8 Meaningful Things You Can Start Doing for the Climate… Today
Should we do nothing or should we do something?
There’s a lot we can ask ourselves about climate change, but in the end, this is the question that really matters in the immediate experience of living our lives. Should we put our very own shoulders to the wheel before us, grinding out, through our own efforts, a transformation of our culture, our economy and, really, life as we know it, or should we lie down before this rising sea of troubles, accept the futility of opposing them, and hope that we somehow survive in what is rapidly becoming a less and less livable world?
I started asking this question because I had become fixated on an essential disconnect that keeps many of us on the sidelines of climate action. On the one hand, awareness of the problem has risen markedly in the last few years and many more Americans want to do something to fix it. On the other hand, most scientists and policy makers have correctly identified the crisis as far bigger than the scope of what one person can do. Both perspectives are valid. But when they collide, the psychological effect on the average citizen is paralysis. “Where is my place in all this?” a person confronted with this dilemma wonders. “What can I possibly do that is meaningful?”
This paralysis is particularly evident here in the United States. For when you dive down into the numbers, America stands out starkly as a place that is profoundly stuck. Presently the United States is, per capita, by far the most prodigious emitter of carbon dioxide among the world’s leading economic powers, with a carbon footprint of around 16 metric tons of CO2 per person per year.
The UN suggests a global target for per capita emissions of a little over 3 tons. India at 1.8 tons of CO2 per person is already there. One could argue that this is only the case because India lacks the industrial infrastructure of more developed nations. But many economic powerhouses show that advanced development and low emissions are not incompatible. France, the UK, and Italy all have per…