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About the IPCC Climate Change Assessment: Don't Panic. Instead, Take Action.
Do not give in to doomism
As yesterday’s headlines reflect, the IPCC’s sixth assessment of climate change is, not surprisingly, terrifying:
"The IPCC report is clear: nothing short of transforming society will avert catastrophe" Guardian
“U.N climate change report sounds ‘code red for humanity’” Reuters
“A Hotter Future Is Certain, Climate Panel Warns. But How Hot Is Up to Us.” New York Times
So what can we do? Anything that reduces the amount of greenhouse gas we emit into the atmosphere.
Write to our elected representatives
Urge politicians to support clean energy and CO2-reducing policies and to end fossil fuel subsidies.
What to say
You could start by fleshing out the following:
Who and where. Introduce yourself and where you live. “I live in [your city] and am a constituent.”
Why. Explain the concern that prompted you to write. “I am alarmed by the quickly closing window of opportunity to address the climate crisis.”
What. This is your demand. Ask the representative to support climate legislation. Mention specific bills if possible. “I urge you to support the Clean Energy Standard Bill to decarbonize the entire grid by 2035 and the Clean Energy for America Act which provides tax incentives for increased investment in clean energy.” Find other bills here.
Conclusion. Sign your email or letter. “Thank you for your time. Sincerely, [name]”
Politicians rarely hear from us so when they do, they tend to pay attention. If they receive enough letters on the climate crisis, it can sway them to vote on the right side of history.
Join 350.org or another climate-focused group
Author and professor Bill McKibbon launched this grassroots, worldwide environmental movement to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere down to a safe 350 parts per million. We blew past 400 ppm in 2016. Among other activities, 350.org organizes massive climate marches and pushes for divestment from fossil fuels.
Last night, I attended my chapter’s monthly Zoom Meetup, Climate Cocktail Hour and Letter Writing. We emailed our senators, congresspeople and the president to urge them to support specific bills drafted to transition quickly away from fossil fuels. We also wrote the big banks to tell them to cut their massive investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Break up with the big banks
The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8tn of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2015, according to a report by a coalition of NGOs.
If you’ve never invested before, you have the benefit of starting fresh and choosing a bank that doesn’t finance/enable an industry hell-bent on the destruction of, well, everything. The world’s largest financiers/enablers of the fossil fuel industry are:
JP Morgan Chase: the worst in the world, five years in a row
Citi: second-worst in the world
Wells Fargo: world’s top fracking banker
Bank of America: another big fracking enabler
RBC: worst in Canada
You can look up any mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) you hold or might buy on the website fossilfreefunds.org. From the site:
Fossil Free Funds analyzes the climate impact of thousands of U.S. mutual funds and ETFs and shows you if your money is being invested in fossil fuel companies, or companies with high carbon footprints. We make it easy to know what you own, so you can align your investments with your values.
Checking, savings and credit cards
A credit union is a good option for your day-to-day banking and credit card. Member-owned, not-for-profit credit unions exist to help their members, not big business. Yours can likely help you manage your investments as well.
Turn off the news (and your devices)
No, I’m not advocating that we stick our heads in the hot sand and ignore the news. However, scrolling through Twitter for hours and hours (or even one hour…) can lead to doomism (see below) and inaction.
Take a break from the news regularly and consider heading outside. A mere two hours weekly spent out in a park, the woods or the beach boosts health and wellbeing, whether we take that two-hour dose in one shot or in small snippets throughout the week.
Of those who spent little or no time in nature, a quarter reported poor health and almost half said they were not satisfied with their life, a standard measure of wellbeing. In contrast, just one-seventh of those who spent at least two hours in nature said their health was poor, while a third were not satisfied with their life.”
Avoid wasting food (here’s how)
Eat a plant-rich diet (here are some recipes)
Cut plastic waste (here are 50 ways)
Grow some food (start small with scrappy gardening)
Support small farmers that regenerate the soil
Walk or bike more
Buy less stuff
When you do buy, shop small and local (here’s why)
Do not give in to climate doomism
Doomism leads to inaction.
Yes, the climate situation is dire but we are not doomed. Please do not give into doomism. When we fall victim to doomism, we lose. The fossil fuel interests that knowingly created this crisis continue with business as usual, without opposition. They win. Rather than despairing, put that energy/panic/anger into action. (Go here for strategies to cope with ecoanxiety.)
Keep in mind that we have the tools in hand now to address the climate crisis. And every time we prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere, we reduce just how hot the climate gets.
You still must eat
Wasted food accounts for between 8 and 10 percent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN Food Waste Index Report 2021. Slashing your food waste boosts your bank account, inspires creativity in the kitchen and results in tastier dishes. Learn more about my cookbook here.