An interesting, and very extensive (whew), thread about climate change occurred in a quite large, science-related Facebook group of which I am a part, and I promised the group that I’d sum up the results. What made the thread interesting? A grandmother wondered about how she can protect her kids and grandkids from climate change-caused upheaval, and the variety of answers was incredible.
Many questions were raised in this thread. Are there immediate actions to at least minimize the danger of climate change? What will yield long-term survival for families? What is needed to protect populations in general?
Over a period of two days, 196 contributors/commenters posted 200+ responses with 93 different recommendations. The responses were all over the place: pointed, broad, vague, specific, original, repetitive, etc. I contributed to the thread with just three items, which I’ll highlight below. But first, some background about the contributors:
- Most contributed ideas appear to be from and for the U.S. middle class, but that is just my impression from the discussion. I did not look up people’s backgrounds. As my own blog focuses on U.S. Climate Steps – the middle class approach is appropriate since, except for those richer than us, who do cause a hell of a lot of atmospheric carbon, we cause most of the global C02 pollution compared to other countries. (Somehow I doubt the very rich are going to read my blog post.)
- From the names and photos of contributors, the contributors seemed mostly white Americans, but there was some diversity, and some others outside the U.S commented. I have not run the numbers though.
- Fyi, this group has voted to remain secret: some don’t want to be trolled, and some work for the government and do not want to jeopardize their jobs. Thus, I do not provide a link to the original thread, but where I have suggestions that I wanted to keep in quotations, I asked permission of those specific people whether I could give them full credit (one is currently still just identified by first name only). If you were part of the original thread, and want to get credit for a specific idea that’s not in quotes, please send me a message and I’ll look into whether or not the idea was shared, etc. I’ll try to give credit where possible.
So on to the various suggestions. I do not argue for or against most of these, and, within a topic, they are not in any priority order. It is a list. I do present points and counter points made by the commenters (okay, I did add one or two, as noted, but they are just considerations, not a judgement.)
Here we go: How to save the world and your family.
You know how there used to be that phrase “only you can prevent forest fires?” People have also been saying that about climate change up until this last year. In this thread, not one person ever said that we can “prevent climate change.” Sad that everyone knows that now.
In order to protect our children, grandchildren, the wildlife, plants, and the entire set of oxygen-creating ecosystems, we need to minimize how much climate change occurs, as well as mitigate its impacts. Mitigation, btw, is defined as causing something to become less harsh, hostile, severe, or painful. I like thinking about the term minimization first, which applies more towards reducing the actual climate change itself – and then we should also mitigate its multiple harsh, hostile, severe, omigod-we’re-going-to-suffer impacts.
I’ve split up the suggestions into four groups: personal behavior, changing the culture, politics, and economics/business. After these four groups of minimization/mitigation is then a section on survival.
Well, this was a heated debate in the group (pun unintended). Some people say individual action won’t make a difference and only collective action will, while others say, why yes, we can make a difference and should. I fall into the latter camp, and will explain why in another blog post, but in the meantime here’s a thought: individual choices directly influence consumption, which influences not only C02 outputs but industrial behavior, which influences politicians (I’ll be discussing the study that shows U.S. politicians listen to industry more than voters). And, critically, its hard to build collective action when you aren’t showing that you are already doing your part. So everything helps, but in any good strategic plan, priorities are needed too.
The numbers represent how many times these solutions were suggested in the thread; CP stands for “Counterpoint;” CCP for “Counter Counterpoint,” etc…
Decrease Carbon Footprint – Nine folks referred to minimizing one’s carbon footprint in general (9), but did not give details. Some others made more specific suggestions:
Clean energy (6)
- Solar panels (11), then an additional two specific recommendations: check out a) Solar City and b) https://www.solarenergyworld.com/.
- Buy clean power, such as Arcadia Power. (2)
- Renewable heating (2); install geothermal heat pump. (2)
- Utilize hybrids or electric cars (7) – [I added the word utilize, because you now can utilize hybrid or electric taxis as well.]
- Don’t buy a new car (1). CP: There does come a point…, especially as air pollution is critical; where it helps more to buy a car, especially as most components recyclable. (1)
- Walk/bike more (5); electric bikes. (1)
- Drive less (3); carpool. (1); public transportation. (1)
- Don’t fly. (1)
- Reduce: produce less waste, lower consumption to 1950s. (7)
- stop using disposable containers. (1)
- wash clothes less. (1)
- buy a smaller house. (1)
- lose half the appliances. (1)
- less retail. (2)
- Recycle (3); reuse (2), e.g., buy used clothes; Habitat for Humanity (2); St. Vincent de Paul (1); consignment shops. (1)
- Tankless water heater. (1)
- Insulate one’s house. (3)
- CFC bulbs; LED bulbs. (2)
- Ease up on the HVAC use. (2)
- Build environmentally friendly houses. (1)
Plants and Animals:
- Go vegetarian (11); go vegan (6); cut back on meat. (9)
- some folks countered against a wholly vegetarian diet, saying it isn’t healthy. (2)
- responses: vegetarian for 10 years (1), vegetarian for 25 years (1 – that happens to be me); avoid factory farmed meat. (1)
- Gardening, grow your own food. (3)
- Buy local groceries, etc. (10), less importing. (1)
- Don’t waste food. (1)
- Buy in season. (1)
- Buy land and leave it to grow C02-absorbing plants. (2)
- Plant trees. (5)
- Maintain forested land. (1)
- Rethink cats and dogs (1); lab grown meat. (1) CP to the latter: takes resources as well. (me)
This also was controversial. Don’t have kids or have fewer less kids (7); adopt (2). The points and CPs made in the thread included:
- CP: This is not quite the immediate impact needed, but will make a huge difference down the road (me)
- CP: Can be off-putting if “tell people not to have children.” (2)
- CP: concern raised that if environmentalists don’t have children, that leaves the planet in the hands of those who are not like minded (1). CCP: questionable about population dynamics, and whether not ‘breeding’ will make an impact in time physically and culturally anyway. (1)
- CP: Don’t revoke autonomy or human rights. (1) See Resources at the end. Instead:
- Educate – can help decrease population numbers. (2)
- Empower women. (1)
- Provide greater access to health care. (1)
- Support informed decisions. (1)
- If you have kids, choose not to use disposable things everywhere. (1) CP: that then has to be applied to the teenager kid, and then the adult, once grown, as well. (me)
Other “live sustainably” actions (3 general statements)
- Use less water. (2)
- Fight air pollution. (1)
- Go organic (3); keep in mind local benefits can outweigh organic, and vice versa (3); 2) – fyi, gmo’s (1) is a very different topic than organic., so not listed here. Resource below.
- Compost – [me: composting at home saves carbon from transport; but pick up compost does have a carbon footprint. Still the compost winds up back where growing plants can use it.]
- Pick up trash. (1)
Finally: Get a loan from a local non-profit to help with changes. (1)
Change the Culture
Public/adult education (9)
- Support educational talks, forums on climate change. (1)
- Write letters to the editor. (1)
- Although hard, talk to friends, family. (5)
- Avoid being too abstract: provide details on local impacts, local steps, current actions. (1)
- Encourage others to decrease carbon footprint. (1)
- Use yourself as an example: storm proof your house, show off the garden; ask real estate agents and city planners about flooding…(me); market your changes through social media! (1) Get a thousand friends to do the same. (1)
Educate kids (1) to do the following:
- Go to town halls. (1)
- Learn about the issues: Climate Change Camp (Earth Charter Indiana.) (1)
- Talk to friends. (1)
- Vote. (1)
- Learn that politics isn’t a dirty word. (1)
- Not have kids. (1). CP: We can’t wait for the kids to grow up; so don’t rely on this – we need other action now as well. (me)
Fight against curriculum changes (2); ask what kids are being taught right now (1). This will impact kids, but also adults at schools.
Educate yourself. (7)
Build a community of trust. (1);
- Find like-minded souls (especially for kids.) (1)
- Support science. (1)
Pressure your legislators to: (10) – (the below starts to sound like the 12 step AA process.)
- Acknowledge climate change. (1)
- Acknowledge humans Behind climate change. (1)
- Remind them they’ll deal with the problems afterwards. (1)
- Support clean energy (3); supporting strong resilient infrastructure. (1)
- Minimize subsidies for fossil fuel industry. (2)
- Aggressively pursue legislation that curtails gases and other pollutants (3); support carbon tax. (1)
- Support progressive regulation on industrial polluters. (1)
- Support public health/disease control initiatives (“hey, health care!”) (1)
- Mitigate (1)
- Support science. (3)
- Impeach [you-know-who].
Be “politically active.” (15)
- Vote in every election, every scale re: climate change. (31)
- Organize locally (7) to push town and state towards renewables, resilience, transition, bike lanes, public transport. (1)
- Speak out in civil forums (3), esp. re: construction, transit, energy. (1)
- Encourage others to vote (1); remind friends, family to vote. (2)
- Run for office. (1)
- Volunteer for election campaigning. (2);
- Donate to political groups re: climate change (1)
- Connect with/join an environmental activist group (3): local to national (climate change is all intertwined across topics so “find your passion”). Connect/join local groups (such as Mothers out Front, Green Neighbors DC.) (3)
- CP: voting and helping NGOs doesn’t always help, have to do more. (1)
- CCP: some groups very good: Citizen Climate Lobby (non-partisan, support for carbon tax); Nature Conservancy. (2)
- Create advocacy groups and events.
- Participate in community efforts where can share/broadcast message: group walks, cycling, clean-ups. (2)
- Protest (2); but CP: a single event is not enough. (1)
- Do work at local v. large scale – different scales can have different impacts. (1)
- Support government staff/officials, as these folks may be on your side. (1) (me: I used to work for the federal government – and everyone was amazingly dedicated.)
- Input comments regarding regulations online; this can have a major impact in the court cases. (1; me)
- Pitchforks. (2)
- Spend money in a way that influences corporations to think responsibly. (4)
- Divest your 401k from general portfolios that can have fossil fuel investments, and instead move investments to green/social portfolios, such as TIAA’s Social Choice. (1)
- Invest directly in clean energy, etc. (1)
- Consider new economic approaches, as capitalist societies won’t survive. (2)
- Invest in underwater housing (1; joke)
As my friend Cindy has said, if we stop climate change tomorrow, we’ll still have to deal with temperature warming for years/decades/centuries to come. How do we save our children, nephews, family, communities, and frankly, the human race?
Survival/Adaptation at the Family Level – in other words, preparing to give your family the best chance.
“Help my family adapt” involved a lot of homesteading and survival “prepping” plans, as well as locations to move to. (35)
To move or not: Many discussed the point that global climate change will affect the entire globe. There is no place that will be unaffected, and better to “solve the problem, than run from it.” But some pointed out that some places will be less affected due to more natural resources (such as groundwater), and others more because of too many natural resources (such as seawater.) So here are some ideas for preparation/adaptation.
- Adapt locally. (1)
- CP: Please move if in harm’s way; if coastal, sell and move. (3)
- CCP: even if harm’s way stay and work locally; brings pressure. (1)
- CCCP: there are some places that will undoubtedly be underwater. Bigger bill later if folks don’t plan and are forced to move. Need communities to plan long-term now (not just raising houses 3 feet.) (2)
- Move where water supplies more stable (not polluted with fracking waste, have the potential to be inundated with seawater, dependent on snowpacks.) (1)
- Live higher elevation (8) – preparing has already helped prevent flooding for two commenters.
- obviously avoid South Florida. (1)
- avoid living in big cities – there will be impact. (1)
- move north. (3): north Dakota, Canada (2); Siberian coast (1); coastal Great Lakes (1), new England (1) (last two have waterbody-influenced local climates, which would mitigate hot temperatures, and provide water not dependent on snow pack); Michigan (1); Alaska (2); UK, Michigan, Russia. (1) See also Resources below.
- CP: AK, Russia, Canada within range of N. Korean missiles, and will change greatly due to warming climate. (1)
- move northwest (2): Oregon, Washington, southern BC. (comment based on climate change model, but ref not given.)
- CP: earthquake likely. (3)
- Find a walkable community near agriculture;
Short-term preparation for emergencies. As others said, it helps you feel that you are doing everything in your power, and helps keep you from succumbing to fear.
- Have a plan. (3)
- Make sure have a store close by. (1)
- Storm proof house. (1)
- Buy flood insurance. (1)
- Stock up on Deet. (1)
- Stock up on guns (1 – joke); guns. (not joke; 1)
- Hoard water. (3)
- Radios, etc. (1)
- Also leisure for the kids. (1)
Homestead and Survival “Prepping”
- Going solar. (3)
- Learn homesteading skills; teach kids bartering. (3)
- Saving seeds is long-term survival. (2); store food, seeds, (3); seeds future currency;
- Learn how to stock food through the winter. (1)
- Gardening (9; raising rabbits, chickens, orchards); water collection (2)); keep bees (1). Aquaculture/aquaponic. (2)
- Independent sewage solution. (1)
- Independent energy source (2); see more info below.
- Learn to purify water. (1)
- Get a ground-water well with pump or manual. “The pressurization of water from a pump will help with sanitation.” (1)
- Get automated farming tools. (1) CP: electricity dependent. (me)
- Google “Preppers”/”bunker.” (5)
- Examine your family’s strengths and vulnerabilities; a strength may include an extended family network? (1)
Other details by Julie Iaccarino, Permission given to share in quotes.
- “Partial subterranean home; At about thirty feet below soil level, you’re looking at a relatively stable and constant temperature around 60F. (Ex: Seattle it’s around 53F). In addition, this provides a lot of security from hail, gale force winds, inclement weather, and more. This isn’t a DIY project and will likely take a contractor. Depths of up to 10-20 feet will have the same temperature effect, but be cheaper to accomplish.”
- “Stock up on a small metalshop’s worth of tools, raw materials, and likely a 3D printer to replace parts that wear down or break over time.”
- “Independent energy sources: A lot of this is location specific. Solar panels won’t work well in places like Washington, where the winters are often cloudy. The ROI is extremely low. Wind takes a lot of maintenance, especially in unpredictable weather. Gravity-fed pressurized water turbines are pretty efficient, and can be made yourself. (Example: http://hackaday.com/2010/08/27/hydropower-generator/ ). Biomass generators or geothermal power are also possible, given earth has already been excavated for the shelter above. There has also been talk of personal nuclear reactors (https://www.treehugger.com/…/portable-backyard-nuclear… ) which look like fake news to me, but there’s also hydrogen fuel cell stacks if you can reliable produce hydrogen gas ( http://www.fuelcellstore.com/…/high-power-fuel-cell-stacks ). Ultimately, you’ll want to have one or two primary power sources, a large battery bank that’s 240% of your projected power needs (because night time cycle and emergencies, as well as overhead). For power cell technology, you’ll likely want to stick with lead-acid batteries as w/kg isn’t really important. If you want to get fancy and have the money, LiFePO4 battery stacks will last longer and be more efficient. Last, you’ll want to have at least one emergency diesel generator, especially if you need to repair any of your primary power systems.”
Survival/Adaptation – the Human Race
- Get to Mars. (1)
- Build a time machine. (1) CP: But could cause a carbon footprint if there is an alternative timeline – (via JL).
- Build community (8); share resources (3) make everyone safe (1), support each other emotionally. (1) Save those seeds, but share them with your neighbor. (2)
- “Think about your gifts and what you will have to offer in times of crisis.” (via Angie McAllister)
- Be kind, compassionate, and caring. (1)
Survival/Adaptation – Other Species
Helping other species adapt, sadly, was only mentioned twice. But it is something we must consider, if only beceause we’ll depend on ecosystems as we get through this. Plus, I really, really want pollinators around.
- Keep wildlife and nature safe. (1)
- Plant native species. (1)
In a coming blog post, I’ll discuss the issue of individual behavior versus collective action, or point out where others have discussed them. However, I will add that we need as many of the above as possible, as best suits your situation. No one solution is the winner – otherwise we would have solved it by now, wouldn’t we? But most actions must be considered, and then studied to see what works best (e.g, local versus organic – or both). But as we fight the fight, as one person said, “stay positive and focused.” There is no way to keep us going as we attack this otherwise.
I just want to say thank you to all the posters for generating ideas – it was a great set of posts, minus some kindof heated points, but most people were so helpful. (Kudos to Michael H., for instance.). I especially liked the thoughts about working as a community to survive together.
As friends and I build this website – we’ll probably start a page for each of these main categories of climate steps. Stay tuned as we bring in ideas from our readings and from the growing Facebook group Climate Steps. Better yet – contribute more ideas at either site. Help us help others build momentum to affect change for themselves, culturally, politically, economically, and for their families, for the human race, and for other species. Thank you.
Resources Posted as Part of the Thread
- facebook.com/groups/ClimateSteps (ha – that’s us!)
- FB Group Going Greener and Saving some Green (1).
- The 2017 everyone is talking about: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541 (1); graphs interpreting the results (3).
- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378008001003 (reproduction).
- https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/13/climate-change-survivors-guide-global. Not necessarily about how to survive – there’s some of that, more about what is coming up, and how it will affect everyone.
- James Wesley, Rawles Survival in the Coming Collapse series; CP by another: the author is too ready for the collapse, and promotes violence (haven’t read, can’t judge.)
- Independence Days by Sharon Astyk for some helpful hints.
- The Handbook of Survival, Australian book.
- IPCC reports specific to areas of the country will be affected.
- a video that I couldn’t play, so didn’t include.