Protesters display placards and a banner during the “No Climate, No Deal” march to the White House on June 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Evelyne Hawkstein | Reuters
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph on Sunday, leaving more than one million Louisiana utility customers without power. The entire resort area of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate on Monday. More than 20 people have died in flash floods in New York and New Jersey, which caused massive flooding.
Those who survived one of these crises, made worse by man-made climate change, are probably gnawed at by survival: evacuation, cleaning up debris, reconstruction. However, beyond immediate security concerns, there is often a new resolution to tackle the factor common to these disasters: climate change. But the scale of the problem can make meaningful action impossible.
Can a single individual do something to make a significant contribution to climate change relief efforts? Certainly, say climate change experts. Here are some simple things you can do 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 could mean “sitting down at the table with your family to discuss climate change,” she said.
So said Jerome Ringo, co-founder and chairman of climate innovation company Zoetic Global, former head of the National Wildlife Federation and global ambassador for Countdown Climate Clock. “Everyone teaches one,” Ringo told CNBC. When learning about climate change, pass that information on to your neighbor so they can have a conversation with someone else.
“I call them kitchen conversations where people sit down and start talking,” Ringo said. An informal conversation could lead a group to come together and decide whether to summon their elected officials or start a neighborhood recycling program, he said.
Know the climate policies of your elected officials
Adrienne L. Hollis, climate justice and health scientist, asked CNBC to take the time to learn about the climate positions of elected officials.
“Get really familiar with climate change legislation, for example President Biden’s Executive Order, and legislation proposed by various members of Congress,” Hollis said. She focuses on health, environmental justice and climate issues in her eponymous Hollis Environmental Consulting and was previously a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “There are a lot of opportunities for public input,” Hollis said.
If it seems overwhelming to you to try, 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 at the local, regional and federal levels. “
And stay up to date with developments. “Knowledge and awareness is power,” Sanders said. “Learn how climate change is affecting each of us by reading the news daily, then use your super power to effect the change!” “
Vote for climate-conscious leaders
Michael E., professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. “The most important thing people can do is vote and vote on the climate,” Mann told CNBC.
Mann said, “We really need systemic change and policies that quickly dismantle our economy, such as subsidies for renewable energy, carbon pricing and blocking new fossil fuel infrastructure. As such, we cannot do this job. He is also the author of “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet”.
Voting is also the advice of Gernot Wagner, climate economist at New York University. More specifically, Wagner asks individuals to “vote well”. You might think your vote doesn’t really matter, considering you’re one voice among millions, but Wagner writes in his essay with the late Martin Weitzman.
“Stand up and vote; it is the right thing to do. And don’t vote just to vote. Vote as a conscious citizen. Vote well. Wagner and Weitzman write. “Vote for a cause bigger than you. Vote for those who promise more than just pushing their own agenda (or yours!) Forward. Vote for those who want to see society as a whole.
Advocate for a carbon price
Jane Gilbert, Miami’s first Chief Heat Officer, told CNBC: “To have the most impact on the fight against climate change, we need every individual to advocate for national and international policies that impose a price. and a cap on carbon emissions. “.
Maverick tech billionaire Elon Musk has said he also supports the idea of a carbon price. “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 is working very well. Prices and money are just information. … If the price is wrong, the economy is not functioning properly.
Musk said the high concentration of carbon in the atmosphere and the environment is, economically, an “invaluable externality.” An externality occurs when a production result is not properly reflected in the market. In this case, it is a negative externality.
These externalities have disastrous consequences. “Right now, the most vulnerable in our country and the world are already paying the price for continuing to trade as usual,” Gilbert said. “It’s time to put that cost on fuel and remove land leases and other subsidies from the fossil fuel industry,” Gilbert said.
If a price on carbon were to be imposed, the money raised “should be used to address short-term price growth inequalities as we move to clean energy conservation and help communities recover from the effects.” of climate change ”. Let’s help heal, ”said Gilbert.
reduce your personal consumption
“Plant-based diets have a very positive impact on the climate,” Elin Kelsey, author of “Hope Matters,” told CNBC in a telephone conversation in August.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock are responsible for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Cattle are the worst offenders, accounting for 65% of all emissions caused by livestock.
“Whether you’re a flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian, it doesn’t matter, just eating more plants is a great direction,” Kelsey told CNBC.
Taking responsibility for your own carbon footprint can also mean traveling less, says Chris Funk, director of the Climate Hazards Center at UC Santa Barbara and author of the new book “Droughts, Floods, Fires: How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes”. .
“According to the EPA, transportation and power generation are the two biggest sources of US emissions. Driving less, driving a fuel efficient vehicle and flying less are simple ways for everyone to make a difference, ”said Funk.
Start a decarbonization plan at home, Wagner said. Her own trail of greenery at home was detailed by New York Magazine and included everything from new insulation to adding a heat pump on the roof and renovating the home to support it, and has cost $ 100,000. was more than But not all projects are necessarily so complete.
“Many homes can easily switch to an affordable power plan focused on renewable energy, and better insulation and windows make our homes climate smart,” Funk said.
Like voting, Wagner offers a rebuke to 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 is less than a drop in the bucket. Literally: There are about 300,000 drops in a standard American bucket, but you, as an American, have over 300,000,000. You are one in seven billion and you are one in seven billion as a being. human, ”write Wagner and Weitzman.
“So why go green? Because it’s the right thing to do. This is also how we learn the values we need to apply on a larger scale to tackle climate change, ”he writes.
At the same time, your behavior also affects the people around you. “Recycle. Bike to work. Eat less meat. Maybe go all the way and become a vegetarian. Teach your kids to do the same and turn off the water while they brush their teeth. for you.” It’s good for the people around you. That’s what you should do.”
Identify and harness your passion or personal talent
“Do anything – anything,” Wagner told CNBC. “It starts by talking about climate change. It also means doing what you do best. Student, study. Teacher, teach. Writer, write. Entrepreneur, invent, build, ship! Whatever you do best, think about how the climate change data is there, and do it. “
With a little research, you’ll likely find a community of like-minded people, Kelsey said.
“What are your passions? What are you particularly good at… What do you do, even if no one tells you, because you love it so much?” Kelsey told CNBC. “Finding what really motivates you, recognizing it and then losing that voice is the most effective thing to do.… This personalization and recognition of your own emotional landscape, your own passion, is where we do best, because these are the things we do. will continue to do.