Carbon dioxide, the major driver of global climate change, has reached the 400 parts per million mark, the highest ever. (1)
NASA scientist Dr. Erika Podest shared, “This milestone is a wake up call that our actions in response to climate change need to match the persistent rise in CO2. Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators.” (2)
The bad news can be paralyzing, and can create Climate Change Fatigue: the sense that in the face of overwhelmingly negative news, there is little change we, as individuals, can affect.
David Husemoller, Sustainability Manager at College of Lake County, relates personal environmental responsibility to voting. “We don’t focus on how our one little vote rarely changes any election results, but rather we know that we are participating with the whole body of the voters to make our intentions registered to make a collective impact.”
1) It will hurt, but change your diet.
Car emissions get the most press, but our diet is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases in the environment. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations quoted in Scientific American revealed that meat consumption contributes more carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide than either industry or transportation. (3)
“It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles,” wrote Nathan Fiala. (3)
A Dutch study reported in Slate found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions significantly, and reduce the risk of growing antibiotic resistance. (4)
Reducing meat consumption and buying meat from smaller, organic local farms when possible is a good start. Doing your own research on the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet will do more to persuade you than this article. Be sure to check out the mortality rates of vegans while you're at it.
2) Reduce your use of fossil fuels.