Individuals can fight climate change with these important stepsDecember 28, 2020
A global problem may be huge, but people can make a difference in climate change by making their own changes.
While we look to governments and international corporations for their efforts to fight climate change, individuals should recognize that they can make a meaningful difference as well.
The efforts made by an individual may seem small, but collectively they can make a substantial impact.
A Yale poll conducted earlier this year showed that two out of every three Americans felt that they had a personal responsibility to fight climate change. However, although there are things individual people can do to cut down on their own carbon emissions, it’s clear that cooperation is required on a global scale to make a solid difference. This will be particularly true of overhauling the global energy system.
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The substantial reduction in global carbon emissions when many of the countries around the world were simultaneously locked down as a result of the pandemic made it clear that if everyone were to work together, we would be able to see, feel and record considerable changes. Of course, that reduction was temporary, and greenhouse gases are rapidly removing to their pre-pandemic levels. However, the illustration of the difference that could be made was a powerful one.
As companies set targets to fight climate change that are decades away, individuals can also act.
Companies and governments have set their goals to combat global warming, but most are decades away and are far from ideal in terms of their impact on slowing the planet’s rising temperature. Here are some steps individuals can also make in the meantime and as a growing number of opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint emerge.
- Reduce use of fossil fuels – Drive less when possible, walking, cycling or using public transportation when it is reasonable to do so. Turn down your home heating by a degree or two and turn up your thermostat by a degree or two when the air conditioning is on in the summer. Try to avoid flights with connections as takeoff and landings represent the largest portion of airline emissions. If feasible, consider options to fight climate change through alternatives such as electric vehicles (cars, scooters, etc), or even installing solar panels on your roof or land.
- Eat smart – Reduce your consumption of meat (even if it means just one meatless day per week) and waste less food and water overall.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle – Use these practices in that order. Reduce whenever possible. When you must consume, look for second-hand or reusable options (or ways to reuse options that weren’t necessarily intended for reuse) whenever possible. Finally, recycle as much as possible when reducing and reusing are no longer options.
- Lead by example – Be proud of the changes you’ve made and talk to others about it. Share these improvements on social media. Avoid being preachy about it as this can build resistance. Instead, be an example. You may inspire someone.
- Get involved locally – Participate in local grassroots efforts and/or become involved in local politics. Don’t forget to leave privilege at the door.
- Keep learning – Remember that the situation, technologies, and regulations are ever-evolving. Remaining informed can help you to learn about new opportunities to fight climate change.