LAST week, from New York to Sydney, Dhaka to Paris, millions of ordinary people joined a climate strike to demand action on global heating and the environment. In Yorkshire, too, concerned citizens of all ages and from all walks of life protested: in Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, and many smaller communities.

Firstly, I do not intend to waste anyone’s time by suggesting the scientific evidence is not overwhelming that we are in deep trouble as a species. At this late hour only oddbods, flat-Earthers and representatives of the oil industry still deny the extent of our danger.

Nevertheless, our understanding of how to address this crisis is constantly evolving. As the environmentalist Chris Packham points out: “We cannot separate one environmental crisis from another. Biodiversity loss cannot be partitioned from climate change, or from human population growth or pollution or plastics in our oceans. These challenges are all interconnected.”

The common theme – apart from our seeming inability to adapt quickly to this new reality – comes down to lifestyle and what we consider a “good life”.

Put bluntly, the belief that you are what you own or buy is threatening to burn the house down. It is, after all, the basic principle behind our capitalist, consumerist way of life. And it goes very deep in the human psyche, so much so it feels hard to imagine people shaking off such attitudes in the mere decade the recent IPCC report for the UN says we have left to save the planet. Nor should we forget that developing nations are being encouraged to copy the West’s planet-wrecking ways.

That is why I, for one, am sceptical about the argument that our best option is encouraging individual green, consumer choices. Of course that is important, but it is not enough in itself. Drastic problems call for drastic solutions. So much so, maybe we in the UK should look to lessons from history.

During the Second World War, Britain proved adept at abandoning the chaos of a free market economy for the common good. Industry, agriculture, transport, the kinds of goods available in the shops, all were adapted swiftly to meet the emergency. Oddly enough, the same areas of life need to change dramatically today if we are to address the climate crisis.

Take agriculture. According to a new report from the Food and Land Use Coalition, the public provides more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is worsening the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife. Shockingly, just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment. Much of the public money enables high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser.

The answer is simple and logical. Transfer our subsidies to re-wilding and organic farming rather than the kind of intensive, industrial-style agriculture we currently bankroll. It goes without saying that some powerful vested interests, whether landowners or corporate agri-businesses, will attempt to resist such reforms. But again the Second World War might offer a solution.

For the common good, inefficient farmers were stripped of their land and it was reallocated. Perhaps the same should happen to any farming concern that does not shift to sustainable, climate-friendly practices within a narrow deadline – especially if they are helped by the state through money and expert guidance.

Likewise, laws could be enacted forcing supermarkets to ditch over-packaging and replace plastic, wherever humanly possible, with biodegradable alternatives. Private car use could be phased out through massive investment in public transport and pooled electric car fleets.

Huge, long term investment has the transformative power to shift our industrial capacity from burning fossil fuels to utilising renewable energy: a truly exciting opportunity for a fresh industrial revolution.

Solutions are possible. We now have no more excuses for delay if we genuinely care about our children’s future. Above all, we need to confront the key message we’ve been taught since childhood, that consumerism is the road to happiness. Like it or not, the planet is calling time on that belief. Instead, we could focus on our relationships, pastimes, self-development, even the beauty of nature, rather than the objects we own.