Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guest Post: Climate Change: How You Can Make a Difference

[Needless to say, action by the U.S. government on climate change appears doubtful -- for now.  Guest blogger Neil Stawski has some thoughts on what you can do right now.]

Climate change has been on a lot of people’s minds in recent years, and unfortunately it’s not something that will go away anytime soon. With global warming on the rise, it’s becoming clearer that something needs to be done to implement a drastic change. The question is, how do we go about it?  

Photo via Pixabay by Cocoparisienne

Because climate change is a global problem, we do need to start thinking on a global scale. First, however, it’s important to make changes locally and in our own homes. Because humans are the biggest contributors to the problem, we need to find ways to reduce emissions and change our carbon footprints, if for nothing else than for the sake of future generations. The greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere can stay trapped there for years, which means even if we stop contributing to global warming worldwide right now, it will be years before we feel any positive change. 

Fortunately, all is not lost. There are many simple things you can do to make a difference, but it has to start at home. Educate yourself and your family about climate change and get your friends and neighbors involved, too. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions. 

How do I get others involved?

Although just a few people can move mountains, it’s going to take a group effort to make real change where global warming is concerned. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about what they can do to help and offer suggestions. You can even have a fundraiser, complete with t-shirts to be sold or handed out to donors in order to raise awareness. Those who see others wearing these shirts will understand that this is a cause that matters to people and may even ask about the fundraiser.

How can I make changes at home?

One of the first things you can do is change out all your light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs. Replacing those incandescent bulbs is not only better for the environment, it can save you money on your utility bill every year. It’s also a good idea to make sure you turn off those lights as soon as you’re done using them, or use natural light during the day as much as possible.

After that, weatherize your home. Make sure doors and windows have a good seal around them, and, if necessary, provide better insulation in attic spaces, especially before winter hits. Making sure your home is energy efficient could save about 2,000 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere each year.

Use less hot water in the shower and when washing clothes and dishes. This can help significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions your home puts out every day, and--double plus bonus--can also save you money.

If your car is a gas guzzler, or if it’s an older model that doesn’t get the best mileage, consider trading up for a hybrid car or a smaller model. If that’s not in the cards, keep your automobile in good shape and make sure the tires have the right pressure in them. Low tire pressure can eat up your gas because the car is working harder, so have everything checked out when you get an oil change. 

You can also look into taking public transit or carpooling rather than using your own car every day. The more emissions you can reduce, the better it is for the environment.

What can I do to help mitigate the damage?

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen in return, and in doing so they are an integral part of the Earth’s ability to fight off the heat-trapping gas. You can plant some trees of your own, a wonderful way to help since there just aren’t enough of them to stop the damage from getting worse. Engage your neighborhood in getting more trees in the ground, especially in areas of new development. 

Remember, this topic is a very sensitive subject for some, and it can be difficult to understand or suss out the facts due to a large amount of misinformation floating around. Be mindful of that and courteous when it comes to talking about how we can make a difference.

[Mr. Stawski believes an informed, engaged public is the only way to save
the planet. He uses ClimateWise to inspire action.]

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