September 24 2020 – By Matt Rogan
A lot of the environmental reform discourse is centred around rewriting the wrongs of our past. From fossil fuels to fracking, we’ve scapegoated the current environmental crisis onto the previous generation’s inaction and ignorance. This refusal to be accountable of the present is only stagnating the cause. We need to tackle an issue before it becomes on the verge of being irreversible.
With the UK failing to meet their targets for environmental reform in the 2010’s, will the 2020’s fare any better in recognising and remedying its own issues?
E-waste covers any type of electronic waste. The main three causes for concern are kitchen appliances, computers and mobile phones. These are appliances that are usually replaced every year because of public demand to keep up to date.
While plastic pollution is still a top priority for us to address in this decade, the rise in e-waste pollution has become equally as worrying. Without any intervention, the amount of e-waste is predicted to double by the end of 2030.
As we’ve become more technologically-dependant, we’ve become spoilt for choice. Nowadays, there are hundreds of brands that offer essentially the same product with slightly different embellishments. We have lost (and need to regain) our initiative to repair what is broken.
Instead, we have succumbed to the convenience of throwing it away and therefore contributing to the 50 million tonnes of e-waste dumped in landfill sites each year. To reduce the masses of e-waste, we need to rewire our insatiable materialism.
The Restart Project is a self-proclaimed ‘people-powered social enterprise’ aimed to teach people who are thinking of replacing their electronic products, to repair them instead.
The coal industry has been the main source of global power stations for the last century. Just like the 20thcentury’s Industrial Revolution, we need a similar energy renaissance for the 21st century too. In response to the dying coal industry, renewable energy sources will become a natural cog of everyday life.
As fossil fuels become more expensive and environmentally-damaging, eco-friendlier alternatives like wind and solar energy are in turn becoming cheaper and cleaner to use. The energy-efficient trend of solar panelling on the roofs of buildings may have kick-started in the 2010’s, but it is in the 2020’s that it’ll become a permanent household fixture.
From solar energy lighting, phone chargers and keyboards, there is already a sizeable market for solar powered gadgets.
Perhaps we won’t see any flying cars in the next decade but with petrol and diesel fuelled cars becoming more outdated, we’ll see our roads become 20% more dominated by electronic vehicles.
We’re living through such a precarious moment in the timeline against climate change. Our economy is not sustainable enough without coal, but our environment is not sustainable with it. One thing is for sure: we are running out of it.
Ultimately the 2020’s will introduce a solar surge and a coal collapse.
The rapid rise in migration from the countryside to metropolitan areas is another mounting modern day concern for this decade. The problem with urbanisation isn’t necessarily this city exodus (though research does suggest that approximately 60% of the world population will live in cities by the end of 2030) but how it will widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
One way we can combat this is to support local businesses. Simple everyday changes, from supporting sustainable eateries and fashion brands, is how we prevent a class divide. If we’re able to keep rural communities and businesses afloat, then they won’t drown in the debt that it takes to compete against big city brands.
On the other hand, this inevitable change of lifestyle has its benefits. There is evidence that shows that cities have less carbon emissions per person.
In ten years’ time, we’ll all be in a different phase of our lives and hopefully ethical living won’t be a trend, but a lifestyle. It is only through the combined agency of inter-generational activism, that we will reach our decade-end targets. Sure, in ten years’ time we’ll still be facing issues that are beyond imaginable right now. But for now, the 2020’s is ushering in a new optimistic era of environmental reform, one that’s learning to react before it’s too late.