Climate Change – Citizens Must Lead
A majority of Americans believe climate change is real and caused by human activity. Yet Donald Trump has said climate change is a hoax. Our current political climate is a challenge to all environmentalists. Even the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has recently removed references to climate change from their website.
Given this failure by national and state leaders, we as engaged citizens must do what we can to protect our children’s future.
While most of us are aware of the concrete actions recommended to combat climate change, they often feel futile and we rarely commit to all of them. A New Year’s resolution to a new mindset could help us make the necessary shift toward meaningful action.
Make it a priority. While small actions may not provide a deep sense of success, they do add up. We often neglect them because our lives are busy and we feel spread thin. In those moments, it’s crucial to remind ourselves that climate change affects everything. Combating it supports our top priorities – our heath, our children, our wellness. For example, the lake is the priority for FoLW. But climate will profoundly affect the lake, so if we don’t address climate, we’re not doing our job.
Exercise leadership. These every day actions like taking the bus or lowering the thermostat will set an example for our neighbors and officials. Leadership involves action. The best way to make your small actions more meaningful is to amplify them by encouraging others to join you.
Muster your moral courage. In 2011, each American produced more greenhouse gasses than people in any other country except Canada. Our per capita production was nearly three times the world average. While it may be uncomfortable to voice your opinion at times, remember that you do not stand alone. The Paris Agreement that the US approved committed all nations to a common cause in fighting climate change. Americans don’t run from a challenge this big!
Make conscientious choices. Try to consider the full lifecycle of the products you use – including how/ where there made, and what will happen to them once you dispose of them. For example, consider how we clear a snowy sidewalk. A snow blower produces greenhouse gases during its production, distribution, and operation. While shoveling is sometimes hard work – using a snow blower & salt merely transfers work today to future work cleaning up our lakes and atmosphere. If instead we use a shovel to remove packed snow and let the sun evaporate the rest, there would be few hidden costs.
Embrace change. Climate change is like a car speeding towards a cliff–the later we apply the brakes, the harder it will be to stop. We must all begin changing our behaviors now. And, as Mom always said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. For example, eating less meat is a major step for climate. While steak is delicious, consider the benefits for your health and budget. You can use the money to fund your next big adventure!
Involve the children. A warmer world is their future–they deserve to have the knowledge and tools to continue our efforts to combat climate change.
These shifts in mindset involve communication, slowing down, planning ahead, and doing everyday tasks with more skill and thought. It’s tender loving care for our kids, neighbors, wild neighbors, and the environment.