Global Warming & What We Can Do About It
With increasingly toxic air, shorter winters, the Gulf Stream slowing (if it reverses, we are…), water-giving glaciers disappearing for billions, crop failures…it’s time we act, urgently, now. Our habits will be the death of us, and our children.
Humans are not evil. There is so much kindness, so much decency, creativity, delight. But we become evil when we become selfish, when we mistakenly think that my happiness is separate and more important than yours.
Basically all of the human-caused environmental issues are here because of selfishness and greed. We want more, we want bigger, we want newer, we want faster...
Climate change isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s ours. We are the change, or not. Everything we’ve ever cared about is on the line in this single wrinkle in time.
If we persist in our attachment to old ways, to comfortable selfishness, we will all pay the price. And “will,” though future tense, is “now.” And “now” is worse and more terrible with every passing flood and beetle killing trees and ticks passing along disease and heat waves and wildfires and tsunamis and floods and toxic smokey air and heat island and and bleached corals and species extinction and crops killed, and mad cow diseases and pandemics.
Scientists say that if we won't make drastic changes and become carbon negative by 2030 we may reach a state where global warming and all of its disastrous environmental effects will become irreversible.
It’s time, right now, to get emotional. Don’t close your eyes. Lose the insesent need for comfort and for more, and find the light of caring, waking up your habit changing will-power and advocacy.
Start small, and go big. Think globally, and act locally. It’s not either/or - it’s both…and it’s now.
Drinking out of hot plastic is bad for you. Do your best to avoid plastic all together as much as you can. Shop in the local market. Bring your own jars as you buy in the bulk food store.
Skip coffee to-go cups. You’ve heard it before…but really. Most of us don’t do it. Skip the straw. Skip the plastic or styrofoam juice cup. Put stuff on power strips and turn it off when not in use, it will save both the environment and on your electricity bill.
Take off your shoes before walking in the house - you’ll have to clean less.
Bike, walk, bus, carpool if you can. Or try to combine trips rather than going back and forth a lot. I know everyone says this, but really. It’s more fun, too!
Eat less meat, or no meat. Please. We really don’t need it. Why are you still willing for other beings to suffer and be murdered just for the pleasure of your taste buds? Really anything that is not vegan is even tastier when we make it vegan. And it is guilt free. In fact, it’s healthier without it. We can let go of that and save our planet and a few billion animals’ suffering while we are also stopping the production of methane, the most dangerous greenhouse gas.
Don’t want to do this stuff? It’s your choice. But climate change is not a choice - It is happening if you want it or not - So we would better make choices to stop it while we still have the capacity to choose.
Power your life (and car, ideally) with solar or offset and with wind. There are more and more options to do this for free, where you’re just leasing the solar. Usually, you can pay a small additional fee even to the big electric corporations to wind or solar your power supply.
Most importantly: Vote. Vote thinking about the future, about the next generations, the next 7 generations, not just about immediate profit. The change needs to come from the top down as much as from the bottom up.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals Earth could be less than 10 years from heating by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
This is a threshold beyond where even more serious and frequent fires, droughts, floods and cyclones are expected to wreak havoc on humanity.
Produced by the world's most authoritative body on climate science, these are some of the key findings of the most comprehensive climate report EVER released.
- Global warming would likely increase to 1.5C by about 2030 (this is only 8 years from now!!!!!) based on our current trajectory.
- The effects of those rising temperatures include rising sea levels, longer fire seasons and worse droughts.
- In 2015, as part of the Paris Agreement, all governments had agreed to try to stop warming at 1.5C… Almost nothing has been done since then and a few key players, including the USA, have pulled out of the agreement.
The latest report from the United Nations calls for "rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions", urging people to treat climate change as an "immediate threat".
It is amazing how we all, nations and individuals, took part in a global action to stop the COVID pandemic while doing nearly nothing about the environmental change happening, changes that are becoming irreversible unless we take immediate action, and that are detrimental to humans and other species on earth.
As humans, every aspect of our life is reliant on the natural environment. This includes the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the products that are made and sold to create jobs and drive the economy.
A healthy and stable climate is our most precious natural resource.
Just a few years ago, governments such as Australia and the USA claimed that they simply can’t stop the economy for anything, including the environment. But with COVID, we have seen now that they are more than able to do just that and pour a lot of money into supporting those who struggle as a result.
Global warming stresses ecosystems through temperature rises, water shortages, increased fire threats, drought, weed and pest invasions, intense storm damage and salt invasion, just to name a few. One in six species is at risk of extinction because of climate change.
Why is it still allowed to produce plastic? We all know how harmful it is for the earth and all animals. We can make the same products from plant starch.
Why are we still allowing for fossil fuels to be used? The technology to efficiently and cleanly replace this is already here.
Why are we still growing billions of methane producing animals a year for human consumption? We know that it is wrong on the moral and environmental levels and alternative that don’t scream are abundant.
We know of so many beautiful ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere (such as planting trees, propagating seaweed in the oceans, and even some clean machines), but governments are still putting their money to fund wars. Why? Why? Why?
I don’t know why… Maybe we are all too oblivious. Maybe we are all sleepwalking being led like sheep to the slaughter.
Oh! We need to wake up! We need to wake up our brothers and sisters, our communities, our governments, the United Nations…
Some recent polls show that over 50% of young people believe that there is nothing they can do to improve the state of the environment, the one our generation has created.
We need to join hands and hearts and voices and speak up together for this urgent change that is desperately (really) needed.
Are you with me?
Bring: Nothing. Less is more.
Connecting to the Environment
Walk around the room as if for the first time and get familiar with your new environment.
Look at things up high, look at things down low. Look at big things and look at small things. Look at obvious things, and look at things that you need to look hard to actually find and see…
Check all of the hazards, the switches, the doors…
See things for the first time, with excitement and a childlike wonder. Wow!
Be excited about things like a child; everything is made out of sunshine (think about photosynthesis)! Wow!
Now feel your environment with your hands… Take sometime to do this. Maybe try the back of your hand so that you can feel it differently from how you usually do and get a fresh perspective here…
Now feel your surroundings with your feet… Now try to feel it all with your cheek… Try with other body parts… Try listening to it to by putting your ear against different parts of your environment!
And continue straight to the Meeting Game.
We are a part of the environment too, we all are.
Did you know that human are animals, just like any other mammal, bird, reptile or fish?
We all feel, and we are all impacted by our environment and the changes that are happening in it.
Put the music on and guide the group to:
- First just quietly walk around the room
- Be Aware of your steps
- Explore the environment we are in
- Now be aware of the other people in the room
- Meet them with your eyes
- Meet them with your Feet/Elbows/ Shoulders/Ears/Bums
What is Global Warming?
Today’s class is about the environment and about global warming.
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are elements that occur naturally in the Earth's atmosphere. However, since the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800, human activity has caused more and more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere as pollution.
All this extra human-made pollution creates a greenhouse effect around the Earth, which traps heat from the sun and warms the planet's surface and oceans - This is known as global warming. This global warming causes changes to the Earth's climate patterns, which has big impacts on our climate, oceans and ecosystems.
In 2015, the Earth's temperature had already warmed by 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels . If global warming continues at its current rate, the world will be on track to warm between at least 3°C and 4°C by the end of the century, with devastating impacts on the people and places we love.
The sun gives us heat and energy. The atmosphere (made of gasses) helps us to keep that heat in. Without it our planet would be too cold.
But like anything else, when there is too much of something it becomes bad. In this case, to much of the heat trapping gasses, will cause the planet to overheat risking the very existence of humans and all other animals.
Shield & The Sun - I like introducing this game gradually because it makes it clearer and easier to play when we finally get to the full version of it.
- Secretly choose one person in the room, don’t change it. Walking around the room, be as far from that person as you can. Follow someone without them knowing... After a minute, be as close to that person as you possibly can.
- Secretly choose 2 people. Walking around the room, try and keep both of them as far as you can from you… After a few minutes, try to stay as close as you can to both of them.
- And now the full Sun & Shield: Each child secretly chooses two others, one to be the shield and the other the sun. Once the game starts and everyone starts to move around the space, the goal is to keep the shield between yourself and the sun at all times. The sun is too bright, so you always need to keep the shield person between you and the sun person.
The game ends when everyone comes to a stop or when time is up.
It is quite amazing to see everyone moving around the room trying to find the right place to strike the perfect balance for the game to come to a pause. It always reminds me of stars and planets all magically moving around in the universe!
Environmental This or That
This or That is a game that asks players to choose between two related options. The point of the exercise is to share preferences and find common ground. Plus, sometimes a player must make a difficult decision.
Here are some environmental This or That questions:
- Rain or Sun?
- Walk or Bike?
- Land or Sea?
- Mountain or Ocean?
- Fields or Woods?
- Winter or Summer?
- Spring or Fall?
- Birds or Reptiles?
- Fruits or Vegetables?
- Dolphins or Sharks?
- Penguins or Polar Bears?
- Lions or Tigers?
- Panda Bear or Koala Bear?
- Garden or Meadow?
- Recycle or Compost?
- Rainforest or Jungle?
- Local or Fair Trade?
- Solar Power or Electric?
- Trees or Flowers?
- Hiking or Cloud Gazing?
- Tofu or lab made meat?
Ask the group each of these questions and let them all reply in a Pop-Corn fashion, speaking freely their sort responses into the circle.
What are greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gases are:
- Water vapour
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous oxide
Greenhouse gases are gases that can trap heat. They get their name from greenhouses. A greenhouse is full of windows that let in sunlight. That sunlight creates warmth. The big trick of a greenhouse is that it doesn’t let that warmth escape.
That’s exactly how greenhouse gases act. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. Overall, greenhouse gases are a good thing. Without them, our planet would be too cold, and life as we know it would not exist. But there can be too much of a good thing. Scientists are worried that human activities are adding too much of these gases to the atmosphere.
GreenHouse Effect - Trust Circle - Standing up, gather in circles of 6-10 people. One person stands in the middle with arms crossed over their chest. The people in the circle take one leg back into a Warrior 1 Pose and have their hands ready to catch the person in the middle. You want the circle to be pretty tight to start with.
With children under the age of 10, I would recommend having an adult with each circle ready to catch the person in the middle at any time with their long grownup arms.
Now, the person in the middle closes their eyes and falls while the circle catches them and even pushes them around - It is even more fun if everyone in the circle makes tribal and jungle animal noises while at it!
After a minute or so, help the person in the middle find their centre and switch roles.
The World Is Upside Down
In December 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by 195 countries to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. The long-term goal is to keep global warming well below 2°C by the end of the century, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C .
As part of the Paris Agreement, each country needs to implement measures to meet these goals:
- Net zero carbon pollution before 2050.
This means that the amount of greenhouse gas pollution emitted is equal to or less than the amount absorbed, captured or offset.
- 100% renewable energy before 2050, including 100% renewable electricity before 2035.
This means moving away from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to generate energy, and instead increasing the use of clean renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
We are nearly 7 years after those agreements were made, with no substantial change made yet by either individuals or governments.
So yes, the world is a bit upside down… Too often, we care about the wrong things… People are putting comfort before kindness and consideration, companies are putting profit before social responsibility and governments are putting wars and protecting oil interests before peace and conservation.
NOW is the time to focus on the most urgent biome for our survival - The world! Without it none of us would exist.
This is exactly why we need to stand on our heads! It helps us see things a bit straighter and reorganize our priorities!!!
The Rainbow Protective Circle - In groups of three, two students are the Mini Teachers and they create a wall by holding each other wrists while the third student comes up to a Headstand. The Mini Teachers can assist in going up by holding the third student’s ankles. Once they are up, the Mini Teachers close the protective circle. This creates a safe space for the third student to fall in until they find their own balance.
When we hold our students in a balancing pose, they will never find their own balance. By allowing them the space to explore their balance they will find the way to do it much faster.
Headless Headstand - This is a fun pose and it is also great because there is no pressure on the neck here or compression of the vertebras.
It can be done with the base in Table Top Pose (easier for the flyer with the angle of the thighs) or in Bridge Pose (easier for the base if their arms or wrists are tired). The flyer stands at the feet of the base and then places their shoulders on the base’s thighs close to the base’s knees. The flyer holds the base’s ankles and lifts up into the Headless Headstand.
It is helpful if the base squeezes their thighs a bit (not too much) over the flyer’s neck.
You can also add a mini-teacher here standing over the bases chest facing the flyer and helping them to stay steady and find their balance. Mini-teachers should use the Hot Potato technique (the flyer is too hot, like a hot potato, to hold) here where they don’t hold the flyer in the pose; rather they touch for just a second and let go, guiding the flyer gently to find their own balance.
What Causes Global Warming & What Can We Do About It?
In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.
Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the planet's temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and farming.
1. Burning fossil fuels
When we burn fossil fuels like coal, and gas to create electricity or power our cars, we release CO2 pollution into the atmosphere.
Cars Trucks Airplanes Ships
Machines Yoga Creation - The players place themselves one after the other in a moving yoga pose. The whole pose can move back and forth, just one part of the body can move, or you can move between two different poses, but the same movement continues unchanged.
This requires a group effort, so make your movements compliment your friend's movements to create a Yoga Machine that works better.
Reducing the amount of electricity generated from coal and gas and increasing the amount of electricity from clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Windmill Solar Panels
Shift as much as possible to transportation that uses less fossil fuels.
Buses Trains Bicycle
Skateboard/Scooter/Rollerblades (All upside down)
2. Deforestation & Tree-Clearing
Plants and trees play an important role in regulating the climate because they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen back into it. Forests and bushland act as carbon sinks and are a valuable means of keeping global warming to 1.5°C or under.
But humans clear vast areas of vegetation around the world for farming, urban and infrastructure development or to sell tree products such as timber and palm oil. When vegetation is removed or burnt, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming.
Up to one-fifth of global greenhouse gas pollution comes from deforestation and forest degradation.
Cutting Trees & Rolling On Logs - Everyone in the circle balances in Tree Pose. You go around “chopping down” all of the trees making a fuss of cutting their leg off :-)
So all the trees fell down on the ground… Lie down on the floor, hands alongside your body or straight over your head, and roll in one direction. Try not to hit other logs… hmm… or maybe try to hit other logs, it’s much more fun!
Now a few (at least three) children or parents lie down like logs close to each other. One child lies on top of them and lets herself be moved forward as the logs roll in the same direction.
Plant Tees - It Solves Everything!
- The trees hold the water in the soil with their roots.
- The forest keeps the surrounding area cool with its shade.
- The forest provides homes for many animals.
- Forests clean and enrich the air we breathe. Their leaves and needles take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen through the tree’s bark.
In pairs, one partner is a seed in Child Pose and the other partner is the gardner. Using their imagination, the Gardener waters the Seed and care for the soil. The Seed Person stays relaxed now as the Gardner sculpt them gradually to sprout and grow first into a small plant and then gradually into a tree. The Seed does not help, they simply stay in the pose that the Gardner moves them into. The Gardners can continue to help stabilize the trees by pressing their foot into the earth (this helps in finding more stability in the Tree Pose). Switch roles!
Shop sustainably - Eco Yoga Shopping Game - Standing in the circle, or on Zoom in order from top left to lower right, the first participant say “I went to the shop and I bought ______ (fill in the blank with a sustainable choice)” and makes a yoga pose for it.
The second participant also says “I went to the shop and I bought...” first saying and acting in a yoga pose what the person before them did and then adding their own.
The game continues as each participant in their turn repeats all the items and poses that were said before and adds their own.
It’s a memory game where you get to do lots of yoga along the way!
If it is a small group, you can do a few rounds, adding more and more items and poses to your list.
You can also play where everyone repeats all of the items and poses together. Less memory is needed here by each individual and everyone gets to do more poses. Yay!
Call on our leaders to introduce stronger laws to stop excessive tree-clearing - Yoga Cheerleading - Using real pom-poms or imaginary ones, the teacher leads the players in a cheer to that word asking them to mimic you as you jump and cheer through many yoga poses - Choose words advocating for the environment of course!
- Give me a “Y”! – “Y”! (And players all do “Y” with their bodies)
- Give me an “O”! – “O”!
- Give me a “G”! – “G”!
- Give me an “A”! – “A”!
- What did we spell? – “YOGA” (participants line up to spell it with their bodies)
- I can’t hear you. What did we get? – “YOGA”
3. Agriculture & Farming
Animals, livestock like sheep and cattle, produce methane, a greenhouse gas. When livestock graze at a large scale the amount of methane produced is a big contributor to global warming.
Methane is a much more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2 as it traps heat much more efficiently.
Some that farmers use also release nitrous oxide, which is another greenhouse gas.
Most of the forests cut, including the Amazon, are cleared for grazing farm animals.
Here are some of the beautiful animals being farmed:
Cows Sheep Goats
Chickens Fish Pigs (lying down holding knees to chest and rolling in the mud making pig noises)
Go Vegan - Yoga Fruit Salad - Let all the players stand in the middle of the classroom, or if you are teaching online have them stand in the middle of the screen.
As the music stops, the teacher will announce the names of either a fruit or a vegetable.
When the teacher says any fruit name everybody has to run towards the left side of the room or the screen and when they say the name of any vegetable everybody has to run towards the right side of the room or the screen.
The one who runs towards the wrong side will need to freeze in Pineapple Pose. We will play until everyone is frozen in this pose in the middle of the classroom or the middle of their screens.
It gets confusing because avocados and tomatoes are actually fruit...
The routine decisions that shape our days — what to have for dinner, where to shop, how to get to work — may seem small, but collectively they have a big effect on global warming.
Climate change is a proven fact. Global warming has caused serious changes to the planet, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, deforestation, disappearance of species... But, as individuals we can slow down global warming by implementing small more sustainable actions within our community.
We all need to do our part! Make better choices with what you buy and what you eat, conserve water by taking shorter showers, turn off any unused lights or devices to reduce energy use, walk or bike more rather than using motorised transportation, reduce, reuse, recycle.
Turn It Off - Play some fun music and let the kids move freely around the room. They can walk, jump, dance, crawl… But each child has a pause button… Whenever you press their pause button they have to freeze in a yoga pose of their choice until you come back around and unpause them.
About 20-30 Minutes for this whole section
Use Your Voice & Social Media To Advocate
From Greta Thunberg to Extinction Rebellion, climate change activists have used social media to make their campaigns go global.
But you don't need to be part of a group to advocate for climate change.
In terms of what to share on your social media channels it's helpful to point out the consequences of climate change. It's important to show people that climate change isn't just some abstract notion, these extreme weather events are literally killing people.
According to Greenpeace just 20 fossil fuels companies are responsible for a third of all our greenhouse gas emissions put together.
So while cutting out meat and single-use plastic helps on an individual level, the government and big businesses are the ones that can make bigger changes faster.
Anyone wishing to make a difference might want to consider getting involved in campaigns that put pressure on governments and big polluters to act. Small steps from individuals are all well and good, but what we desperately need right now are big steps from business and political leaders.
Joining environmental campaign groups, charities and protests will remind those in power of their responsibilities for the climate.
You can write to your MP and local councillors to find out more about what is being done where you live and pressure them to do more.
We have more power than we realize to demand measures from governments to raise global awareness of the global warming problem.
Think globally, act locally. Your actions are needed in the fight against climate change. Can you think of any other things to do? Share them with us and everyone!
Salutation To The Earth - Divide the class into 1 or a few groups depending on the size of your class, and have each group create a group sequence (like in the Rainbow Human Mandala and Rainbow Yoga Chirography) which represents love and adoration and hope for the earth. You can use the Earth Ball if you have one.
Film it! And if everyone agrees, let them share it on their social media with them writing about what feels so urgent to them with climate change.
10 Minutes to create, 5 to perform.
From Little Things Big Things Grow
As an aid to thinking about the many interconnections of this topic we are going to use this technique involving starting with a "What if……?" and responding with as many consequences as possible.
These are arranged around the original “What if….?” and connected to it through consecutive circles radiating out from the center. The primary consequences themselves have secondary consequences in the next circleout, etc.
You can do it verbally or if you can, make it visual on the whiteboard or on paper.
Example scenarios might be:
Temperature rises → Ice caps melt → Sea level rises → Coastal flooding → Coastal Cities destroyed → Millions of people die
We stop using fossil fuel and we all go vegan → Temperature stabilize → Global warming stops → Massive extinction of species stops → Humans are saved too → We keep making better choices and we all live happily ever after
Out Of This World Meditation
Something happened and you died, no pain. Watch yourself leave your body, leave the world, it will keep spinning without you.
While you float up there 3 questions are being presented to you:
- What did you love about your life?
- What regrets do you have?
- Given another chance, what would you do differently?
All of a sudden you feel a pullback towards the earth, towards your body!
Drift back to the world, but hold your breath for as long as you can… Take a full breath as if breathing for the first time… Breath new life… What will you do with the new life you were given?
Inhale Sunshine, Exhale Rainbows
Inhale Sunshine when raising hands straight up over your head and Exhale a Rainbow slowly drawing your hands down on both sides of your body to create a rainbow shape.
Be The Change You Want To See In The World
Below are playlists for different parts of the class plan:
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