We have just reached 412 parts per million, the highest level of CO2 in the atmosphere in 3 million years. According to the World Economic Forum, our threshold for dangerous global warming may be as soon as 2027-2042.
The Pew Research American Trend Surveys show that 65% of us think the government is doing too little to derail global warming. The survey also shows 90% support extensive tree planting to sequester carbon, 80% support tougher carbon emission standards for power plants, and 70% support tougher fuel standards for cars.
A CBS poll found that 46% of Americans do things to help the environment even if it costs them time and money. But 37% said they would do more but don’t have the time or money.
Collective action that focuses pressure on legislative bodies to enact appropriate responses to our crisis is imperative. Individual action and focus is also required. We can all make a difference in many ways regardless of our spare time or income level.
Actions you can take:
1. Plant trees. Trees are the lungs of our earth. One mature tree can sequester 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year and take up 11,000 gallons of water in a season, then release it back into the air as oxygen and water vapor. An acre of forest can absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that two cars produce and make enough oxygen in a year to supply 18 people. Trees are an important component in reducing the risk of flooding.
2. Use less paper and wood products. In fact, use less of everything.
3. Educate girls. In the book: Drawdown, a panel of 120 scientists, economists, climatologists, and engineers developed a ranking system for the most effective ways to reduce global warming. Educating girls came up at No. 6. The more education a woman has, the fewer and the healthier her children are. Climate resilience also plays a role, as women in low income countries maintain stewardship over soil health, crops, water usage, and trees. Educated women exert stronger land management skills, and are more resilient during climate emergencies.
4. Recycle and up-cycle. Monitor what you buy and what you throw away.
5. Drive less, walk more. Demand that your city become more bike and pedestrian friendly. The biggest causes of CO2 emissions are transportation and energy production. Buy an electric assist bike.
6. Insulate your house. The less fuel oil you use, the less demand there is.
7. Buy local food. It’s cleaner, more nutritious, uses less transportation, less packaging, supports regenerative farming practices, and strengthens local economies.
8. Eat fewer animal products. Worldwide, 77 % of all agricultural land is used either for livestock grazing, or to grow food to feed livestock. According to a Cornell study, if the U.S. used all the grain fed to livestock to feed people, we could feed 800 million people. These agricultural practices are not sustainable, contribute to soil erosion, and are dependent on chemical fertilizers and herbicides that affect health and water.
9. Put your money where your mouth is. If your bank profits from fossil fuel exploration and pipeline development, find a bank whose mission reflects your values. If you are fortunate enough to have investments, be sure it’s a socially responsible portfolio.
10. Share your strategies and ideas with others. Success builds upon itself.
In light of our shortened time frame for changing the current trajectory, any and all actions you can take count.