What can one person do? A lot.
Feeling powerless on climate? Depressed about global inaction? Think the problem’s too big for individuals to make a difference?
Think again, because you have superpowers. Around the world, millions of people are digging in and fighting the climate crisis in creative, powerful ways. Here’s how to unleash your inner climate superhero and join them.
Find and radiate positivity. Find some aspect of the climate battle you can get excited about and radiate that positivity in every interaction. Positivity is key to avoiding anger and engaging people around you to be part of the solution.
Activate yourself. Challenge yourself to be as activist as you can, whether that means asking strangers to turn off their idling car, starting hard conversations at work, or joining a protest. There’s activism opportunities everywhere, and every hand on deck counts.
Go deep and experiment. Do a personal climate project. Build a garden. Become an electrician. Invent your own battery chemistry. Listen to podcasts, read, watch videos. You never know what big contribution you can make if you go deep. The ‘experts’ don’t have it all figured out.
Get in front of people. Talk about climate everywhere, tell people what you know and ask them what they think. This may be uncomfortable… no one wants to hear bad news, change their lifestyle, stick their neck out, or ask others to do so. But talking about and acting on climate is cathartic.
Simplify the message. ‘Stop burning stuff’ (SBS) is the simple thing we need to do. Climate science and human society are complex, and you’ll hear lots of debate about transitions and sustainability, but SBS boils it down. If we’re burning it (oil, gas, coal, wood, whatever), we have to quickly stop burning it.
Communicate urgency calmly. We need urgency – this isn’t about 75 years from now. This is about avoiding collapse of the systems that support human life in our own lifetimes. Find a way to communicate this fact in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you or others.
Be an early electrification adopter. Electrify your life as quickly as you can, to get firsthand experience you can share while helping drive down global cost curves to accelerate mass adoption. Maybe start small with e-bikes, e-garden tools and induction cooking, then go big with an EV and heat pumps, solar and battery storage.
Eliminate habitual emissions. Convince yourself and your friends to 1) drive less 2) fly less; 3) buy less beef; 4) buy less fast fashion; 5) buy less plastic 6) buy local. One flight burns more carbon than a year of driving. Beef is the highest GHG emission food. Fast fashion, plastics, and shipping stuff across oceans are all incredibly emissions intensive.
Delay fossil-fueled purchases until… never. Keep driving your current car until the wheels fall off, or until electric cars are more available. Don’t replace a gas car or furnace or stove with a new gas one for any reason. And don’t let friends either – it’s not ‘more efficient,’ it’s just another locked-in decade of burning up the planet.
Hold Power Accountable
Know and debunk greenwashing. Learn how to spot and debunk fossil fuel obfuscation: clean fuels, transition fuels, biofuels, carbon offsets, carbon neutral, net-zero, ESG investing, etc. There’s a new greenwashing concept every day, created by companies and governments to justify continued investment in new fossil infrastructure.
Hold people accountable and show them solutions. Hold people and organizations around you accountable for perpetuating our fossil fuel addiction. And focus on what they can do right now. Show them ways to get involved, whether that’s behavior change, political pressure, activism, philanthropy, investing, volunteering or simply committing more mindshare and money to climate.
Redirect the money. Money is power, and it keeps getting reinvested in fossil fuels. If you can help redirect any money flows (investment, banking and spending decisions), perhaps by influencing institutions or people you know with money and financial power, you can multiply your impact with those dollars.
Breathe and walk in the woods. You need staying power, because you can’t do your best work constantly anxious and exhausted. Marvel at nature and children, that’s why we’re doing this. Make bad jokes. Put down that podcast for a minute and breathe. Sustain yourself so you can have a sustained impact.