No Planet B
Climate change. Global warming. Greenhouse effect. A planetary death snuggie. You’ve heard the tales, you know it’s bad, but often when people hear the most recent depressing news, there is always a variety of responses.
Most likely, you are a climate sympathizer. You know that climate change exists, and you do your best to recycle when you get a chance, but generally you haven’t changed your way of life too much to reduce your carbon footprint. After all, isn’t it the job of policy makers and mad scientists to fix any problem we throw their way?
The trouble with climate change is that we are definitely starting to feel the effects. July was the hottest month ever in recorded history. It is looking like we are going to plow through that 1.5°C (2.7°F) recommendation that climate scientists gave to keep us from serious problems. We are consuming our natural resources faster than ever. Lakes are appearing in Antartica because of the higher temperatures. People are having to literally move entire towns and communities in Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, and now in USA. One community in Alaska has decided to move everyone out now, rather than waiting for Mother Nature to take it’s toll. Not to mention the economic impacts we are already seeing from increased storms. By one estimate, costs from hurricane damage in the US will triple by the end of the century if we don’t do anything. Haven’t seen the effects quite yet? Check out these maps that show the impact of sea level rise on major American cities.
Now that you are sufficiently bummed out, let’s talk about what you can do. Realistically speaking, unless all (or most) of us are willing to give up part of our current lifestyle, things won’t get better even with government intervention.
So what can you do?
First, you can look at the way you eat. Buy local when you can, and reduce your meat and dairy consumption. It’s estimated that the meat industry is responsible for approximately 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. More than that, red meat is probably a carcinogen and processed meat is a carcinogen, anyway! Grow your own food. Drink tap water as opposed to bottled water. Tap is cleaner water and you can put cool stickers on your water bottle. Try to reduce your waste (looking at you, plastic straws) and recycle when you can.
Second, try to reduce the power you use. Use energy efficient appliances and turn them off. Netflix and Amazon Prime offer white noise programs if you really can’t sleep without the noise of a fan. Reduce your electricity usage. Even with rising temperature, try not to run your air conditioner. They create pollution and use tons of electricity. Also, we are set to install 700 million more air conditioners by 2030. Many of these in developing nations that won’t have the resources to use energy efficient air conditioners.
Third, even though your drive into work is more convenient, take public transportation or ride a bike when you can. It’s better for your body, your wallet, and the planet. Fly less often. Don’t blast the A/C in your car.
It’s all very simple. The most important thing to remember is that good ol’ golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. You have the power to contribute to climate change (you probably do). But you also have the power to help out the planet. It’s not just up to the scientists and policy makers, it’s up to you! Only you can prevent climate change!