Climate change – two small words, only 13 letters long, that are so often stated they have seemingly been rendered meaningless. They are such an integrated part of the lexicon, it is not fully processed by the majority of the population. Despite this misconception, these two tiny words have implications that are as enormous as planet Earth herself.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, the world has 12 years until climate change will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, which will cause catastrophic and irreversible damage to the Earth.
This report inherently demands a call for change in the way the future of the Earth is headed. That change must happen on all levels of human civilization, from the individual to the supranational level.
Starting from the smallest, each person can do something to help prevent climate change from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. A few simple things the average American can do are: reuse and reduce before you recycle, reduce their meat and dairy consumption, offset their carbon emissions, run their thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer, wash their clothes with cold water, and buy Fair Trade/Rainforest Alliance/Energy Star products when able.
Recycling isn’t the fix all it is often portrayed as, with lots of pollution caused by the process, and contamination of supplies, it’s not the best thing an American can do to help the environment. Reusing the products they would have recycled for a new purpose, or altogether reducing how much they consume in the first place, is a much better choice. Meat and dairy production is the leading cause of agricultural pollutants, and takes up copious amounts of arable land.
75 percent of farmlands go to the raising of meat and dairy, and 18 percent of global greenhouse gases come from this type of agriculture as well. Using cold water to wash one’s laundry would cut 75 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions and use of energy, with no major health deterrents, as long as a cold wash friendly detergent is used.
Finally, buying products that keep the environment in mind can reduce the impact individuals have on climate change. Labels such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Energy Star can be used to make informed purchases.
Local governments can also do their part to reduce climate change. Local governments can create policies that help reduce the impact climate change will have on their surroundings.
Another example would be the city of Miami. Being a coastal city, Miami faces huge problem with rising tides. Building up higher roads and installing pumps to push floodwaters back into Biscayne Bay (a body of water bordering the city) are two things the local government has installed to aid in the effort to reduce the effects of climate change on the city’s inhabitants. These two cities showcase many ways in which local governments can help stop the increase in global temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, a part that is essential in helping the global advance in this issue.
Besides local governments, the Federal Government of the United States of America could do a lot to reduce climate change. Renewable energy is something that can lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and could easily fit into the United States’ geography.
Many locations are optimal for features like wind and solar farms, and government promotions of these innovations would only increase their numbers in the U.S. carbon taxes, which increase taxes that corresponds to carbon emissions, are an extra economic incentive for Americans to buy more environmentally friendly goods, and is one the government can control. Additionally, subsidizing eco-friendly crops, whatever they may be, is a step the U.S. Government can take to reduce climate change.
The U.S. Government uses agricultural subsidies every year; they could have easily adapted to a more sustainable approach, which could help promote economic growth as well as preserving the Earth. Finally, the U.S. government can also more closely regulate cooperation to ensure they are not adding to the global temperature rise, through means such as the carbon cap, or even more strict industry standards. It’s easy for the U.S. government to help reduce the impact of climate change.
Ultimately, the United States can use the world stage to push for reduced climate change. Being one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the U.S. has the ability to help pass binding resolutions at this influential supranational organization. The U.S. can also support international initiatives that help to reduce the impact of climate change, such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Kyoto Accords.
It it clear that, while the ICCP report is a cause for alarm, there is a glimpse of hope. It will take effort from many Americans on all levels of society, but some prevention is possible. That is an opportunity no one on this planet we call home can afford to lose.
Sadie Testa-Secca // Managing Editor