Climate change has been a hot topic as of late. We can see the visual of the Global Climate Strike, and the emotional distress demonstrated by large crowds of people. I fully understand this movement to change consumption of fossil fuels, plastic bags usage, using plastic straws, etc. What I don’t see happening right now are suggestions for what we can personally do….. right now. The Global Climate Strike beseeches governmental policy and legislation changes, which are important but will take time. Between now and when those changes will be made there is so much that can be done on a personal level.
There are solar panels, and residential wind turbines for your house. This reduces your consumption of electricity sourced from coal power plants. But what else is there? What if I cannot afford a solar system right now, or a residential wind turbine right now? What if I cannot afford a hybrid or an electric vehicle?
We can use public transit: NM DOT Park & Ride, Atomic City Transit. Public transit reduces the amount of cars on the road, thus reducing the carbon emissions. As a bonus using public transit reduces the wear and tear on your private vehicle. Another bonus is the decreases your risk to be involved in an accident. In the article A New Transit Safety Narrative by Todd Litman, we see that public bus fatalities are 0.11 per Billion Passenger Miles (https://www.nctr.usf.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/JPT17.4_Litman.pdf). It is better for the environment, keeps you safer, and saves you money.
We can use bicycles, and walking as alternative forms of transportation. Using Bicycles and walking as modes of transportation has benefits. It reduces the amount of cars on the road reducing the carbon emissions, as well as reducing the wear and tear on your private vehicle. Another personal bonus is that by riding a bicycle or walking to your destination(s) it increases your activity, decreasing health risk factors. It can be hard to squeeze fitness into your daily routine when working, and taking care of your family, and living life, using a bicycle or walking as transportation gets you the activity you need. And according to the Mayo Clinic increasing your physical activity reduces your stress levels as well as increases your endorphins (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469). It is better for the environment, improves your health and well-being, saves you money.
There are things we can do in our homes. We can lower the temperature on our furnaces in the winter, lower the temperature on water heaters, and increase (or eliminate) temperatures on air conditioners in the summer. We can turn off all non-essential electrical devices in the house. This reduces the gas and electric consumption which is environmentally friendly, and financially friendly to you. Turn your lights off when not in a room, unplug unnecessary things like televisions, etc. It is better for the environment and saves you money.
We do not live in a city with filled buildings and concrete that holds in heat increasing the ambient temperature. We do not live in a city that chokes out the stars with light pollution at night. We do not live in a city suffocating us with carbon emissions. For this movement to mean anything it has to be more than a Facebook campaign, or a protest. We have the power to make changes in our own daily lives. It is nice to see that people are concerned about climate change, I just hope actions continue past the protests and straight into our homes and daily lives. Have you asked “What can I do…. right now?”