Opinion: Individual actions to tackle climate change | Opinion – Traverse City Record Eagle
Most people in the U.S. are “alarmed” or “concerned” about the climate (Yale Climate Connections). Now is the perfect time to take action. Project Drawdown (PD) is “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” It lists the 100 best climate solutions, based on “meticulous research by hundreds of leading scientists and policymakers.”
Here are the top five actions, most relevant to individuals in the U.S.:
1. Love wind turbines and talk about it
Turbines offer our kids a brighter future, so talk them up! When my UK relatives look across the water, they see wind turbines. These turbines are a huge source of pride. Electricity is produced without giving kids asthma, without funding autocrats and endless wars. Every turn of a turbine can power a house for two days and onshore turbines take up so little space that farming, grazing, recreation and conservation can continue simultaneously.
2. Take the plunge- install solar panels
The sun’s light strikes the surface of Earth with an energy that’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total use. This is a huge untapped source of power and Michiganders are harnessing it! Think about where you could put a solar array — on your home, yard, business. If a personal array isn’t in your budget or space is limited, initiate a community array at your church, library or kids’ school.
3. Eat your dinner
Food generates greenhouse gasses (GHG) at every stage of production. Not only does uneaten food squander resources, food waste costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year. It’s estimated that 40% of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away and over 20% of waste in landfills is food. When food degrades in landfills it releases methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a GHG.
4. Eat plants
Our meaty diet is responsible for 20% of GHG emissions due to the destruction of rainforests, space used to grow feed, and emissions (especially methane) from the billions of livestock animals themselves. Happily, with so many meat-free alternatives, transitioning to a plant-rich diet doesn’t take any sacrifice. Try Impossible and Beyond products, have Meatless Mondays, try meat-free recipes, sign up for a CSA and grow your own vegetables!
5. Refrigerants and political advocacy
When Project Drawdown was first published in 2017, managing refrigerants was the top priority. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are thousands of times more potent GHG than carbon dioxide. In 2019, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) started advocating for a nationwide policy to phase out HFCs. CCL also promoted the Best Act, USE IT Act and Climate-ready fisheries Act. In December 2020 all four climate bills were signed into law. The moral: communicate with your members of Congress. Tell them that you want effective federal climate legislation. Go to cclusa.org/white-house for pre-written, editable emails. It takes less than a minute to send four emails to people making decisions. And join CCL at CitizensClimateLobby.org.
About the author: Nicola Philpott, Ph.D., is a volunteer group leader of Grand Traverse Area Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) and state co-coordinator of CCL Michigan. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan. She has a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. She previously worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and has written 18 peer-reviewed scientific publications.