Things to Do
There are many lists of ways to save the environment or fight climate change at your fingertips with internet search, so I'll keep this short.
Every Gram of CO2, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide Counts
People rightly say that we are not going to prevent or reverse enough of climate change by individual, family or small group choices alone. But we cannot get there without better individual choices either, as noted by Politico. If we as individuals cannot take the smallest right steps, like shutting off a parked car or skipping meat at some meals, we will not be gaining the strength to make the larger adjustments, either. The clock runs both ways, although it is presently far overbalanced one way. Every gram put in to the atmosphere will be there until it is removed by photosynthesis or other processes, contributing a tiny fraction to the total problem. Catastrophes occupy a sort of logarithmic scale - we may already be in for a catastrophe of magnitude around, say, 10. But we are perhaps not yet in for a catastrophe of magnitude 100,000. We cannot really know, given the staggering scale and complexity of the Earth's biosphere-atmosphere-ocean systems, what precisely the future holds, so we need to give all possible effort to hitting the brakes.
- According to avaaz.org and many others, the single largest change people can make on an individual basis to reduce climate change is to eat less meat. On this topic, pork uses less resources than beef, and chicken much less. As for fish, according to the textbook for the course noted below, freshwater vegetarian fish which are farmed are the most environmentally friendly sort (such as catfish and tilapia).
- Although plug in electric and hybrid cars still result in most areas in fossil fuels being burned at power stations, power stations are about 3 times more efficient than hydrocarbon-burning vehicle engines at converting fossil fuels to usable energy. I think this figure may account for transmission loss. Even if not, electric vehicles still win, CO2 wise.
- Many people may not know that the proverbial "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is a hierarchy, but a moment's reflection will make it clear how & why this is so. Reduction in materials used will, as a rule, provide larger reductions in environmental costs than reuse of materials, and reuse provides larger reductions in environmental costs than recycling.
- On the topic of 'Reduce/Reuse', it is worth mentioning that cutting expenses functions financially the same as working more, but without the 'working more' part. According to Lao Tzu, "The man who knows when he has enough is rich beyond measure"
- "Energy Star homes tend to reduce mortgage default by 32% after controlling for many factors" - I found this while doing research for a 2013 presentation on The Sustainable Home for an Environmental Science course. I lost the citation/source reference, though. If anyone finds it, let me know so I can include it here ([email protected]).
Politics & Social Change
I am no expert on political action, but I will note that calling your congress-people or senators on the phone is said to be a much stronger tactic than signing digital petitions and sending form emails. You can also call your mayors, state legislators, governors, city council-persons, or whatever-titled persons of influence or power, executives, thought leaders, office holders, or ministers you have in your patch of the globe.
Things Not to Do:
It is not necessary or desirable to pin hopes on as yet unrealized, possibly never to be feasible, technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage or Geoengineering. As noted by Vox.
- Suggestions to help the oceans from Dr. Sylvia Earle's Mission Blue organization
- Arguments for the oceans from Dr. Sylvia Earle's Deep Hope organization
- The foundation of the Vox article above: Rewiring America Handbook for winning the climate fight
- The other foundation of the Vox article: Rewiring America Jobs Report for an electrified future