… and Real Opportunities to Make a Difference
Cooler weather may be on the way, but there’s no denying temperatures are on the rise. The evidence in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report attests to the devastating impacts of climate change – among them, the hottest years on record. The conclusions are clear: climate change is already affecting nearly every part of the planet and human activities are unequivocally the cause. The extreme heat and drought, unprecedented fires, severe storms and flooding we have been experiencing are stark reminders of the critical need to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.
You Can Make a Difference!
The good news is that each of us has the power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit climate change and its impacts and create more resilient communities.
Columbia University Climate School’s Sustainable Living series posts evidence-based articles that give helpful suggestions on ways we can all make a difference.
Here are just a few tips to help us reduce carbon emissions and live a healthier lifestyle excerpted from the article “The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”.
- Eat low on the food chain. This means eating mostly fruits, veggies, grains, and beans. Livestock—meat and dairy—is responsible for 14.5 percent of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from feed production and processing and the methane (25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over 100 years) that beef and sheep belch out.
- Americans discard about 80 pounds of clothing each year, 85 percent of which ends up in landfills. In addition, most fast fashion comes from China and Bangladesh, so shipping it to the U.S. requires the use of fossil fuels. Instead, buy quality clothing that will last. Even better, buy vintage or recycled clothing at consignment shops and reduce the waste created and the needed to manufacture fast fashion.
- Lower your thermostat in winter and raise it in summer. Use less air conditioning in the summer; instead opt for fans, which require less electricity. Plant deciduous trees on the southwest or west side of the house. Trees not only provide shade, they also cool the air through evapotranspiration. Awnings can reduce cooling energy use by 26 percent in hot climates and 33 percent in temperate climates.
- An average car produces about five tons of CO2 each year (although this varies according to the type of car, its fuel efficiency and how it’s driven). Making changes in how you get around can significantly cut your carbon budget.
- And, perhaps most importantly, since the most effective solutions to climate change require governmental action—vote! Become politically active and let your representatives know you want them to take action to phase out fossil fuels use and decarbonize the country as fast as possible.
While our Individual actions will have a big impact, it’s also critical that we support and engage in local and regional community-wide strategies, as well as global initiatives.
And be sure to stay tuned to the global initiatives, such as the Paris Agreement, a global initiative to bring us all to a sustainable future.