03/31/2014 03:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What YOU Can Do About Climate Change : Divest, Invest, Talk and VOTE (DITV)

I'm guessing that you and the average people who glance at the headlines about the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (this is a good recap) are going to react at some level with, "Geez, this is such a BIG problem! And I'm so busy -- there is no way I can really do much at all to solve it." Even if you do all those green things (go vegetarian, drive a Prius, insulate your home, etc.) - and especially if you don't. Heading to the next Starbucks and enjoying that coffee while you can, or an equivalent response will probably be your strongest temptation. Just a guess of mine.

Okay then, go grab that cup of comforting java. But as your neurons light up with the first burst of caffeine, consider this: YOU can do something significant. That's right, you, just you. And it's as simple as this: DITV.


First, Divest dirty energy (ie, fossil fuels) from your portfolio --- whoops, what's that wail I hear? It isn't that simple, and you hate to lose money? No, you won't be losing much on this one - in fact a recent study in Australia, that increasingly hot fossil fuel producer, showed little difference in performance of stock portfolios of those who chose to divest. Fossil fuel investment isn't all it's cracked up to be. And if your broker/money manager/whatever can't figure this one out, it's time to find one that can. A little loss now on your portfolio can translate into a huge win later on, via forestalling further future climate change. If you believe in heaven, think of it as a down payment on a relatively environmental - and economic - future heaven/haven for you and your descendents.

Second, Invest in clean renewable energy, instead of more kids. This is the one that should make you money beyond the energy efficiency investments (more efficient appliances, light bulbs, getting properly insulated, etc.) you've made already. Kids are wonderful (I have one myself) but you're only making their and your future grimmer by producing more in these economically strapped times, rather than investing in creating a cleaner, safer future for the ones you have already, through investing in clean renewable energy. And it requires far less investment.

Putting solar panels on your rooftop (find your options here) is an obvious choice but not the only one. If you pay for energy, then there are clean energy brokers (eg, Ethical Electric, founded by someone who lost a loved one to fossl fuel generated air pollution; Pear Energy) that will, for a few dollars more, make sure that what you pay goes towards buying clean renewable energy for the grid. Then there are the investment opportunities for those with grander assets to use.

Third, get out there and Talk, online and offline, about the three other options with your friends and family. I know, I know, gossip, American idol, the latest sport news, et al all have precedence. But surely you can get acquaintances to open up about how concerned they might be about the extreme weather, and whether their political representatives are doing anything about it? Talk about forming a solar rooftop support group or microgrid in your neighborhood at the next local BBQ? Broach forming local support networks for getting your neighbors who are concerned about their climate future prepped and to the polls in 2014?

That brings us to item four: VOTE. In every election. Really. Because Exxon, BP and the rest of those fossil fuelies who bring all of us that amazing air and water pollution (not to mention extreme weather via climate change) don't want you to. They are literally banking on you not to. It's so much cheaper to buy politicians when nonvoters help them do so.

I shall never forget that poignant moment of honesty when a fossil fuel female executive, clearly anguished because she understood climate change, told me, "Yes, but it's the money - we just can't make as much of it with clean energy!" So poignant - and shortsighted.

Let's not be shortsighted, folks. We CAN save a lot of money now and in the future, for us, our friends and our children, by DITV. It starts with you, just you. Opportunity beckons.