Okay, I’m back, after marching, renovating my house to get it refinanced, then refinancing (thus divesting of Wells Fargo, a major pipeline investor), meeting a work deadline, growing the Facebook “Climate Steps” group, cleaning the kitchen, sleeping in between all of this (coincidentally, saving energy), and getting a roommate (also energy saving for the planet.)
Now back to writing about climate action.
Through our FB group Climate Steps and many other websites, I have been reading about people who have been taking great actions towards climate change, e.g.: starting solar investment banks (https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2017/04/meet-the-woman-who-has-helped-thousands-go-solar/), writing letters to Congressmen, and setting up virtual meetings instead of flying (yay to the Rogers on FB.)
But I’ve also been coming across more public-relation-style posts, often from non-governmental organizations, that are really vague, which I find frustrating.
Examples: “I resolve to:
- “recycle more.”
- “get more involved in local action, to get involved in volunteering.”
- “get involved with more local municipal governments.”
- “stay united.”
- “use my big mouth.”
- “read full news articles instead of just the headlines.”
(Okay, the last one I love, as totally guilty.)
One FB post was just sent around that said “invest in solar, recycle more, eat less meat, and use less energy.” Come on guys, talk about vague! People have heard these messages before – they need more than that. They need ideas on how to implement – and go beyond.
Some websites are suggesting political actions that many folks are not going to be able to keep up for long, but which are useful while they last. Such as: “my goal is to:
- “To vote in the midterm elections.” (I hope so – as a citizen.)
- “Call my representative every day.” (really? Anbody who can do that has my admiration)
- “Call my representative every week” (more doable)
- “Go to a town meeting with my Congressman.” (better)
Yet – I hate to tell folks – talking to a representative is not enough. Because, well, technically, that is an indirect action – you are trying to get someone else to do this work – and as all have seen, many prefer not to. Some climate-worried folks are now running for state legislatures and Congress, which is absolutely great, fantastic – thank you! For the rest of us, what are specific, direct individual actions we can and should take – instead of relying on others?
Not the vague stuff above. The “use less energy” is really a lame phrase. Duh. How? How much less energy? Doing what? ‘Use less energy’ is an unfulfilled promise.
Instead, start with a resolution to change via discrete tasks, such as I will “use only cold water while washing clothes.” Change to a task that will hit you in the face every time. Aha, now every time you see that little knob in front of the washing machine you will think about this. It is such a little knob too, so easy to change.
Or how about install a set number of ceiling fans, in order to use less AC? Fyi, check this out: http://www.greenmatters.com/living/2017/07/06/Z1LPIo4/home-cool-ac.
There are even more impactful ones in terms of C02 tonnage, or because the actions can be easily spread via social media. One key resource has just been studied and summarized, by, yes, two individuals (we can make a difference!), and its ideas are being, spread via the media/social media. This resource is key because the article ranks the impact that individual actions can have:
As the text says” from the simple to the radical.”
The great part is, that individual actions can be (1) occasional and big, or (2) an important part of the things that you do daily. It doesn’t always mean volunteering to go jump in a freezing river to raise money for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (though that’s a bizarrely fun thing to do.).
https://greenneighborsdc.org/2017/01/29/green-neighbors-survived-the-polar-bear-plunge/ (photo used by permission of Green Neighbors DC, of which I am a member.)
Individual actions can contain everything from hanging laundry to participating in political actions (voting and other actions are very needed), but also social resolutions that help spread the message. And yes – that is definitely the priority right now – actions that can spread the message themselves or that you can share.
- I intend to “bring an LED light bulb to any situation where I would normally bring a bottle of wine.” (via Annika, personal communication.)
- Join community green groups and help the elderly weatherproof their homes. https://www.arlingtonenvironment.org/energy/training/. (Oh, and similar to #2, they hold Energy Master happy hours.)
- A friend of mine’s son and 200+ on a family-related list serve, just started a PAC, “Raising our Future,” to fund politicians who are thinking about families an the future.
- Comment on public regulations at least weekly – this is huge! (more info later.)
- And well, here’s an interesting one: https://www.timeout.com/chicago/blog/endangered-species-condoms-will-be-handed-out-at-lincoln-park-zoo-tonight-070617. Talk about social.
Anyway, the main point is – stop telling yourself you are going to do “this vague thing” and LIST SOME SPECIFICS. As Minnesota’s Climate Generation website says (on which there are a number of resources for teachers and students), you want “S.M.A.R.T Decision-making,” with S.M.A.R.T. standing for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timetable.”
- “Specific :: Can be well defined and clearly understood by anyone who has basic knowledge of the project
- Measurable :: Can know if a goal is obtainable, when it has been achieved an how far away and expected completion date
- Achievable :: Can be achieved within the current environment of your school
- Realistic :: Can be accomplished within the availability of resources, knowledge and time
- Timetable :: Limited by a timeline”
Then prioritize them as to social impact and share your efforts – help make the steps you’ve chosen spread like a wildfire. Coincidentally, join us on the FB Climate Steps Page for ideas and support. 😊 www.facebook.com/groups/climatesteps. Many of the ideas shared here were first posted there.
Then go beyond. Fight the climate fight.
Soon, a discussion of the individual v. the collective approach.
References for the quotes:
http://www.drawdown.org/. This is a new, useful book that’s out. Here’s an interactive that introduces you to it: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/09/climate/drawdown-climate-solutions-quiz.html?smid=fb-share.