As a young boy growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, there was a rhythm to the seasons. Spring would bring rain and gradually warming weather to the midwest, followed by fragrant flowers, and an abundance of insects and plant life. The trees would leaf out, the warmer weather of summer would take over with long, sun drenched days. We would gradually ease into fall, with its spicy scents and colorful foliage, shortening days and piles of leaves to be raked. Then the snow would come, building through the winter months. Snowmen, snow forts and tunnels, sledding, tobogganing and snowball fights would ensue. And then the rhythm of the seasons would continue into Spring. Cadence, pulse, flow.
And the snow would stay throughout the winter months. And in the Spring and Summer the storms would rarely come with gale force winds. And while we did have some hot summer days, 100 degrees would rarely be seen. Hurricanes would not go through the alphabet in the naming process. Wildfires would not consume the forests out West. Climate disruption was not yet fully manifest as it is today.
Climate change. Global warming. Extinction. Pollution. Wildfires. Hurricanes. When I hear any of these words or phrases I can feel my blood pressure elevate slightly and my thoughts darken a shade. And when I think on any of them at length: their implications, the real threat they pose to our survival, I sometimes feel myself getting depressed.
There are people I know who are passing on having children because of the menace of climate change. They don’t want to bring a child into a world with such a daunting dark cloud hanging over the head of humanity. Sad and unnecessary.
Yes, I know there are many current and timely issues we face as a society. The global pandemic has altered our existence. The tangible needs of the unemployed and needy that follows will be upon us and will require substantial actions to address. Racial injustice needs to be reckoned with and followed up with significant systemic changes. But climate change is near the top of issues we face that needs a rapid, global response.
A recent study showed that adults are changing their feelings about climate change. The indifference they once felt has changed to alarm. Data shows that 28% of adults feel very concerned about climate change, up from 2017. They are less likely to doubt the very clear science on this issue – since 2010 the number of those doubtful of climate change fell from 15% to 11% (see below).
With all this, we often feel hopeless. Helpless. Powerless. It is so formidable of a force that to have an impact would take a major coordinated global effort. Not unlike the efforts of the American people during WWII, and the Allied countries. Or how this country picked itself up after the Great Depression. Or how we experienced a nationwide show of unity and cooperation after 9/11. We can do this again. We can work together to help reduce the impacts of climate change if we act with the same determination and spirit that is in our American DNA. And we can all do this starting today. Right now. Without a leadership change. We can do it as individuals.
How? How can we steer this massive ship and get it headed in the right direction? Here are some of the most effective ways we can help change the trajectory of this warming world, and impact the climate in a positive direction. And help restore and heal our natural world.
These suggestions are’t new, they don’t require a significant outlay of money, and they can be done by anyone reading this. Please share these actions with your kids, as they could be the ones to lead the charge!
1. Replace inefficient lightbulbs with LEDs. They use at least 75% less energy as incandescent and last 25 times as long. 2. Turn off lights – it saves $ and energy. 3. Set your thermostat a couple degrees up (AC) or down (heater) depending on the season to reduce energy usage and cost. For each degree adjusted, you can save 3% to 5% – not bad. 4. Walk or bike somewhere you normally drive. A study by the I of T found that a dramatic global increase in biking could reduce transport emissions up to 10% by 2050. And its a healthy habit. Thats a real impact!
I love this one! 5. Plant a tree in your yard. Here are some of the benefits: Trees – clean the air – they are a carbon eating machine, and they give off oxygen, they slow water runoff, prevent soil erosion, help buffer noise pollution, cool your home & street, they are good for your mental health, can save you $ on your energy bill, and they are beautiful!
6. Go Camping. Take a hike. Get outside! There is no better way to connect with nature, and your loved ones, than immersing yourself in the outdoors by camping. Spending time in nature, you realize the great gift God has blessed us with. You also understand why it is worth protecting. One of my upcoming blogs will be on this subject – “This is your brain on nature”.
7. Cut food waste. The US is the global leader in food waste. Americans discard nearly 40 million tons of food a year. Thats about 219 lbs of food per person and 30% to 40% of our total food supply. Gross. Think of all the resources used to grow it. Waste less. Take only what you need. Easy to do.
8. Select slower shipping for online shopping. Delivery trucks have to make more trips when consumers select expedited shipping. It will save lots of gas and reduce CO2.
9. Vote! We need leadership on Climate Change and other environmental issues that doesn’t exist today. Vote and get involved politically. It is our right.
10. Reduce your use of plastic. Plastic is made from oil. It is not a renewable resource. Only 9% of plastic is recycled. 8.8 million tons of plastic winds up in the ocean every year. That is one garbage truckload full of plastic dumped into the ocean every minute throughout the year. Yuck.
Driving a fuel efficient vehicle, recycling paper and plastic, converting to solar energy, investing in green energy stocks, insulating your home’s walls and windows, buying energy star appliances, converting to a high efficient furnace, are all other ways to have an impact.
This is not an extensive list, but these actions, if adopted by all of us, would have a huge impact on climate change and our natural world. Together, our unified power can move mankind in the right direction and help restore the balance of nature.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead