by Melanie Stewart
In last week’s article, I spoke of the threat of climate change. It affects every aspect of our lives, from the weather, our health, our economy, our safety and even our existence on the planet. It’s imperative that we discuss climate change and make changes to prevent future damage, so we can mitigate the effects of damage already done. While it’s important to know the facts and projected effects, it’s a real downer to talk about.
But don’t despair, there’s hope.
The Climate Talks in Paris can lead to real change. The proposed efforts can save energy, tax dollars, make air and water cleaner, and ultimately keep average global temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Many local leaders have pledged to do more than the proposed goals of the conference. The U.S. is helping to lead the discussion.
While these goals will change things for us, they will largely affect how governments, large energy companies, and large energy consumers operate.
That’s great, as that’s where the biggest impact will be most visible. But with more than 7 billion people on the planet, what can individuals do?
First, get educated. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a climatologist to understand. This brief, interactive, FAQ is a great place to start. National Geographic has put together a special issue in sections that include articles, videos, infographics, and — of course — great photos.
Second, don’t ever discount the effect you are having. Everything helps. You may not feel as if turning off your computer monitor does much to help, but when you do that every time you leave your desk, it adds up. The effect is multiplied when many others do the same.
Third, use less energy. You can do this by turning off lights, using energy efficient bulbs or thermostats, adding insulation, plugging leaks, flying less, consolidating trips, using public transportation, carpooling, walking, biking (TravelSmart anyone?), eating locally produced food, growing your own food, eating less meat, and monitoring your buying habits.
Finally, remember that while you are making these changes, not only are you literally saving the world (not bad for a day’s work), you are saving yourself money, saving tax dollars, cleaning the environment, and improving your health and the health of those around you.