So, if we’re thinking about what we can do, we need to think about what the actual cost of our choices are, not just the monetary cost, but the environmental costs as well. We need to demand that our elected officials do better in terms of incentivizing us, allowing us, and helping us to make better choices.
Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah. One of the things that I’ve been trying to focus on more recently. I’m saying this as someone who previously have had like quite an addiction to shopping, like literally every few days, an Amazon parcel wouldarrive at my door. I’ve stopped buying some Amazon now, because they don’t pay a single pound of tax in the recent tax year, not a single pound in the UK. Also, because I was just thinking about everything that I am buying comes from the earth, and has to go back somewhere at the end. Where it’s probably gonna go is into landfill or something.
I’m just basically trying to buy less stuff. I’ve been trying to educate myself a bit more about ethical consumerism. Obviously, aware that there’s so much we can do as individuals, but what are some of the things you think we can do when it comes to.
Dr. Emily Lines: Well. I mean, I think you’re doing exactly the right thing, trying to understand where your new products are coming from. What is going to happen to them at the end of their useful life to you. I think these are really important starts, understanding, making good choices. We can’t always not buy anything, sometimes we have to buy a new jumper, it’s cold outside we need a new coat. Buying less, buying better. So, buying things that are going to last longer. I think, it’s really difficult because we have this sort of fashion industry that pushes us to buy a lot. I read somewhere that a Zara brings out 24 new collections each year, which is two a month, which is insane. Nobody needs a change of wardrobe twice a month, but we’ve being faced with that, it’s being pushed on us.
The advertising is pushing us towards buying clothes, lots of garments are only 7 or 8 times nowadays where they’re thrown away. It’s just not a good use of resources. So, buying less, buying better, things that you’re gonna like for longer. If you do want to keep changing your wardrobe, which lots of us do, right. Fashion is really important about showing our identity, and looking at things like buying secondhand, using some of these new services where you can rent clothes instead of buying them.
So, thinking about fashion less is the product you buy, and more as a service that you rent. So, allowing you to update your wardrobe regularly particularly, if things are of low use. If you’re buying a new dress for a wedding you’re gonna wear it twice, well maybe it’s cheaper to rent it anyway, you get something nicer, you send it back and it’s reused again and again. Repairing things that we have, there’s lots of really good tailors out there who will sew up the hole in your coat or put a button back on, or you can even learn to do it yourself, it’s not too hard. All of these things will reduce the amount of resources that are being used by your fashion choices.
Chloe Brotheridge: I always wear out that little bit in between my legs, and a pair of jeans, and I buy jeans. I mean, got like two pairs of jeans. I try, and buy like slightly more expensive ones, which I have them for five years. I keep getting that little patch patched up where, I’ve rubbed it away with.
Dr. Emily Lines: I mean, I think it’s interesting when I look through my own wardrobe. There are brands in there that you wouldn’t think would last a really long time. But I’ve had that item of clothing for 10 years, and I wear it all the time. Then there are things that you maybe spend more money on, don’t last as long. It’s not always that the more expensive thing is the battery, I think sometimes you can look in your own wardrobe, and find the jeans that haven’t worn through, and think one next time I need to buy a new pair of jeans, I’m gonna buy from that brand. So, know it’s better.
Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, that’s such good advice. Like the idea of renting clothes as well. I’ve done that, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense for weddings. I have got dresses that I’ve worn once at wedding, I probably gonna not wear it again.
Dr. Emily Lines: I mean, even if you wanted to maybe recoup some of the value of that, you could sell that dress on, you could donate it, you could prevent somebody else having to buy something new by keeping the cycle going, having clothes. Having it be more standard that clothes that are owned by more than one person or used by more than one person. A lot of this is really just about understanding of value in the embedded energy, and the true cost of what’s in what we buy.
Chloe Brotheridge: We’re recording this in September, where is hashtag #Secondhand-September things in that, the Oxfam Ochs are pushing this campaign to encourage us to go to second-hand stores, and to make it normalize. Because there’s part of us, probably thinks, Oh secondhand, but actually it’s totally fine.
Dr. Emily Lines: There’s so much available. I think there’s lots of online retailers and places where you can buy from people secondhand, it’s obvious it’s really nice if you can go to a charity shop but sometimes you might not be able. Obviously,it’s really nice if you can go to a charity shop but there are all other ways of making sure your clothes are reused even when it you don’t want to wear them anymore.
Chloe Brotheridge: Like Depot.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah, I’ve never been on it, but I do hear quite a lot about it. I think it’s, well I spoke to my cousins who is 16, they obsess a Depot, they own it a lot basically, and sell all their old stuff on that.
Chloe Brotheridge: Why not, yeah.
Dr. Emily Lines: You don’t want it anymore, you get a bit of money back from it, and somebody else gets to have it.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. I am feeling inspired by this. So, if people are feeling anxious, they are feeling worried, they’re feeling helpless. They want to do something to make a change, what are the kind of key takeaway things that people can be.
Dr. Emily Lines: So, I think, it’s really important not to blame individual, don’t blame yourself for the system that you live in, for the way that the world works, it’s not your fault. Climate change is not your individual fault, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of the solution. Understanding that, getting involved, getting active, voting, putting pressure onto your local representative, putting pressure onto the companies that you buy from, all of these things can have positive impacts. In terms of our individual choices, the biggest choices that we can make is consuming less. We all consume too much. I think, we all throw away things that a half-used, unopened or we throw away so much food. We throw away things that.
Chloe Brotheridge: Third of our food.
Dr. Emily Lines: Third of our food goes into bin. It’s absolutely insane, so consuming less is better for your pockets, better for the environment. Reducing how much you need, repairing what you have reusing, repurposing things, selling them on, recycling. Then you can live a car free life, which I realize is very easy in a place like London where we are blessed with really good public transport. It’s much more difficult in other parts of the country, but if you can, living car free, reducing your car use, avoiding airplane travel, eating a plant-based diet or as far as you can get towards that. Considering the number of children that you might have. I know, it’s not such a popular thing to think about, but it’s a big decision in terms of your emissions.
Then, talking to people, I think it’s so important, arming yourself with information. There are so many issues that we’ve even touched on, or not we haven’t even covered today. The things that you care about are the ones that you’ll be able to talk most passionately about to other people, finding out what other people care about, raising the level of conversation, raising the understanding amongst your family and friends, and in your workplace. All of these things can be really positive, changes that you as an individual can make, but get political.
Chloe Brotheridge: Political. What do you think about extinction rebellion?
Dr. Emily Lines: I think, that is absolutely fantastic. I mean extinction rebellion have changed their national conversation on the environment. I think them and [Inaudible][50:43]are the reason that I’m having so many conversations like this with people. Whereas a year ago, I really wasn’t, people have started to care because they’ve got themselves on front covers of newspapers. I know that not everybody agrees with all of their tactics. think that when we look back in history about big social changes, there was always room for disruptive action, and nonviolent.
But what they want really is pretty simple, they want us to talk about the truth about climate and the ecological emergency, just like we’re talking about today. They want the truth to be out there, they want people to know, they want people to understand what the system we are living in is doing to our planet, and what the true consequences of it are for us as a species. So, I think that is incredibly important. I think, they’re fantastic. I don’t think you need to change yourself up in order to make changes, but I think.
Chloe Brotheridge: You don’t have to glue yourself to a bridge.
Dr. Emily Lines: You don’t have to glue yourself to a bridge, but I think the kinds of people that go out and do that, they change our conversation, they change what the newspapers are reporting, they change what parliamentarians are talking about, and that is incredibly valuable.
Chloe Brotheridge: So, when they are blocking the roads on the week of the 7th of October. Let’s try and support them, basically.
Dr. Emily Lines: Yeah.
Chloe Brotheridge: Give them money, or shout out what they’re doing, find a way to support them. I also heard, one of the reasons, I’m so passionate about them as I heard somebody on the radio, for some like ex-intelligence person call them a terrorist group, which I think is absolutely nuts. I think, that they’re a group that are trying to protect us from disastrous climate change, and disastrous biodiversity.
Dr. Emily Lines: Absolutely. The human race is not very good at dealing with slow burn problems. We’re really good at dealing with issues that are right in front of us, and we’ll sort them out. I believe in the ingenuity of the human race to solve problems; we’ve solved other big problems that we faced in the past. So, a group that is pushing what I believe to be an incredibly important issue, and to the forefront of the national conversation is incredibly valuable. I’m really grateful for what they’re doing.
Chloe Brotheridge: Amazing. Thanks so much for talking to me.
Dr. Emily Lines: Thanks Chloe. I’m so happy that we got to have this conversation.
Chloe Brotheridge: Me too.
Dr. Emily Lines: I think, it’s so brilliant that people like you are using your platform to talk about these issues.
Chloe Brotheridge: Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I do feel a sense of hope talking to you. I do feel reassured that I shouldn’t beat myself up, but actually there is a lot I can do as well.
Dr. Emily Lines: I think that’s really important to feel a sense of hope because we can actually prevent dangerous climate change, it’s within our grasp. When you look at the most recent IPCC reports, the Inter-Governmental Panel and climate, change which is the consensus of the world’s climate scientists. They agree that we have the solutions, we know what we need to do. We have the technology; we know what action we need to take. So, we can prevent dangerous climate change.
Chloe Brotheridge: Just need to get our asses in gear.
Dr. Emily Lines: We do need to get our asses in gear.
Chloe Brotheridge: Okay. Amazing, thanks so much. Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening. I really hope that you gained a lot from this episode. Come on over to Instagram, and let me know what are you taking from this episode. Find me at Chloe Brotheridge, I would love it if you would leave me a review in the podcast app or in iTunes. Subscribe to the podcast, leave me a rating. Is there someone in your life that would really benefit from this podcast, you can let them know by sharing this podcast. I’ll be so grateful. So, I’m just wishing you a wonderful week ahead, sending you loads of love. Hopefully you’re tuned in again, and I’ll see you soon.