Hello Everyone! I know I haven’t blogged in an awfully long time, and it’s been an even longer time since I blogged about anything but Star Wars. But it’s a new year (Happy 2019 everyone!) and I’m using that as an excuse to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time…talk about climate change.
Almost everyone has heard of climate change, but very few people are sure of what it is or what it means for us as humans. Most of us are concerned, at least in a vague way, about the melting arctic ice caps (the polar bears, daddy!) and the increasingly horrific wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods that are happening around the globe. But even if you lie awake at night worrying about the state of our world, you may not know what to DO about it.
DISCLAIMER: Look, everybody knows I’m not a scientist. I have no claims to actual expertise on any of the topics I will be discussing in this series. But what I am is a very concerned, involved person who has studied A LOT of research and statements by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Greenpeace International, the Environmental Protection Agency, and many other groups, as well as the work of various climate scientists and activists. Simply put, I read a lot about this stuff. I take their suggestions very seriously. And I want to give you the Cliff’s Notes of what I have learned so that you can feel hopeful instead of hopeless.
Make no mistake–it’s easy to feel hopeless. The latest IPCC report, in particular, gives us as a planet 10-14 years to significantly reduce our carbon emissions to avoid hitting 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels. If we hit 1.5 degrees, 70-90 percent of the world’s coral reefs disappear. Ice-free summers in the arctic happen once a century, which affects water levels across the globe. The weather events we’ve been experiencing–wildfires, floods, etc.–will get much worse. If we hit 1.5 degrees, life as we know it changes drastically. This is a not some nebulous “let’s save the earth for our future,” it’s “let’s save the earth so we don’t end up living in either Waterworld or Mad Max: Fury Road in ten years.” Being Americans won’t save us from the ravages of a warming world. We have no other planet to which we can escape. Climate change is a more pressing threat than just about anything else other than nuclear war–the consequences are just as widespread and irreversible. And they are already in motion, right now, barreling towards us.
But climate change is not inevitable. It can be stopped. We are in the position to stop it, if we just decided it was worth doing. It goes without saying that governments and leaders around the globe must unite and devote every resource possible to getting carbon emissions under control. Climate change must be our number one priority as a species if we want to continue being a species on this planet for longer than 10 more years. However, we cannot wait for governments to save us. We have to take action, too. That’s what this blog series is about–how you, Some Random Person, can actually make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change.
I’ve come up with ten key suggestions for the ten years we have left to halt the warming. To help you remember, they’re in alphabetical order–the ABCs of Regular Joe Climate Action. None of these steps require any special skills or equipment other than time, patience, and a willingness to rethink how things have always been done.
FYI–things that will not be on this list because of the significant amount of investment involved, but things that I would be remiss if I did not mention (due to the fact that they are agreed to be, by far, the most effective things that citizens can do) are:
- give up your car
- give up flying
- become a vegan
- have fewer children (each child you have increases your own carbon footprint by 6x!)
I understand if you can’t or won’t do the above. I personally live in an area without public transit, so #1 is a no (but we did buy a hybrid car). I fly all the time and I am a hopeless carnivore. But I do buy carbon offsets when I fly (more on that later), and I also have instituted Meatless Mondays (and Wednesdays, but that doesn’t sound as cool) at our house. The point is–I’m trying. I am making decisions with the earth in mind. And while each individual decision may seem small, the cumulative effect is large. Remember, the ocean is made up of small drops. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Margaret Mead,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing thing that ever has.”
I want to be a part of that small group, and I hope you do, too. Yes, it will take time to adjust to some of these suggestions…but our planet is worth it, don’t you think? I’ve been thinking about how the world pulled together in WWII when things were rationed. They made do with what they had, and there was a spirit of camaraderie–they were “in this together.” Let’s be like the Victory Gardeners of yesteryear and all pitch in for the common good, okay? Let’s be a part of the Green Army…uniting across our lovely planet and doing whatever it takes to save her.
Thanks for reading! I welcome civilized discourse–dialogue is how we grow. Stay tuned for part one of 10 for 10: the letter A!