How busy and lazy people can help tackle climate change
You can take certain actions in seconds, and you don’t even need to get up from your office chair or couch
It’s been too hot where you live. Or too cold. The forests around you are on fire. Or the storms are causing more damage than usual.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world right now. You might be feeling the effects of climate change caused by human activity. The IPCC has released its latest report and it states that we’re not doing enough to prevent a future in which life on Earth as we know it is impossible. If you’re still reading this article, you’re probably panicking, like many other people.
It’s important to understand the world’s current and future climate scenario, yet the way it’s communicated just causes despair and paralysis: “it’s so bad and complex, let’s sit and wait for the end of the world”.
Actually there’s a lot you can do about climate change, and you don’t need to quit your job and become a full-time activist to do it.
- Include climate change in your conversations
Many people are worried about climate change, but surprisingly, few talk about it with friends or family. OK, it’s not a pleasant topic, and you probably don’t want to spend your time with your beloved ones chatting about it. But discussing how humans are making each other’s lives worse by screwing up the environment is an important step to learn key facts and increase the concern about this problem. After all, the more people educate themselves and others about a relevant challenge, the more visibility that challenge will have, and that engages more people in finding a solution. So even if your cousin is a climate denier, be brave in the next family party. Explain to him what’s going on when he complains about the weather. And avoid turning the discussion into a boxing fight if the two of you disagree with each other. Be patient and respectful, and listen to his arguments — this article brings a good suggestion on how to do it.
This might be an even harder, but necessary, conversation to have with children. Kids might get deeply scared of extreme natural events, and ask you why that is happening. Don’t lie to them saying that “everything will be alright” without taking any further action. Be positive and engage them in activities that include them in the solution for the problem, like school recycling programs and community gardening.
If you need to expand your background on climate change to hold a conversation about it, this is a list of good sources about the topic. Several have newsletters or social media pages. You just need to sign up or follow them, and the news will magically come to your inbox or feed.
2. Support organizations working on climate change
Research institutions, NGOs, green and blue startups, big corporations transitioning to more sustainable practices… There’s a large array of organizations engaged in changing the climate game. Help them do so!
You can make a donation to an environmental NGO, invest in environmentally and socially responsible companies, spread the word on social media, and buy from companies who are doing a good job in their sustainability practices. You’ll go shopping anyway, right? So choose better who you’re giving your money to. For example, when you purchase new home appliances, prefer energy-efficient ones. Besides helping the planet by spending less energy (and a company that is also contributing to that), you’ll save cash down the road. Another good move if you can’t live without a car: pick a fuel-efficient one (maybe electric?). And stay tuned: Google Maps soon will make available a functionality that lets you choose the route that emits less CO2.
3. Use your vote well
A lot of the activities that cause strong negative effects on climate, like burning coal to generate electricity, happen because they’re still legal. In the next elections, choose candidates that support progressive climate legislation. And after that, pressure them to approve climate-positive bills and vote against negative ones. If someone asks you to sign a petition to prevent a forest from being cleared or an oil pipeline from being built, sign it! There are also advocacy NGOs like Citizens’ Climate Lobby that help you identify who your representatives are simply by typing your zip code. They also offer pre-filled emails to send to them. You just need to add your name and email address.
None of the examples I’ve mentioned take a long time to be put into practice. Some require a little bit of effort or research, others are just a few clicks away from you. So if you’ve taken a couple of minutes of your time to read this article, why not go a little bit further? Don’t panic about the weather out there, pick your favorite action and do it!
***If you are not that busy or lazy and want more tips about what you can do to tackle climate change, I recommend this article from Emily Atkin.
***Thank you to Anais Reyes from the Climate Museum, who provided the references about talking about climate change, and to Rafael Kaufmann for the kind suggestions of improvement in the text.