I saw this video on youtube the other day, where this massive piece of a glacier crumbles into the ocean. There’s this whole crowd of (I’m assuming) tourists standing there with cameras out, and when the glacier collapses in this massive rush, there’s this really strange cheer that erupts from everyone watching.
Here’s the video, if you want to watch it yourself:
It really got me thinking. It’s actually a really weird thing to cheer for if you think about it, because what we’re looking at is a visible symptom of the devastating effects that human activity has had on the planet.
I realize the sheer power of it is impressive. Awe-inspiring. I mean the sense of scale alone is incredible, and I can sense the electricity of the moment, just watching the video. So in that sense, maybe cheering at such a moment is a distorted response to the vague fear that’s prickling away in the backs of our brains.
Because as humans, it seems so difficult for most of us to adjust our sense of scope to include non-human prosperity and well-being. Which makes sense, unfortunately, because we’re trapped in our own brains forever—and our everyday experiences often do very little to expand our perspectives. Not to mention, there are powerful corporate entities out there that directly profit from our willingness and ability to continue to look the other way. Which means we’re also being actively encouraged to ignore warnings by credible experts thanks to misinterpretations of information (or information that’s just blatantly false), when in reality, our situation is dire.
Still, I don’t want to spend this whole entry focusing on the negative (although it’s difficult), especially when you can spend 4 minutes with everyone’s favorite science guy, who does an incredible job outlining the nature of the crisis and describing the reasons it’s unacceptable to use climate change as a political tool:
I know that once we acknowledge the overwhelming evidence stacked against us, it can be really hard to keep our spirits up. We often feel defeated. Depressed. Hopeless. Like there’s nothing that a single human could do in the face of such a wide reaching global catastrophe that’s been hundreds of years in the making (and is fueled by our very way of life in developed/developing nations, is tied to our notions of progress, is seen as a “necessary sacrifice” on the road to success. . .)
But that attitude is toxic. It leads to inaction and frustration. It shuts down lines of dialogue that are crucial to a positive, united human response, so I thought I’d take a moment to shed some light on some of the smaller things we might be able to accomplish in our daily lives that help reduce our own individual contributions to climate change.
4 Ways You Can Help Reduce Global Warming
- Reduce meat in your diet. Ideally, if you’re concerned about the environment, you’ll avoid meat at all costs, as, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, “the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are climate change worldwide” (which is way more than transportation contributes, FYI). Meat-eating is not a sustainable diet. It’s that simple.
- Embracing renewable energy. This can be pursued in a wide range of ways, from donating to the wind power initiative in your immediate community to having solar panels installed in your home or business courtesy of a licensed installer (a growing field with already established specialists like those at salinassolarinstallation.com). Do what you can to throw your voice behind the movement for greener energy.
- Reduce consumption. In the US, on average, each one of us produces 4.5 lbs of garbage/day (which has doubled in 30 years, BTW) and 99 percent of the raw materials we harvest to produce consumable goods are trashed less than 6 months after extraction. That means we’re tearing up raw materials (and doing terrible things to our environment) just so we can sell goods that will be thrown away before the end of the year. Buy less. Of everything.
- Reduce travel or travel smarter. In many places it can be difficult to thrive without access to a car to get you where you need to go (groceries, work, school, you name it), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t examine our driving habits to make sure we’re being as efficiently as possible, which means: DON’T drive if you don’t need to, carpool if you can, and plan your trips as efficiently as possible. Self-driving cars are the absolute best candidate for a partial solution here, as fewer and fewer individuals will need to purchase individual vehicles rather than sharing a self-driving car with other users.
Ultimately, I’m afraid I have to leave you with a massive disclaimer. I love the idea that we can REDUCE our own negative contribution to climate change (and the actions on this list really DO have significant impacts on our footprint). But I HATE the idea that this is the most effective way to fight against climate change, because the biggest negative contributions to this problem won’t be addressed by individuals sorting their recycling, or reusing water bottles or taking slightly colder showers.
The only real, long-term hope we have is if we address the rampant environmental abuse committed by unchecked corporations that have relatively free reign when it comes to creating the legislation that determines how “legal” it is for them to ravage the environment in America, sure, but even more so in the developing countries that American and international corporations exploit and abuse for their own financial gains, revealing morally corrupt business practices at their core. So it’s good to get mad. Because widespread environmental devastation is just one of the many debilitating consequences greeting any nation that grants rights to its corporations that aren’t granted to the human beings who live there. Go figure.
Anyone interested in more information on the topic should check out this great video, The Story of Stuff: