Six actions that really matter
Protesters display placards and a banner during a “No climate, no deal” march at the White House in Washington, DC on June 28, 2021.
Evelyne Hockstein | Reuters
Hurricane Ida made landfall over Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds on Sunday, leaving more than a million Louisiana utility customers without electricity. The entire resort town of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate on Monday. More than 20 people have been killed as flash floods in New York and New Jersey caused massive flooding.
Those experiencing one of these crises made worse by man-made climate change are likely wracked with survival – to evacuate, to clean up the debris, to rebuild. On the other side of immediate security concerns, there is often a new resolve to tackle the common factor in these disasters: climate change. But the scale of the problem can make meaningful action impossible.
Can one person do something to make a significant contribution to climate change relief efforts? Most definitely, say climate change experts. Here are some simple things you can do right now:
Talk about climate change with your family and friends
Talk about climate change with the people around you.
“All great social justice movements started at the community level,” Jasmine Sanders, executive director of Our Climate, a youth advocacy organization based in Washington DC, told CNBC. It can mean “sitting down with your family to discuss climate change at the dinner table,” she said.
Likewise, said Jerome Ringo, co-founder and chairman of climate innovation company Zoetic Global, former head of the National Wildlife Federation and global ambassador for the Climate Clock countdown. “Everyone teaches one,” Ringo told CNBC. When you learn about climate change, pass this information on to your neighbor so that they too can have a conversation with another person.
“I call them kitchen conversations where people start to sit down and talk,” Ringo said. An informal conversation could lead a group to come together and decide whether to call their elected officials or start a neighborhood recycling program, he said.
Know the climate policies of your elected officials
Take the time to learn about elected officials’ positions on climate, climate justice and health expert Adrienne L. Hollis told CNBC.
“Really familiarize yourself with climate change legislation, for example executive orders from President Biden, and legislation proposed by various members of Congress,” Hollis said. She focuses on health, environmental justice and climate issues at her namesake Hollis Environmental Consulting and was previously at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “There are so many opportunities for the public to have their say,” Hollis said.
If it seems overwhelming to you to try it out for yourself, join groups that are already working on legislative issues, she said. “People need to know all the tools that are available to them, and from there, what tools are needed and missing,” she said. “Get involved locally, regionally and at the federal level. “
And stay up to date with developments. “Knowledge and awareness is power,” Sanders said. “Stay on top of the impact of climate change on all of us by reading the news daily, then use your super power to influence the change!”
Vote for climate-conscious leaders
“The most important thing that people can do is vote and vote on climate,” Michael E. Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, told CNBC.
“What we really need is systematic change and policies that will rapidly decarbonize our economy, like subsidies for renewable energy, carbon pricing and blocking new fossil fuel infrastructure. ‘individuals, we can’t do these things, “said Mann, who is also the author of” The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet “.
The vote is also the advice of Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University. More specifically, Wagner calls on individuals to “vote well”. You might think your vote doesn’t really count, given that you’re one voice among millions, but Wagner talks about that in an essay he wrote with the late Martin Weitzman.
“Stand up and vote; it is the right thing to do. And don’t vote just for the sake of voting. Vote as an informed citizen. Vote well “, Wagner and Weitzman write. “Vote for a cause bigger than you. Vote for those who promise more than advancing their own agenda (or yours!). Vote for those who seek to care for society as a whole. “
Advocate for a carbon price
“To have the most impact on tackling climate change, we need every individual to advocate for national and international policies that put a price and a cap on carbon emissions,” Jane Gilbert told CNBC, Miami’s very first Chief Heat Officer.
Maverick tech billionaire Elon Musk has said he also supports the idea of a price on carbon. “Honestly, my main recommendation would be to just add a carbon tax,” Musk told Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in February. “The economy works great. Prices and money are just information. … If the price is wrong, the economy is not doing the right thing.”
Musk said that the high concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere and the environment are, from an economic point of view, a “priceless externality.” An externality occurs when a consequence of production is not properly reflected in the market. In this case, it is a negative externality.
These externalities have serious consequences. “Right now, the most vulnerable in our country and around the world are already paying the price for continuing to operate as usual,” Gilbert said. “It’s time to put this cost on the fuels themselves and remove land leases and other subsidies to the fossil fuel industry,” Gilbert said.
If a carbon price were to be implemented, the money raised should be used to ‘address the inequalities of short-term price increases as we move to clean energy conservation and to help communities grow. adapt and recover from the impacts of climate change, ”says Gilbert.
Reduce your personal consumption
“Plant-based diets have a really positive influence on the climate,” Elin Kelsey, author of “Hope Matters,” told CNBC in a telephone conversation in August.
Around the world, livestock are responsible for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Cattle are the worst offenders, responsible for 65% of emissions caused by all livestock.
“Whether you’re a flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian, whatever it is, just eating more plants is a great direction to take,” Kelsey told CNBC.
Taking responsibility for our own carbon footprint can also mean traveling less, said Chris Funk, director of the Climate Hazards Center at UC Santa Barbara and author of the new book “Drought, Flood, Fire: How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes.”
“According to the EPA, transportation and power generation are the two biggest sources of emissions in the United States. Driving less, driving fuel efficient vehicles and flying less are simple ways that everyone can. make a difference, ”Funk said.
Start a decarbonization plan at home, Wagner said. Her own journey of greening the home was detailed by New York Magazine and included everything from new insulation to adding a heat pump to the roof and rewiring the home to support it – and that. cost over $ 100,000. But not all projects need to be this big.
“Many households can easily switch to an affordable electricity plan with a focus on renewable energy, and improved insulation and windows make our homes climate smart while saving us money,” Funk said.
As with the vote, Wagner berates statisticians who are willing to prove that their individual behavior does not matter. “Reducing your own carbon footprint to zero is a noble gesture, but it’s less than a drop in the bucket. Literally: the standard American bucket has about 300,000 drops; but you are one in over 300,000,000 Americans, and you are one in seven billion as a human being, ”write Wagner and Weitzman.
“So why go green at all? Because it’s the right thing to do. This is also how we learn the values that we need to apply on a much larger scale to tackle climate change,” he wrote. they.
In addition, your behaviors have an impact on those around you. “Recycle. Cycle to work. Eat less meat. Maybe go all the way and go vegetarian. Teach your kids to do the same and turn off the water while they brush their teeth. C It’s good for you. It’s good for those around you. It’s the right thing to do. “
Identify your passion or personal talent and use it
“Do anything – anything,” Wagner told CNBC. “It starts by talking about climate change. It also means doing what you do best. Students, study. Teachers, teach. Writers, write. Entrepreneurs, invent, build, ship! in it, and do it. “
With a little research, you’ll likely find a community of like-minded people, Kelsey said.
“What are you passionate about? What are you particularly good at … What do you do even if no one wants you to do it, because you love them so much?” Kelsey told CNBC. “Finding out what really motivates you, recognizing it and then losing that voice is the most effective thing to do. … This individualization and the recognition of our own emotional landscape, of our own passions, is where we do the most good, because these are the things that we will continue to do. “