Small changes from all of us can make a big difference in the fight against climate change
America’s daily interactions with energy sources are limited. They range from turning devices on or off, to commuting, to paying utility bills.
The links between these actions and global warming may seem distant.
However, individuals hold many keys to unlocking solutions to climate change – the biggest challenge our species is currently facing – and perhaps this is why the fossil fuel industry is spending Contracts to mislead and mislead the public around it.
I Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University. I have found that the human element is critical to finding innovative, effective and sustainable solutions to climate challenges.
There is a large and growing body of evidence showing that individuals can have a significant impact on climate change in many ways. Citizen’s work It could force utilities to ramp up renewable energy and governments to enact tough climate action laws. When enough people make changes that reduce daily household energy consumptionThis can result in massive emissions reductions. Consumer demand can force companies To monitor climate and environmental sustainability.
These actions are combined can bridge Emission Gap: obvious difference Between projected global greenhouse gas emissions and how much they will decrease in the next few decades to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Climate change outweighs government action
Thirty years of evidence from international climate talks suggests that even when countries commit on paper to cut emissions, They seldom get those cuts. United nations Climate Summit in Glasgow It is the latest example. The researchers found that The pledges of many countries were developed using flawed data.
People are also increasingly talking about geoengineering solutions. The idea is that researchers will Finding ways to manipulate the environment to absorb more carbon pollution. However, some experts argue that geoengineering It can be environmentally catastrophic. Moreover, There is great doubt Technology interventions can ‘pull out’ They are being perfected and expanded soon enough to make a difference.
So if government, technology, or geoengineering aren’t good answers, what are?
The pledges, goals, and targets for the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources are as good as the efforts of utilities and governments to reach them. Citizen participation and action It has proven effective in forcing decision makers to act. sScientists study economic, political and social dynamics Which drove five US municipalities to embrace 100% renewable energy, found that grassroots citizen advocacy was one of the main drivers of change.
according to sierra clubThrough citizen-driven action, more than 180 cities, more than 10 counties and eight US states have pledged to transition to 100% renewable energy. Thus, more than 100 million residents of the United States already live in a community whose goal is 100% renewable energy.
Citizens also took collective action at the polls. For example, in 2019, after New York City voters elected a more climate-conscious city council, The city has enacted an ambitious law to cut emissionsSince then, I have started to implement it.
Spending habits can affect businesses
Companies and utilities are changing their products and production practices Consumers are increasingly demanding to produce environmentally sustainable products and reduce their carbon footprint. Scientists have documented consumer boycott negatively affect wealth The company’s shareholders – which in turn can create pressure on the company to change the response.
Thanks to increased consumer awareness and demand, More than 565 companies have publicly pledged to reduce their carbon emissions. Some of the world’s biggest brands have responded to this pressure with claims that they are already powered by 100% renewable energy, including google browser And An apple.
Google put its global economic power behind climate solutions when it announced in 2019 that it would do so Supporting the growth of renewable energy resources Through solar and wind deals worth $2 billion.
One drawback in consumer demand-driven work is that it is often not clear How to hold these companies accountable?. newly, Two Influencer Investment Experts Suggested By Vox That because about 137 million Americans own stock in publicly traded companies, they can use their collective power as shareholders to make sure the companies survive.
no silver bullet
A large body of research It shows that small changes in everyday behaviors can dramatically reduce energy demand. These steps include Weathering and the use of energy-saving appliances, as well as energy efficiency measures such as lowering the thermostat, washing clothes in cold water and air drying them instead of using the dryer.
Using public transportation, carpooling, cycling or walking Significantly reduces individual and cumulative emissions.
So with most governments not acting fast enough, and many technological and geoengineering solutions remain unproven or come with high risks, emissions reduction targets will not be achieved without incorporating additional strategies.
When millions of ordinary people incorporate climate change into their daily activities, it can make all the difference.
As an environmental expert Bill McKibbin wrote in 2006 On dealing with climate change, “There is no magic bullet, only a silver bullet.”
Tom Ptak is an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Texas State University.