Knowing that humanity can still have a significant impact on carbon emissions, and reduce the extent of climate change, what can you or I do? People need to do something to be invested in climate change. Here are some possibilities (not a comprehensive list).
For Almost Zero Time or Money. Talk about climate change! In the United States too many people remain silent. Hold a “house party” or just discuss the problem with friends, family, and neighbors. Tell them how much you are concerned and why you believe that aggressively addressing the issue is essential to us, the next generation, and their children. Let elected officials (national, state, or local) know that you are concerned; write them, send emails, sign responsible online petitions.
For A Bigger Investment of Time. Participate in actions such as climate marches, or organized campaigns to influence public or private officials to take positive steps. Help develop state and local plans to mitigate the effects of climate change. Ask public officials to resist the temptation to spend more money on fossil fuels instead of transitioning to greater conservation and an increased supply of renewable energy. Support efforts to divest cities, towns, universities, and other public and private entities from fossil fuel stocks. Join relevant organizations concerned with climate change and support them financially and/or with your time, such as volunteering to manage or organize events. If you are involved with a business, consider how energy conservation will save money, often with short payback times for any investments made.
Change Your Own Energy Practices. Use more compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs in your home. Set thermostats lower, especially at night or when no one is home. Better insulate your home. Pay for “green energy” either via a provider to the electric grid (e.g., Mass Energy in Massachusetts), by installing solar power, or in other ways.
Learn More About Climate Change. Read news articles by reputable science specialists, IPCC reports, or other credible sources of information. There are many excellent videos online, too. As you learn more, consider the changes that will be necessary in the U.S. and around the world if we are to (a) transition away from fossil fuels in a matter of decades, not centuries, and (b) mitigate changes that we know are coming, such as rising sea levels. Changes need to be significant: cars need to become more fuel-efficient; coal and oil, especially, need to be phased out relatively quickly (burning natural gas also affects climate but may be needed for a longer time); assistance needs to be provided to poor countries facing near-term threats from climate change; more and better international agreements need to be forged; inter-state energy compacts (such as in New England) can be significant; coastal infrastructure needs to be protected from rising sea levels; etc.
No one person or organization can “do it all” but we can all do something significant to help ourselves and others reduce impacts of climate change.