There is no serious doubt or debate: anthropogenic (human-effected) activities are driving more hurricanes than ever, more intense killer heat waves than ever in recorded meteorological history, more rising seas, more forest fires, more flooding and more salt water encroachment into formerly pristine, potable groundwater along coastlines.
The debate that annoys me most, to be frank, is the “It doesn’t matter what I do, since the huge consumers of fossil fuel are what matters,” or “My personal sacrifices, like taking cold showers and sweltering without air conditioning, are so unimportant and so miserable that just forget it.”
Stop rationalizing poor logic and selfish behavior. Almost all of us can do far better with relatively little effort. Please scroll through these ideas and choose the ones easiest for you and “Just Do It.” Please. Your children, your grandchildren and future generations deserve our attention and effort now.
Low or no cost (several can pay you in savings):
1. Drive less. Bike, walk, or take mass transit more. Skateboard if you like. Unicycle. Jog. Hell, Parkour.
2. Choose any available clean electricity option from your utility.
3. Sign petitions that call for public policies that will help reduce carbon footprints.
4. Use less electricity, especially if you cannot buy yours from cleanest sources. Buy efficient appliances. Turn off lights when you are not in the room. Replace bulbs with LEDs.
5. Grow a garden.
6. Eat organic. Petro-farming drives climate change. We can do this. The EU has.
7. Be a locavore, that is, eat much more from local sources or relatively close farms. Cut down on energy costs of shipping.
8. Avoid wasting food.
9. Compost instead of paying haulers to cart away your green waste.
10. Become a vegan, or at least a vegetarian, mostly vegan. Cow farts (methane) are actually a major climate wrecker.
11. Get reusable lightweight shopping bags and never use paper or plastic bags again.
12. Write or call your elected officials at all levels about pending policy matters.
13. Stop flying.
14. Car-share as much as feasible.
15. Support legislation that will start building the same sort of high speed trains that are common in Europe and Asia.
16. Buy much less from China or any far-off manufacturer.
17. Buy fewer things new; buy more used.
18. Repair stuff if feasible instead of replacing with new.
19. Vote for peace candidates who promise to vote to downsize the military. The U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuel on Earth.
20. Join a campaign that employs civil resistance to nonviolently pressure for change.
21. Install solar photovoltaic panels or a wind charger to generate your own electricity.
22. Get an electric vehicle.
23. Get a stationary bike that generates electricity.
There. Wasn’t that a fun aspirational thought experiment? I will wager you thought of even more ways that you — you — can be a player in this Existential Game to Save the World. Future generations thank you.
Tom H. Hastings, Ph.D., is coordinator of conflict resolution bachelor degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, senior editor at PeaceVoice and, on occasion, an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.