If you are worried about climate change, you are not alone. Seventy percent of Americans think climate change is real and support the Paris Agreement. With over 100 countries ratifying the agreement and pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is obvious that people around the world believe in the importance of limiting global warming.
If you are a scientist, or even just a nature lover, you might be finding it hard to resist slamming your laptop shut every time you read the news lately. In these uncertain times, you have good reason to feel frustrated. We cannot be sure of the actions that will be taken by the new administration but recent events do not bode well for the future.
This is why it is time we stop wringing our hands and start taking action. There are a number of ways you can help protect the Earth for future generations (and none of them involve tying yourself to a tree).
1. Voice your concerns.
Do not remain silent. If you are unhappy with the direction that things are moving in, exercise your right to free speech. Call your local elected officials. Make your voice heard at a peaceful protest. There will be a March For Science on Earth Day (April 22) in Washington D.C. and satellite marches across the country in solidarity. Look up the march closest to you, prepare a sign, and make your voice heard.
Express yourself in other ways. Tweet your concerns or write a Facebook post. You can even write an open letter. For motivation, read this open letter about climate change from over 800 science and energy experts and this letter from business leaders pleading for a low-carbon USA.
Support scientists and other experts in the field who know what they are talking about. Do your best to help truth and scientific facts prevail.
2. Be forward thinking and adopt better habits.
Not really a ‘make your voice heard’ kind of person? Not a problem. After all, actions speak louder than words. The key is to be forward thinking — to champion innovation and let go of outdated practices.
For example, you can start taking the necessary financial steps in order to one day own a vehicle that does not rely on fossil fuel (You might even have to — some states are considering requiring all ground transportation run on renewable energy). You can eat less red meat to reduce food emissions, or make improvements to your home so that it is more energy efficient.
If enough people make these kinds of changes, the market will react. Envision the kind of future you want and think about what actions you can take today to make that future a reality.
Remember that fighting climate change is not entirely dependent on Washington. Cities, businesses, and citizens can be the drivers of progress.
3. Vote with your wallet.
Apply forward thinking to the way that you shop. Be aware that every purchase you make has a profound effect, sending a signal to the industry about what you value as a consumer.
Support companies that are reimagining discarded materials and providing responsible alternatives to every day products, especially clothing. The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and is the second largest industrial polluter after oil.
Keep your eyes peeled for companies that donate their sales to environmental groups. After Patagonia donated one hundred percent of Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations, many brands have been inspired to do the same. You can support activists and groups by shopping on these special days.
4. Support worthy organizations.
Think about which issue tugs at your heart the most. Is it creating jobs in renewable energy? Pushing for a tax on carbon pollution? Advocating for climate change refugees? Defending scientists forced into silence?
Decide what matters to you and find the people working tirelessly for the cause. Direct your dollars and/or your time to these groups and organizations. At the very least, retweet them to help spread the word about the work they are doing.
Now is not the time to be passive. Stay active, stay informed, and most importantly stay woke.