It’s not up to governments alone —there’s plenty you can do to help fight climate change on a day-to-day basis. It’s our responsibility to future generations, to nature, and to ourselves to take these steps as soon as possible (if you haven’t already).
If you think climate change won’t affect you directly, you’re wrong. Maybe you won’t get to see an extinction-level event in your lifetime (your grandchildren might, though, and they’ll blame you), but you will start seeing more and more problems and your own quality of life could be dramatically reduced over the next few decades. Already we’re seeing record-high temperatures around the world, the ice caps are melting, and fresh water outflow in the oceans (which have a very delicate balance of salt and fresh water) is starting to change the currents. We’ll start experiencing more and more disasters as climate change progresses, and as reported by The New York Times, the situation is more dire than we had previously estimated. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change indicates that we might start seeing dramatic changes to our way of life and a devastating blow to the economy by 2040, much sooner than scientists had thought.
Governments need to step up their game, and we can all put pressure on them to do so. Furthermore, if you're wondering what you can do on an individual level, here are five things you can do in your everyday life. Keep in mind we’re consuming more resources than the earth is able to generate. This is what unsustainability is all about, and it means future generations will be in a lot of trouble. Even if climate change weren’t a problem —which it most assuredly is—, sustainability is still an issue, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t implement these five changes.
1) Be energy-efficient
This means reducing your overall use of electricity. Whenever you do use energy, do it sensibly. Specifically, you should switch off lights when not in use, buy energy-efficient light bulbs, unplug electronics when you don’t need them. When possible, wash clothes in cold water and dry them naturally —and when not possible, turn on the washing machine only when the load is full. Finally, take shorter showers (and perhaps you should also consider showering fewer times a week to let your natural oils do their job). And remember, implementing these changes has the added advantage of saving money!
2) Use renewable energy and avoid fossil fuels
Burning fossil fuels is the leading source of greenhouse emissions, and unfortunately, most of the energy we use today is obtained through this harmful process. Not only that: it also causes urban pollution, which affects our health in all kinds of ways, including an alarming reduction in IQ. So, it’s only sensible to start moving away from fossil-based energy and into renewables instead. Use a bike, walk, or try to carpool to reduce the amount of cars on the streets. If possible, install solar panels in your home. Try to fly less often too —traveling is great, sure, but don’t do it at the planet's expense!
You should also consider investing in renewable energy in order to promote companies to shift more and more towards this path. Look for environmentally friendly suppliers, and support sustainable technologies whenever you can.
3) Reduce consumption
The most effective way to reduce the amount of waste in our planet is to simply stop generating waste in the first place. So, buy just what you need. Don’t waste food and compost your kitchen. Ideally, you should grow your own vegetables, but if not, try at least to buy packaging-free products. Also, get in the habit of making the most of what you’ve got: take care of your clothes, make them last, and mend them whenever you need. In short, buy as little as you can. Consider that the more products of any kind you buy, the more waste there will be. If you’re skeptical about the damage you can cause, just multiply your habits by 7 billion and you’ll get an idea of what’s actually happening in our over-populated world.
4) Be careful about what you throw away
We already suggested buying less. Now, whatever you do buy, make sure you are aware of how to dispose of it. If you buy packaging, check it’s biodegradable. Recycle as much as you can —separate your garbage, reuse materials, and throw away as little as possible. Also, avoid throwing plastic away by minimizing its consumption, since recycling it might not actually be a solution. As urged by Scientific American, eventually we must simply stop using plastic altogether.
5) Mind what you eat
The meat industry is responsible for most of the human-induced animal suffering in the world and for much of the greenhouse emissions today. Regardless of whether we're carnivores or not, we should all strive to eat as less meat as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegan or vegetarian. It simply means you should take greater care of where you obtain your meat, and try not to eat it daily. Support organic farmers, demand responsible suppliers, and let the meat producers know they can’t get away with harming us or other species for profit. Buy local whenever possible, and please don't waste food!
Even if you doubt climate change is exacerbated by humans (which you shouldn’t, since the evidence for this is overwhelming), living sustainably will still yield nothing but good results. Simply put, there’s no good reason not to do it. Whatever your political or economical leanings, it’s time we changed our ways to more reasonable and sensible habits of consumption. If not for other species, if not for future generations, then do it for you and your own health.
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