Let’s face it – I’m not going to be able to define climate change in a 500 word blog post, but that’s not the point. How it is shaping our behavior and our actions? What would our role be as individuals to help with climate change?
What is Climate Change?
If you are reading this post, you most likely know what Climate Change is at this point. But to refresh our memory, let’s look at the causes of climate change. Due to human innovation since the Industrial age, we have been rapidly warming our planet with the use of fossil fuels. This has caused the average temperature of our planet to rise 1° Celsius (2° Fahrenheit) since 1880 (source: Nasa). Don’t let that low number fool you – it’s a huge increase. This seemingly small increase has already lead to issues you have probably heard much about already: increasingly devastating fires across the world, sea levels rising and devastating communities (read: climate refugees), rising acidity in our oceans leading to coral bleaching, loss of biodiversity in rain forests, bird migrations fatally altered, native trees unable to withstand the warming temperatures in northern and southern hemispheres…I could go on.
We hear about the problems every day, and for many of us who do care deeply about the future of our home planet, it feels like too much to handle at once. So I tend to ask myself – what can one person do. What can I do to help with climate change in a way that will make a difference?
What can I do to help with Climate Change?
The answer is nothing. That may be controversial to say, but not to the extent that you think. I’m not saying that there is nothing that one person can do to fulfill their role in combating climate change. I’m saying that individual action is not all you can do, but you also don’t have to do it all.
What do I mean by that? Well, we need individual action, just like we need organizational, societal, and global action. As climate journalist Naomi Cline has said:
“The very idea that we, as atomized individuals, could play a significant part in stabilizing the planet’s climate is objectively nuts.”
Lifestyle changes that we as individuals make, like composting or transitioning to solar in our homes, are wonderful endeavors. However, they are not going to be what drastically moves the needle. That being said, your decision to put solar panels on your home may spark interest in a neighbor, who will then consult you and also eventually decide to use solar panels on their home. Thus, the domino effect continues. But this is a slow process – too slow for our planet’s health. What we need is all levels of society to buy in and do their part.
Enter: Climate Neutral
What about the more powerful individuals, like CEOs and other C-Suite executives? Don’t they have more cache in this fight? Sure, but they need to use that position of power in more ways than one. Meaning, more than just their ability to easily invest in their solar-powered estates, or influence their companies INTERNALLY. We need all of these people in positions of power to band together, and make a unanimous statement in what they believe in.
That’s why organizations like 1% for the Planet and Climate Neutral, where companies donate 1% of their revenue to environmental nonprofits and commit to measuring and offsetting their carbon footprint while reducing the rest (respectively) are a great way to bring together business, large and small, in order to enable a greater impact. Sunski has been a member of 1% for the Planet since day one and is now a proud member of Climate Neutral, and we have already completed our scope 1 and 2 evaluations of our footprint. The places where we have not taken the necessary steps are also identified and in the works, so scope 3, here we come!
Yes, you can do something
All this to say, yes, it is worth doing those individual actions that you take pride in, but that is not all there is. Every level of society is able to do their part, but every level needs to actually start doing their part. The individual is in a unique position to get the ball rolling, but the rest of society needs to get on board too, and individuals can get people to start paying attention. For example, if you are fortunate enough to have purchasing power, buy products that you believe in. Show companies, large and small, that this is what their consumers want, and their decisions will follow the data, and maybe lobbyists, too.
Composting is great, and that can be the one thing you are passionate about, but you also don’t have to be protesting in front of the construction site of a pipeline to show your opposition to the profligation of fossil fuels. Action does not stop with you, it does not even begin with you: what matters is that you take action, whatever that is and wherever your passions lie, as part of a greater whole that needs you. Besides, if individual action didn’t matter, then why would voting be necessary. On that note, don’t forget to register to vote!