9 Most Effective Ways to Fight Against Climate Change

Climate change got you down? Every time a new scientific study comes out, it can be hard not to give into the feeling of dread. While your concerns are certainly warranted, brushing the planet off as a lost cause isn’t exactly a productive approach.

That’s why it’s important to resist the urge to shout “we’re doomed” and actually participate in ways that give Earth and humanity a fighting shot at survival. Though it’s true we should have started taking more serious actions to address climate change decades ago, that’s no excuse not to take some personal responsibility for the problem in the present.

Below are some practical and effective ways of doing your part to help the planet:

1. Talk About Climate Change With Your Friends and Family

Something as simple as talking about the environment shouldn’t be a revolutionary act, but it practically is. Polls show us that 67 percent of Americans speak about global warming “rarely or never” with their loved ones. No wonder the same poll reveals that just 13 percent of Americans realize that over 90 percent of scientists agree climate change is both real and caused by humans.

Considering what a big threat it is to our planet, this is an issue we need to be talking about more. It’s obviously not the most cheerful topic of conversation to have, but pretending it’s not happening will do nothing to save us from this mess.  Let’s not allow each other to “forget” this looming danger – talking about it will hopefully compel others into action sooner than later.

2. Participate in Local Politics

The lack of climate change action at the federal government level is certainly disheartening, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the political system altogether. There are still ways to make headway at the state and local level, particularly since it’s easier to gain access to the city council than, say, the president.

The truth is, while countries aren’t doing the best job of tackling global warming, cities are leading the charge. Since cities usually lean liberal, the elected officials there are more apt to agree to loftier goals and stricter regulations to help save the planet. While it’d be great to have the whole nation shoot for these benchmarks, establishing them in the parts of the country where the most people live and most pollution is generated is also a terrific start.

3. Don’t Eat Meat

Many people go vegetarian/vegan because of ethical concerns over the lives of animals, but there are a growing number who have decided to make the dietary change specifically for the environment. That’s because the meat industry is responsible for about 8 percent of the globe’s current carbon emissions. Scientists say that giving up beef consumption would be a more productive environmental choice than giving up your car.

Raising livestock for slaughter is responsible for 37 percent of methane and 65 percent of all of our nitrous oxide emissions – animals are pretty gassy. Moreover, it takes a lot of land to raise these animals, which requires deforestation. The trees cleared to make room for these animals would have otherwise helped to capture some of that carbon.

If you’re not yet ready to make a permanent commitment to avoiding meat altogether, even lowering the number of carnivorous meals you typically eat in a week will make a contribution. Go green by eating more greens.

4. Change Light Bulbs

How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? Let’s start with just one – namely you! LED light bulbs are mercury-free, last longer, and utilize a lot less energy than the traditional incandescent lights.

Yes, LEDs are more expensive than what you’d normally pay for a light bulb, but consider it a long term investment for your wallet and the planet. If you’re not sure what to look for when making a light bulb purchase, check out this handy guide.

5. Modify Your Modes of Transportation

We can assume that you already know that driving a car is bad for the environment – vehicles account for 20 percent of the U.S.’s carbon emissions. By the same token, we can also assume that you haven’t modified your transportation methods to do anything about that car problem.

Take the bus, hop a train, ride a bicycle, walk to the places closest to you… none of these suggestions are things you haven’t heard before. Still, when you decide to finally commit to addressing climate change on a personal level, these are the kinds of healthy choices you’ll have to make, even if they require sacrificing a little bit of convenience and expediency.

6. Fly Less

Even if you make no other kinds of changes in your transit behavior, just skipping air travel makes the biggest difference. Yes, it’s obviously fun to visit new and exotic places, but if you can confine your travel to places reachable without the assistance of an airplane, you’ll be doing a great favor to the planet.

Airplanes account for more than 5 percent of our carbon emissions. One round trip flight across the country is equal to about 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. Considering that the typical American produces around 19 tons, it doesn’t take many flights to irresponsibly contribute way more than your fair share to the ozone.

7. Divest from Fossil Fuels

In a lot of ways, climate change is a disease brought on by capitalism – we still haven’t taken adequate action against a known threat because there are rich people who stand to make billions of dollars by continuing to pollute. Far be it humans to assert their own right to a habitable planet over the rights of some lucky schmos to make money, right?

So pull your savings from financial institutions that have a lot of their money tied up in fossil fuels. Granted, a lot of us don’t have the kind of investments that would leave a dent in the profits of these companies, but that doesn’t make this critical tactic out of reach for us.

Most people are part of groups that can collectively send a message that we stand opposed to oil, coal and gas interest. Whether you’re a college student, a member of a church or just a community member, you can advocate for the larger group to take the responsible step of pulling out the money.

8. Family Planning

Taking care of the planet gets increasingly more difficult as the population continues to rise. Every additional person uses up that many more resources, and pollutes that much more.

For that reason, it’s important for adults to be deliberate in the number of children (if any) they decide to bring into the world.  Practice safe sex, and consider the environmental impact when you plan your family. Those who live in the most industrialized nations should recognize that their offspring would inevitably generate a lot more carbon emissions than those in developing countries. If you dream of a big family, adoption is a more responsible option than bringing several new lives into the world.

While most people want to steer clear of telling other people how many kids they should have, you can still play a part in reducing the global population without having to force your wills on others. Vote with pro-choice, pro-birth control, pro-sex education positions in mind. Contribute money to organizations that offer free or affordable contraceptives to women at home and abroad.

9. Sign Petitions

A single person’s thoughts on an issue don’t carry very far, but an opinion shared by many can effect real change. That’s why petitions are often so powerful – they give concerned people the chance to collectively speak truth to power and demand accountability.

When you only have a few moments to spare, petitions are a great way to put that pressure on the nation and world’s leaders. Care2 has a page devoted specifically to climate change petitions, so check this link frequently to contribute your signature to some of the world’s most pressing needs.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

97 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 months ago

interestitng

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

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Crystal G
Crystal G3 months ago

i avoid meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish. If I could build my ideal house, it would run only on solar power, with battery storage for 14 days. I still am buying LED bulbs, but because I am kind of unsteady, I haven't been able to put them in my fixtures, which are up on the ceiling. Still Looking for Daylight G25 LED bulbs for my bathroom over the mirror lighting. I usually use paratransit anyway. I can't drive due to my epilepsy. I haven't really flown in my lifetime. I probably will have to fly when I move to Indiana to finish my Bachelor's, but I will be remaining there the rest of my life. Connecticut has gotten too expensive for me to live in anymore. My SS Dollars will go further once I move out of the state.

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Kay M
Kay M3 months ago

i appreciate LED light bulbs, but they usually only last a couple of years. what's up w/that?

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Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

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One Heart i
One Heart inc3 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE4 months ago

I do my little bit

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JT S
JT Smith4 months ago

An aspect that so many people miss is that this planet is becoming ever more dangerously overpopulated with humans. Human breeding (not black, not Jewish, not Muslim, not [fill in the blank with ethnic group(s) of choice], but HUMAN breeding desperately needs to be slowed. It is this overpopulation that ultimately causes all of the major fights over resources (e.g. fuel, potable water, etc). When the original texts of the Bible were written, particularly the bit about "be fruitful and multiply", human population on Earth only counted in the millions. It was just over two centuries ago that humans crossed the 1 billion mark. And the population has more than doubled in the last 50 YEARS. Guess what: you've been Very fruitful and multiplied like rabbits. Now knock it off already!

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