It case you haven’t gotten on the climate change is real train yet, allow me to tell you what you might not know: climate change is no joke. Amidst the civil turmoil, political unrest, Trump tweets, and rampant injustice that’s plaguing modern-day America, it’s sometimes easy to overlook what might be the most pressing issue of all: climate change. The reality of climate change is terrifying; it’s one of the most unavoidable issues facing the human race today, but many U.S. and global citizens have yet to take an active role in crusading for climate change action. The issue is a beast, and really difficult to wrap your head around — thanks to the magnanimity of the problem, and its political and economic implications, many people feel so paralyzed in the magnitude of its danger that they can’t even deal. Instead, they choose to bury their heads and act like it isn’t happening (lookin’ at you, EPA), or worse — deny its reality altogether. But the data has settled the debate on climate change, and nations across the globe are taking action to try and remedy its devastation — or in the very least, slow it down a bit. Thankfully, there are things you can do right now to fight back against climate change.
Thanks to two centuries’ worth of new pollution from the Industrial Revolution, the earth has been sacked with greenhouse gas emissions that it can’t keep up with. Most of these emissions come from first and second-world countries in the developed world by way of conveniences that we’ve grown up with and gotten used to. Industry, electricity, and transportation make up the majority of the U.S.’s greenhouse emissions, and human activities are responsible for the majority of greenhouse emissions worldwide. The reality is, our earth wasn’t designed to sustain this type of pollution, and as a result, is literally imploding from its effects. But there’s hope! Small reductions can have a great impact in slowing the effects of climate change. Even if it feels like a small contribution, tweaking your routine can send a big message to friends, family, and lawmakers.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not climate change should be one of "your issues," consider this: climate change doesn’t play favorites with its victims. It affects every citizen across the globe in some measure, and leaves individuals in higher-risk areas even more vulnerable. But even if you’re far away from the hotbed of risk, its effects are still not to be undermined. Picture this: thanks to forest fires, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels, that picturesque beach house on the coast you’ve been dreaming of might not even exist in 40 years. As for that dream trip to the rainforest? Thanks to rising temperatures and a change in our bodies’ ability to regulate, significant time spent in a tropical climate could be way too dangerous in the not-so-distant future. And as for those big, gorgeous California redwoods all over Instagram? See ‘em while you can. Thanks to uncontained forest fires and water scarcity in California, they might not be around in 60 years. Whichever way you slice it, climate change has real, pressing consequences. It’s an issue of public health, of preservation, of food scarcity, and of the future of the human race. Here’s how you personally can help fight the effects of climate change, and help crusade for climate change action now.
1. Buy Pastured Meats
Many environmentalists say eating a diet low in C02 (read: mostly plant-based) can dramatically help curb emissions. But if being a vegan doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider buying pastured meats instead of factory farm meats. The pastured farming model is proven to help rejuvenate the land, sequester carbon, harvest solar energy, and stimulate natural fertilization, and adds a dramatically lower amount of emissions to the earth than large scale factory farms. Usually, these animals are grass-grazed, which carries a much lower eco-price tag than feedlot beef and others meats that are fed a corn and soy diet.
2. Eat Foraged Foods
Instead of driving to the supermarket and buying foods packaged in plastic, carrying them out in plastic bags, getting a paper receipt, and driving home again to cook them, consider foraging for food and preparing them yourself. You can usually find delicious greens, nuts, seeds, flowers, and berries in forestlands close to home — many of which don’t even need any prep. Consult Wild Edible for tips on how to get started.
3. Keep It Local
One of the easiest ways to curb your carbon emissions is by eating food that’s grown in your community. Called the "locavore" approach, eating food from a nearby radius cuts down on the gasoline and travel emissions needed to ship non-native food across the country. Whenever possible, opt for locally grown produce and meats, and food from the farmer’s market.
4. Petition For Divestment From Fossil Fuels
One of the easiest ways to speak out against climate change is to lend your voice to the fight. Contact your lawmakers to petition for climate change action, and add your name to petitions calling for divestment in fossil fuels. It never hurts to demonstrate, either: keep an eye on the People’s Climate Change Movement for opportunities to protest throughout the year.
5. Support Brands That Take A Stance On Caring For The Environment
When it comes to doing business equitably, many companies put their money where their mouth is, and make supporting the earth part of their business model. Brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Seventh Generation have a commitment to caring for the environment built into their bottom line, so do your research and make sure the companies you’re supporting are actually good for the world.
6. Switch To Mass Or Alternative Transportation
If you live in a city with reliable mass transportation, swap your car for the subway, train, bus, or a bicycle. Even better, put your legs to use and try walking to your destination. Opt for a train over an airplane whenever possible, and leave car travel for necessary occasions. According to the CE, each liter of auto fuel equals 2.5 kilos of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere … meaning shaving off a little goes a long way.
7. Accelerate Gradually
If you must use a car, lighten up on the lead foot and accelerate gradually. Driving faster uses more fuel, so trim down on emissions by making your gas stretch.
8. Lighten Your Load
On that note, get rid of accessories on the car that you don’t need (a roof rack, a bike rack, etc) and only bring them out when you need them. A lighter car is more aerodynamic, and though the improvements are slight, it still makes for a more efficient use of fuel.
9. Switch To A Hybrid Vehicle
If you’re not about to give up driving, and if you can swing it, switch to a fuel-efficient vehicle. Many auto manufacturers offer hybrid models, so look into a switch if you can finance it.
10. Unplug Your Outlets
Fun fact; plugged-in appliances burn energy even when they aren’t in use. Take care to unplug electronics and appliances before leaving the house each day to keep from wasting energy.
11. Forego A/C If It's Safe To Do So
While it might sound like blasphemy, if summer on the East Coast has taught me anything, it’s that air conditioning is a luxury, and really isn’t necessary. Comfortable? Sure. But a powerful fan turned on at night will usually work just as well, if temperatures aren't dangerously high.