Climate Change: I get it! So what can I do??
(If you want the more advanced materials, scroll down to our curated links below to great fact-based information.)
Climate Change Action 101:
With today’s technology, and very small actions, we can do a lot. Here is what you can do TODAY to reduce your carbon footprint – without big changes to your life. In fact, most of this will save you money!
Adopt these actions in your home, and bring them into your workplace, school, place of worship and other communities. Be an ambassador for our environment. (keep reading…)
*Climate Change 101 – here’s a quick summary
Atmospheric CO2, methane and other greenhouse gas levels are rising as we burn more fossil fuel, increase our agricultural production, and clear forests to gain land or plant high-profit crops like palm oil. Because of this, global temperatures are increasing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more unpredictable and extreme.
What does this mean for us?
- Rising sea levels that are eroding coasts, flooding cities, and threatening drinking water sources with salt water
- Powerful storms that cause flooding and wind damage
- Heat waves and arctic vortexes that harm health and well-being
- Droughts leading to water shortages in drier climates (and now, even not-so-dry climates)
How can we act to slow or halt the damage?
- Insulate your home and seal leaky windows
- Take public transportation or bike instead of driving
- Unplug electronics when they are not in use
- Adjust your thermostat for less heat/cooling
- Use reusable bags and mugs
- Take shorter showers
- Use sunlight to reduce heating costs
- Pull your shades down to block sunlight in the summer
- Eat fewer servings of red meat
- Invest in solar panels
- Turn off your car while idling
What can we do to prevent sea levels from rising even faster?
- Burn fewer fossil fuels – the root cause of climate change
- Conserve energy by increasing insulation, reducing heat
- Drive less: Use public transportation or bikes
- Reuse and Recycle everything you can
- Use energy efficient lighting and appliances
More details on how you can help…keep reading…
Energy Conservation at Home
Residential buildings account for 21% of the nation’s total energy consumption. Yet the ways we heat, light, and maintain our homes are often inefficient and wasteful. We can conserve valuable resources, decrease emissions, and save money by being mindful of how we use energy in our daily lives.
What can we do to reduce energy use?
- Avoid stand-by consumption by unplugging chargers when not in use
- Use power strips to turn off large electronics
- Switch to LED light bulbs
- Switch lights off when leaving a room
- Use passive solar: heat your home in the winter by leaving shades open during the day and closed at night
- Use passive cooling: Close shades during the day in the summer
- Use cold water to wash laundry
- Wash full loads of dishes and let them air dry
- Install Energy Star appliances
- Get rid of your old second fridge
- Get an energy audit of your home or business
- Seal gaps in windows and fix leaks in plumbing
- Use storm windows if you have old windows
- Invest in renewable energy by installing solar panels
- Buy a share in community solar
- Add more insulation to your home
- Install geo-thermal heating
Getting Around and Fuel Efficiency
Transportation accounts for about 30% of total CO2 emissions in the U.S., with about half of those emission produced by cars, SUVs, pick up trucks and other personal vehicles. Driving a car accounts for about half of the average American family’s carbon footprint. Cars sustain our dependence on unclean fuel sources while producing pollutants that decrease air quality and harm health. Airplanes use the most energy in take-off and landing, so flying direct is far more energy-efficient than flying with layovers. If you can’t avoid flying, you can buy offsets to support the development of more renewable energy.
What are the alternatives?
Use public transit for short trips:
- Buses, commuter rail, and the T produce fewer emissions per passenger while decreasing traffic congestion
- Public transit currently saves the U.S. 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline per year
- Switching to public transit can decrease CO2 emissions by 13% and save $12,500 a year for the average Boston family
If you must drive:
- Keep your tires well inflated for better fuel mileage
- Turn off your engine while waiting
- Use less car AC
- Car pool
- Find a ride share bulletin board for longer trips
- Buy a more fuel efficient (or electric) car
Even better, ride a bike:
- Manufacturing a bike produces far fewer emissions than a manufacturing car
- Cycling produces zero pollution
- Bike-share systems makes cycling convenient and affordable.
- Cycling makes you healthier!
Food Glorious Food
Eating what is healthier for the planet is healthier for you as well. Producing red meat is highly energy intensive and creates harmful emissions. In general, animal protein consumes more resources and produces more emissions than plant protein. Food that is transported long distances has hidden carbon costs from transportation, and commercial agriculture uses fertilizers that are harmful to the environment and often people. Wasting food is wasting energy since it takes energy to produce food. Food packaging has high energy costs to produce it and then collect it as trash. Water bottles
What can you do?
- Meatless Mondays – try 1-2 additional meals per week with no animal protein
- Eat less (or no) red meat
- Buy food produced locally
- Find a farmer’s market near you
- Buy food in bulk or with less packaging
- Carry a reusable water bottle or travel coffee cup
- Eat organic food when you can
- Don’t waste food – learn to love your leftovers!
- Donate packaged food that you won’t use to a food bank
Reuse, Recycle, Reduce
Think before you buy, reuse what you can, donate and share, recycle
The average American produces 4 pounds of trash every day. Over 75 percent of this waste is recyclable, yet we currently recycle only 30 percent. Plastics and metals fill space in landfills and decomposing food waste emits greenhouse gases, while more natural resources are consumed to manufacture new products.
Manufacturing products from recycled materials produces fewer emissions while conserving valuable resources. By buying only what we need and recycling what we can, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce.
What actions can we take?
- Purchase paper and products made from post-consumer recycled materials
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging
- Use reusable shopping bags
- Use reusable coffee cups and water bottles
- Use cloth napkins and rags
- Recycle plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and paper products, metal and glass
- Compost organic waste
- Donate rather than throw out what can be used
Everyone has heard about California’s droughts, but as the climate heats up drought is becoming common in many places. Even where water is still plentiful, using water uses energy as it has to be pumped to homes, sometimes heated, and then treated by waste treatment plants. Practice water conservation even if you don’t feel the effects of drought.
- Wash your clothes in cold water
- Install low flush toilets
- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth or scrub your dishes
- Plant indigenous plant species in your yard
- Run your dish or clothes washer with full loads only
- Take shorter showers
- Save water outdoors
- Save water when doing off-grid activities like RV, boating, camping
How does one person’s actions count? Aggregate many people! Use your leverage. Look to see how you can impact policy in the
US and world-wide. Find groups who are making change and join them. Get your friends and colleagues to join you. There is no “them” out there who can save the planet- it’s all of us – together!!
- Support and vote for candidates who want to act on climate change
- Sign and circulate petitions that demand climate change action from lawmakers
- Join an advocacy group
- Start a green team
- Bring along your friends, family, and colleagues
- Help spread good information
- Be an example – “Be the change you want to see.”
Bring Climate Creatives to your office, school or community:
We will bring a stakeholder alignment workshop to you, consult on how you can integrate art and/or sustainability into your organization, or set you up as a Rising Waters Chapter. Contact us at info@ClimateCreatives.com.
Links to some of our favorite resources for information and action:
Solar and other renewable energy:
Terrific graphics show the mix of energy sources that will lead to 100% renewables, state-by-state at The Solutions Project, http://thesolutionsproject.org/
Science, Advocacy, Policy:
Union of Concerned Scientists - http://www.ucsusa.org
o Global warming solutions 101 - http://www.ucsusa.org/our-
o Cooler Smarter web challenge - http://coolersmarter.org/
Reliable, fact-based, climate information from NASA:
NASA climate information: http://climate.nasa.gov/
NASA Climate Effects: https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
Scientific consensus: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
Causes of climate change: http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
Find more articles: http://climate.nasa.gov/news/
Reliable, fact-based, climate information from NOAA:
Climate news, data and teaching materials://www.climate.gov
NOAA Sea level rise mapping tool: https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/slr
The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) host and provide access to one of the most significant archives on earth, with comprehensive oceanic, atmospheric, and geophysical data: https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/
2015 State of the Climate highlights with graphics (brief overview); https://www.climate.gov/news-features/features/2015-state-climate-highlights
Climate data from Climate Central:
Excellent Climate Change Data from scientists and journalists: http://www.climatecentral.org/
Sea level rise information: http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/
Sea level rise mapping tool by Climate Central, a non-profit: http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/maps
Carbon levels and temperature rise used for sea level rise predictions: Rising Waters page (bottom)
UN Sustainable Development Goals & IPCC Report:
The United Nations has set 17 goals as a framework for Sustainable and equitable development: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
Drawdown, book & website edited by Paul Hawken, proposes 100 solutions as a roadmap to act on climate: https://www.drawdown.org/
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, and is the source of the 2018 IPCC Report for 1.5 degrees of warming: https://www.ipcc.ch/
Join an organization that leads action campaigns, marches:
350.org Massachusetts, A Better Future Project:
Mothers Out Front: organizing through a community of mothers:
U.S.Climate Resilience Toolkit: https://toolkit.climate.gov/
Join us to install Rising Tides, ASK or Missing!!!
Email us if you would like to bring a Climate Creatives installation to your company, conference or community today: info@ClimateCreatives.com
Green Construction Standards:
Standards for maximum energy efficiency, net-zero: Passive House Institute US: http://www.phius.org/home-page
LEED building standards by US Green Building Council: http://www.usgbc.org/
Living Building Challenge: https://living-future.org/lbc/
Deeper Dives: Webinars and videos
Sustainability and Security Forum: Excellent Free webinars from thought-leaders on all topics of sustainability: https://ssfonline.org
Earth Protect: A large variety of videos on climate topics is here: https://www.earthprotect.com/
United Nations IPCC Report for 1.5 degrees warming, 2018:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. https://www.ipcc.ch/
Paris Agreement: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php
EU-US Action, COP21, Advocacy:
Transatlantic Climate Bridge: Germans and Americans can be a powerful motor for cooperation on climate and energy policies. The aim of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge is to help Americans and Germans exchange know-how, and to pave the way for joint solutions. Translatlantic Climate bridge is a repeat sponsor of Climate Creatives! http://www.germany.info/climatebridge
Green Streets Initiative: http://gogreenstreets.org/
MAPS: Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary
Today, much of the Arctic Ocean is unprotected under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which allows coastal states to exploit all natural resources within 200 nautical miles or more from their coastlines. The MAPS Treaty has been proposed as an addendum to the UNCLOS that protects all Arctic Ocean waters north of the Arctic Circle. The MAPS Treaty has been translated into all official UN languages, provided to all 193 UN member states, and shared with officials at COP21, COP22, COP23 and UNGA 72. It only takes the signatures of 99 countries for the MAPS Treaty to enter into force. Our goal is to achieve this by the end of 2018. Read more…
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, 2013: