By Neil Stawski / ClimateWise
If you’re concerned about climate change (which we all should be), you may not know exactly how to become part of the solution. It’s a daunting problem on a global scale, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that individuals can’t make a difference. Even with problems as large as climate change, activism always begins at home. Here are some frequently asked questions about climate change for the concerned citizen.
Can I eat meat and still reduce my footprint?
When we eat meat, we are in effect responsible for all of the energy needed to raise the livestock. Factory farming is one of the main causes of man-made climate change today. So, can you eat meat and still reduce your footprint?
The answer is nuanced.
Beef production is the biggest offender. Reducing your consumption of red meat like beef and lamb, as well as dairy, will have the greatest impact. While producing chicken and fish does take its toll on the environment, they’re a much more eco-friendly option than red meat.
“Beef is highly inefficient to produce because only 1 percent of the feed cattle consume is converted to calories that people consume from eating beef, according to the research. Poultry convert 11 percent of their feed to human-edible calories. Such poor efficiency means beef uses more land and freshwater and generates more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than any other commonly consumed food,” notes ClimateCentral.org.
What should I do if I can’t afford a hybrid or electric car?
Carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles are a major cause of global warming and many of the effects of climate change. For some, buying a hybrid or electric car is an option. For others, the price tag is prohibitive. Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive, you can reduce your car’s emissions by driving it less. Walk or ride a bike to work or the grocery store when you can. Take the bus or subway when possible. The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to get those feet moving and take advantage of public transportation or carpools.
What are some of the best ways to fight climate change at home?
Activism, plain and simple, is the best thing you can do to combat the negative effects of climate change. Reducing your own carbon footprint is vital, but climate change is such a huge issue that big, sweeping changes must be made at the highest levels. Get involved in an environmental organization and consider spreading your message by volunteering. If there are no organizations already working in your area, start your own grassroots movement!
Beyond that, you should make sure that climate change stays on the minds of our elected officials. Vote, and vote with purpose. Write and call your representatives and let them know how you feel about what they are doing and what they are not doing to combat climate change.
What are some environmental organizations I can support?
Whether you give your money, time, or simply advertise them on social media, environmental organizations around the world are grateful for your support. Here’s a list of organizations to get you started:
- Friends of the Earth
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- WorldWatch Institute
- Environmental Defense Fund
- National Resources Defense Council
- Greenpeace USA
As a citizen concerned about climate change you have more power than you may think. Not only should you do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint in your daily life, but you should also consider getting involved in larger-scale activism that can help to enact change on a national and even international level.
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