Climate Change

What Can I Do?

Are you wondering why there is a newsletter about climate change on Agingwell.News?

I recently completed a boot camp on climate change. Climate change is not a subject that previously captured my attention. Sure, I saved newspapers and bags, walked as often as possible, and was aware of the problem, but wasn’t interested in doing anything more.

My lack of interest was due, in part, to a belief that there was little one person could do. Wasn’t it up to the large corporations and government to make the necessary changes?

However, climate change seems to be in the news more often. In addition to the boot camp, the President just returned from the Global Climate Change Conference in Scotland, Good Morning America, is focusing on global warming this month, as is our local TV channel. So, my curiosity was piqued.

What Are We Talking About?

According to Climate.gov:

Climate change includes global warming and the side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent droughts. Global warming is a symptom of climate change.

When scientists or public leaders talk about global warming, they almost always mean human-caused warming—warming due to the rapid increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from people burning coal, oil, and gas.

Climate change, though, can mean human-caused changes or natural ones, such as ice ages. Besides burning fossil fuels, humans can cause climate change by emitting aerosol pollution [particles emitted by vehicles and factories that burn fossil fuel] into the atmosphere or by transforming the Earth's landscape.

Changes are being implemented - albeit slowly. For example:

New York state is planning over $4 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include raising roads, fixing drainage, and building seawalls because they are concerned about global warming.

The California Climate Action Team (CAT) coordinates statewide climate efforts. The CAT, comprised of 22 state agency members, develops, evaluates, and implements climate change emission reduction strategies according to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

In the latest push by the administration to aggressively combat climate change, President Biden is pledging to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

However, climate has been a concern for years.

Climate and Man is a tome — 1,247 pages — written and published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, subtitled 1941 Yearbook of Agriculture. The work was one in the long-running series the USDA published. They were annual thematic books designed for farmers and those who plan for farming. The yearbooks were produced annually between 1894 and 1992.

The first time I remember hearing about the issue was in 1976 when former vice-president, Al Gore, held the first congressional hearings on climate change and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming.

In 2006 he wrote and starred in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  In this Oscar-winning film, he explained how humans have messed up the planet and he issued an urgent warning on what must be done quickly, to save the earth. Like others, I rejected those concerns.

New research shows that his concerns were well-founded. The recent rise in global temperatures is unlike anything seen on Earth during the past 2,000 years. Scientists at NASA say “Direct observations made on and above Earth’s surface show the planet’s climate is significantly changing. Human activities are the primary driver of those changes.”

So Here We Are

The American Journalist, David Muir, had a compelling news story about life in Zimbabwe - the African country that is suffering from a 5-year drought. He talked to parents who sold their 8 and 9-year-old daughters to get money for food, who fried cactus for dinner because that was all they had to eat, and whose children were dying from lack of food. Could that happen in the United States if we don’t take action?

Maybe

I live in northern California and we have experienced horrific wildfires the past few years. Click here to read the facts. Those facts struck close to home last year when a fire devastated our beloved Big Basin State Park. Take a look at the devastation.

In that fire, a friend lost her home.

We just had our first significant rainfall in about a year. Other people have the opposite problem like those affected by flooding in Louisiana.

As the NRDC (The National Resource Defense Council) says:

Eight degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live, climate experts project that we will be at least eight degrees warmer by 2100 should global emissions continue on their current path.

This small rise will have grave consequences, ones that are already becoming apparent, for every ecosystem and living thing—including us.

Skeptics

There are more than a few skeptics roaming the planet, though.

According to a recent study in the science journal PLOS, people systematically understate their disbelief in human-caused climate change when answering surveys, so skepticism is more prevalent than many realize.

They say climate change is natural and normal, there is no consensus among scientists about climate change, climate change is good for us, and plants and animals can adapt to the changes.  However, those arguments have been disproved as you can read. Click here.

I am no longer a skeptic. The evidence is so strong that I must accept the severity of the issue. It’s true, companies and governments - state, local, and federal must make a bigger impact, but there are things that I can be doing as well.

My Plan

So, after attending the boot camp and doing my research, here is the plan:

  • be more vocal by writing this newsletter for example.

  • be more knowledgeable about the issues by reading articles and listening to the news.

  • buy from environmentally friendly companies and invest in them.

  • vote for candidates who view climate change as a serious problem.

  • participate in Buy Nothing – the project’s mission is to build community by connecting people through hyper-local gifting and reducing the impact on the environment. https://buynothingproject.org/ .

  • walk rather than drive – for both health and environmental reasons.

  • recycle and reuse rather than throw away.

  • use less energy by lowering the heating and AC, switching to LED light bulbs, and energy-efficient electric appliances.

Maybe in these ways, I can make a small difference for the environment as I age well.  Helping to keep it as lovely as the picture below has become part of my purpose.