Climate Corner: What can one person do?￼
Apr 9, 2022
Linda Eve Seth
In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket. — David Suzuki
As our climate changes, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense; sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are impacting food crops, and many animal and plant species are being driven to extinction. It’s hard to imagine what we as individuals can do to resolve a problem of this scale and severity.
The following suggestions, while all valuable and do-able, are simplistic and just scratch the surface of what individuals can do to help the planet.
GO CAR-FREE: This is one of the most effective actions an individual can take. Cars are more polluting compared to other means of transportation like walking, biking, public transportation.
Walk, ride your bike, take a bus, ride-share with neighbors, travel less, combine errands. Try doing them each on just one day each week. Choose more efficient vehicles and, whenever possible, switch to electric vehicles
CHANGE YOUR DIET: After fossil fuels, the food industry — especially the meat and dairy sector — is one of the most important contributors to climate change. The meat industry contributes to global warming in three ways: cows’ burping releases lots of methane, a greenhouse gas. Secondly, we feed them with other potential sources of food, like maize and soy, which makes for a very inefficient process. And they require lots of water, fertilizers that can release greenhouse gases, and plenty of land — increasing amounts of which come from cleared forests, another source of carbon emissions. To make your diet more climate-friendly:
Eat more meat-free meals
Buy organic and local whenever possible
Don’t waste food
Grow your own
You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to make a difference; cut down gradually. By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%?
USE ENERGY WISELY: By becoming more energy-efficient, you pollute less and save money too.
Swap your furnace for a heat pump, which extracts heat from one location and transfers it to another.
Install a programmable thermostat. Let the house remain cooler/warmer when no one is at home.
Swap your gas stove for an electric stove, which actually lowers indoor air pollution.
Unplug energy vampires (computers, printers, TVs, other electronics) when you’re not using them.
Wash clothes in cold water. Hang-dry your clothes when you can and use dryer balls when you can’t (they help fluff and dry your clothes).
Winterize your home to prevent heat from escaping and to keep it cool in the summer without an air conditioner.
Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.
URGE THE GOVERNMENT — SPEAK OUT: Write letters and emails, make phone calls, attend meetings … encourage our legislators and officials to take bold, ambitious climate action now. Voting is important. Keeping action going at governmental levels and national levels to fight climate change is critical.
Join the members of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action in calling on our government to cooperate and encourage more action on climate change with the urgency this crisis requires.
Where climate change is concerned — KIDS COUNT! Young people can write notes asking for more pro-climate actions. Their voices may be especially impactful when heard by local officials like mayors and city council members.
While climate change won’t be solved by one individual’s buying or driving habits alone, these actions are important and can influence others to make changes, too. Studies have demonstrated that when one family makes a conscious, helpful change designed to aid in slowing climate change, others around them will also become motivated to undertake similar changes in their daily habits. By doing some of the things we’ve mentioned here, you and your family can become citizen climate leaders.
Whether you are a farmer in Colombia or a homeowner in West Virginia, climate change will have an impact on your life. Your actions will influence the planet for the coming decades — for better or for worse.
You can take action NOW. You can make a difference NOW.
Until next time, be kind to your Mother Earth.
Linda Eve Seth, SLP, M.Ed. is a mother, grandmother, concerned citizen and member of MOVCA.