Alexandria Fletcher-Flynn Herr
The sentiment I often hear when I talk with friends about climate change is hopelessness. The recent news that CO2 emissions have hit an all-time high in 2018 and the bleak forecasts of the 1.5-degree report are enough to send anyone into despair. The problem is that hopelessness breeds passivity, which is the opposite of what’s needed in the face of climate change. Individual action can seem daunting in the face of such a mammoth problem, but it does matter, and it doesn’t require you to move off the grid onto a solar farm on the woods. Here are three new year’s resolutions everyone can make for 2019 to help stop climate change.
1. Eat less meat (specifically, beef)
While it’s true that every consumption choice that we make involves some degree of CO2 emissions, meat in general and beef specifically is particularly emissions intensive. Beef results in five times more greenhouse gas emissions than poultry or pork, and eleven times more than non-meat staples like wheat or rice. Studies from Oxford have suggested limiting or eliminating beef or protein from western diets will be key to staying below 1.5 or even 2 degrees of warming. You don’t have to cut out meat completely or all at once; try eating it only three times a week at first, or once a week. Or only cut beef out and keep chicken if you love fried chicken (like I do). Whether you’re vegan or flexitarian, try to keep emissions in mind when you’re making diet decisions in 2019.
2. Talk about climate change with your friends
An important factor in combating climate change is policy, and governments respond to public pressure. One way to build pressure and awareness of climate change is to talk about it with your friends. Recent research by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that only 57% of Americans think that climate change is caused by human activities, and only 36% discuss climate change with friends and family. Nothing will be done about an issue if people don’t care about it or discuss it; a small, easy step everyone can make towards climate action is to educate yourself and the people in your circles about climate change. The next time you see a climate-related piece of news, talk about it with your friends. Subscribe to a climate newsletter (the OCS affiliated magazine, Anthroposphere has one you can subscribe to here ). Share this article.
As much as we try and reduce our individual consumption, we can’t live in an emissions-free society until our major energy and infrastructure systems transition to renewables. Learn about what climate policies are on the agenda in your country or hometown and find politicians that support them. The most effective way individuals can influence this transition is by voting in and supporting candidates for office who make climate change policy a major issue on their agenda.
OCS Media and Research Team
The latest in climate science and policy from the OCS team.