7 Concrete Ways You Can Help Slow Climate Change, Because Time Is Running Out

by Seth Millstein
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A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained some bleak news for humanity: By 2030, global temperatures will be 1.5 degrees celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods, and food shortages by the year 2030. If that strikes you as alarming, here are some concrete ways you can help slow climate change in your day to day life.

Unfortunately, the IPCC's report is even more ominous than may look at a first glance. Although a 1.5 degree celsius increase in global temperatures would be catastrophic, it's also something of a best-case scenario. Global net carbon dioxide emissions would have to reach net zero in 2050 in order to avoid an even bigger increase in global temperatures.

"This is concerning because we know there are so many more problems if we exceed 1.5 degrees C global warming, including more heatwaves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes," said Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, in a statement. He added that "The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal."

Although reversing this trajectory will require large-scale efforts on the part of governments and corporations, there are also things that everyday folks can do to help stem the damage.

Change Your Diet

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The IPCC's report suggests that people should reduce their consumption of animal products by 30 percent. That's no surprise: An April study published in Environmental Research Letters found that human consumption meat, dairy, egg, and seafood account for 83.5 percent of food-based greenhouse emissions, while livestock alone is responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse emissions — more direct emissions from the entire transportation industry, according to CNN.

Ditch Your Car

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It's no secret that cars are a significant contributor to global warming. Although your mileage may vary, so to speak, depending on what kind of automobile you drive, even electric cars are bad for the environment, so if you'd like to reduce your carbon footprint, consider scrapping your car and getting a bike instead.

Use The Train Or Bus For Long-Distance Trips

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Cars aren't the only vehicles destroying the environment: More than 11 percent of all transportation-related greenhouse emissions in the U.S. come from planes, according to the New York Times. To combat this, the IPCC recommends alternative forms of transportation for longer trips, such as trains or buses. According to National Geographic, traveling across the U.S. in a train produces half the carbon dioxide as the same trip would by plane.

Vote For Candidates Who Will Fight Climate Change

One concrete way you can help fight climate change is to vote for politicians and parties that align with your views. Lawmakers have the power to rein in corporations that act with a lack of regard for the environment, and the U.S government has the ability to sign on to global agreements vowing to fight climate change. Some politicians have made combating climate change central to their politics, while others have not; President Trump, for example, has said that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China.

Use A Smart Thermostat

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One small but relatively easy step that the IPCC recommends is buying a smart thermostat for your home. This will prevent your home appliances from using air conditioning or heat unnecessarily, and by extension, will reduce your greenhouse emissions on a daily basis.

Hold Companies That Hurt The Environment Accountable

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According to a 2017 report in the Guardian, just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Although it may be impossible to completely cut ties with every company that has a negative impact on the environment, activists say boycotting the most environmentally damaging companies — and likewise, supporting the most sustainable ones — is one way to put your money where your mouth is.

Use LED Light Bulbs

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If you do nothing else to fight climate change, at least consider using LED light bulbs in your house. They're cheap, effective, and use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Given that electricity accounts for around 28 percent of all greenhouse emissions in the U.S., according to the EPA, that's a big deal.

Stopping climate change will be a herculean task on the part of humanity. Luckily, there are plenty of small steps that everybody can do to play their part.