Saving the World, One Story at a Time – A Climate Change Editor on the Surprising Things You Can Do To Help

In a time where journalists are being laid off left and right *coughs* it’s a rare luxury indeed to find a media organisation funding not one, but two full-time journalists that are dedicated to covering climate change. In March, Stuff launched The Forever Project, a dedicated section of the site that is spearheaded by Climate Change editor Eloise Gibson.

She’s in charge of reporting on any news that relates to sustainability and the climate – new airports, new research and new political leaders included – as well as putting together a quarterly magazine dedicated to all things environmental. She tells Capsule how Kiwis are more receptive than ever to both hear about and do something about the changing climate, plus her easy, everyday tips for doing your part.

Stuff’s Climate Editor Eloise Gibson Picture: Ricky Wilson/Stuff

In your experience, how has the average Kiwi’s attitude changed towards climate change in the last few years?

Well, it’s always hard to know, when you spend your time speaking to people who are working in this area and very interested in it. I do think people outside that bubble have shifted to become more concerned, and to be more aware of what changes might be coming, whether or not we’re ready for them, and I’ve definitely seen the farming and business sectors shift in the tone of their public statements. I was just reading a statement by the IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee, saying the biggest challenge and opportunity for the authors of the next IPCC report is the “massive increase in public awareness” since the last report came out in 2014.

What are the topics within The Forever Project that you’re finding the most popular?

Anything linked to extreme events happening right now does well – like stories linked to droughts or floods and how they might change. Personal stories about individuals doing cool or interesting things, too. Farmers grappling with climate change are popular. Our big hit last week was an analysis of five things Judith Collins had said on climate. And, obviously anything with a Covid link, though that’s fading a bit now. 

The theme of your last issue was ‘Green Rebound’ – do you think the Covid rebuild will give us a chance to rebound from the pandemic in a climate-friendly way? 

It has certainly given us a chance – what’s not clear yet is whether we’ll take it.

What are some simple tips when it comes to being a little more environmentally friendly each day? 

I’m far from perfect myself, so I’m not claiming any high ground here, but when I talk to the people who crunch the numbers on our household carbon footprints, they say diet and transport are the two big things. So anything you can do to use your petrol car less, and fly less, is good. But there might be barriers stopping you from using other options – so seeing what those are, and writing to your council, and supporting local and national politicians to fix them, is also important. I think we could all use a bit of help to make it easier to do the right thing. 

Diet’s another big one – it’s not always easy to know if your tomatoes are from a coal-heated greenhouse but, in general, if you go from eating loads of meat to a more modest amount, you’ll be using less resources. If you’re a good saver you’re probably doing okay by the planet – just generally buying less stuff you don’t need is a good thing, and so is choosing treats that employ people rather than resources (a massage!). Just check that whoever’s investing your savings has an investment policy you can get behind, so your money isn’t undoing all your good work.

What do you do yourself to minimise your impact on the environment, and has there been anything that you do that you find particularly helpful?

We just bought an EV, which should get our household footprint down, though we still have an old petrol car we don’t use much that we should probably let go of. We’re lucky we can walk a lot of places we need to get to from our house, despite being in the ‘burbs. My husband is considerably more virtuous than me – he doesn’t eat meat and he’s the one who organises the vege garden and tends the compost. Probably the next thing to tackle is flying. I like to travel but I’m thinking much more carefully about which trips are really important and whether I can bundle a whole lot of stuff into one longer trip. That’s assuming we ever get to leave the country again.

If you had the power to change one thing about the world, what would it be? 

That’s the kind of question that makes my brain explode, I honestly can’t pick one! If only the world’s problems were so simple….

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