The IPCC Assessment Report and What You Can Do
Last week we covered the important report dropped by the IPCC, what it is and why it's important. In essence, the panel reports that humankind is "unequivocally" the cause for the spike in global temperature change, and as a species, it's up to us to change our behaviors or there will be even more wildfires, floods, heat waves, and water shortages in the future.
In a related article, Vox explored five different outlooks the IPCC developed. These scenarios or Socioeconomic Pathways vary depending on how serious we all potentially engage in pulling our world back from the brink. You can give it a read here, but basically they range from the most optimistic to the most dire. But, what can we do as an individual to avoid this most dire scenario? This problem is literally a global phenomenon. How can we do something in the face of something so large, especially if some sections of our society insist on dragging their heels on any responsible change?
You'd be surprised how much your single, individual action, when done in concert with millions of other single, individual actions will change the world. Let's explore what we can do to bring about change in our corner of the world.
Choose with your Pocketbook
Sometimes it's hard to realize how much power you have as a consumer. If you're in the market for an item, look at the companies that make them, investigate their environmental legacy, see if they run in synch with what you believe. If they don't, maybe it's time to choose a competitor, one that is more in line with your commitments. Yes, it will take time and energy to look into every purchase, so maybe only focus on the ones that you make more often.
Additionally, one of the BEST ways to combat climate change is to buy local. They call this "closing the loop" and can make significant contributions to slowing down carbon emissions. Basically it comes down to less cars and trucks on the road for delivery or supply chain logistics and less factories or processing plants needed for creation of the item equal less resources used and destroyed in the long run.
Another form of closing the loop is to buy used. Second-hand books, clothes, and many other types of goods tread much more lightly on the environment than newly manufactured items.
Prepare Your Home
Heating and cooling your home the right way is one of the most effective ways to make a difference in the combat against climate change. Let's start with proper insulation. The simple task of adding the unsexy, but super effective plastic sheet over your windows during the colder months makes a huge difference. They can save energy costs closer to home, but also reduce the resources burned at regional energy plants, which are still mostly reliant on fossil fuels. However, in Minnesota, that ratio is changing for the better with every year.
Additionally, an installation of a smart thermostat in your home will better balance your heating and cooling needs and only activate your systems when you're most likely home.
Vote and Get Involved
One of the most important things that individual citizens can do to combat climate change is to support and vote in candidates who understand and are committed to ending the problem of climate change. Do research on your party's platform. Ask candidates what their understanding of the science behind climate change is. Ask them if they understand the conclusions that the IPCC Assessment Report actually drew.
Don't Get Burned Out
Finally, remember that climate change is a huge problem and will not be solved by a single individual action, so it's important not to get bogged down. Climate change is a collective problem and as such, requires collective action. There are limited ways that individual behavior can move the needle, unfortunately. Ultimately, it's our governments that need to make the lion's share of the changes, whether through global emission reduction pacts or enforcement of industry regulations.