Come together to combat climate change. Villagers in the rural English town of Ashton Hayes didn’t need government help, special technology, or extra funding to fight climate change. Over the last decade, neighbors there have achieved a 24 percent reduction in emissions by collaborating and changing everyday behaviors, sharing tips on weatherproofing, and reducing energy usage. The grassroots, no-drama effort even earned the town a place in the media spotlight.
Listen to the best climate podcast. Warm Regards features a big-picture, science-focused look at climate change, from glaciology to green energy, hosted by meteorologist Eric Holthaus with paleoecologist Jacquelyn Gill and New York Times journalist Andy Revkin.
Read a book. Some great books for learning more about climate change and how to get involve include Merchants of Doubt, which looks at scientists who dispute evidence of climate change; Climate Change, What Everyone Needs to Know, a great Q&A-style overview; The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, the award-winning New Yorker writer; and Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning by George Monbiot.
Get your kids on board. You’re never too young to take climate action. 10 Things ICan Do to Help My World and George Saves the World by Lunchtime offer everyday ways for children to be mindful about the planet, while NASA’s Climate Kids provides a solid introduction to the science of global climate change. (Don’t worry, they’ve got a grownup version, too.)
Support a carbon tax. A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels, like coal, oil, and gas. It’s a way for users of carbon fuels to pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and an incentive that motivates companies to switch to non-carbon fuels and energy efficiency.
Find out where your reps stand. It wasn’t just Trump who decided to back out of the Paris accord: These 22 senators have been pushing the U.S. to withdraw since May. There are plenty of tools that can show how your representatives have voted on recent climate and science issues. If you don’t agree with their decisions, get in touch.
Re-watch An Inconvenient Truth. You may have seen Al Gore’s climate change documentary back when it debuted 11 years ago, but in many ways, its message has never been more urgent. Host a viewing party, then plan to see the sequel, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, in theaters on July 28, 2017.
Support publications reporting on climate change. Great journalism makes us all better citizens and helps us learn more about the issues (for example, how climate change is changing the taste of tea and hurting food production).
Map local air pollution. The Environmental Defense Fund teamed up with Google to build a remote sensing tool that can help map air pollution in cities. Neighborhoods can use the data to reduce emissions and target communities most at risk for health issues.
Support corporate sustainability initiatives, or start one at your office. If your company has one, find ways to get involved. If not, talk to your colleagues about starting one. A recent eight-year study by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group, which offers plenty of advice and actionable goals, is a good place to start.
Understand how density fights climate change. Although the connection isn’t immediately obvious, building taller, denser cities is the best way to reduce emissions because they allow people and the goods they consume to expend less energy during transit. Smart development is the best way for a city to shrink its carbon footprint.
Back a scientist running for office. Only five people in Congress identify as scientists, which many science-minded advocates say is part of the problem when it comes to climate legislation. Find a scientist running near you or, better yet, if you’ve got a science background, here’s how to run yourself.
Watch a cartoon. Wall-E is the tale of a robot left alone to clean up Earth after humans trashed the place and escaped to outer space. Vox calls it one of the finest environmental films of the past decade, a riveting picture of society’s insatiable need to consume and what happens when private industry’s drive for profit overtakes the public good. This is the movie we need right now.
Offset your carbon emissions. If you want to approach the gold standard of environmental responsibility, take steps to completely neutralize your carbon footprint and invest in carbon offsets, which fund programs that help absorb the carbon generated by your everyday activities, such as reforestation. Groups such as Carbon Neutral and My Climate can help businesses and individuals get started.
Grasp the basics. Here are nine questions about climate change you were too afraid to ask, including “How do we stop it?”
Join a Day for Climate Action. On Saturday June 10, cities across the country will organize around city halls and statehouses to demand climate action. Find an event near you, or organize your own.
Become a “planetary futurist.” Alex Steffen is arguably one of the smartest voices for climate action. His latest project, The Nearly Now, is a newsletter that promises to not only change the way you see the future, but also to give you the tools and necessary optimism to affect its outcome.
Follow female environmental journalists. Need daily news and inspiration from trusted sources? David Roberts of our sister site Vox has compiled this list of over 125women writing about climate change and clean energy.
Visit our national parks. Many of our treasured national parks are on the frontlines of climate change; for example, Glacier National Park may be glacier-free within a few decades. Here are some environmentally sound places to stay while you visit.
Understand how the debate became political. The conversation about climate change has been plagued by partisanship—in fact, how Americans voted in the 2016 election almost exactly mirrors their climate beliefs. Here’s why humans are so bad at wrapping their heads around it and how to prevent people from becoming victims of denial.
Discuss, and advocate, for the environment in more concrete terms. “The environment is an abstract concept, and until you put a human face to the problem you will not inspire people to act. The Slow Space Movement puts people first—their experience, their health, and their rights. It goes beyond sustainability and checklists and connects with people on an emotional level by telling the stories of how their lives are affected by the built environment.” — Mette Aamodt, co-founder and CEO of Aamodt/Plumb Architects.
Disinvest from carbon-heavy industries and investments. Making sure your financial portfolio matches your beliefs is a sound investment in our collective future. Many mutual funds and retirement accounts offer clean energy and carbon-free options, and groups such as Carbon Tracker have helped demonstrate the risk of carbon-heavy investments in light of a worldwide shift toward cleaner energy.
Endorse the Paris agreement. You can show your support for the global climate accord by personally agreeing to uphold its values.
Build towers (and eventually skyscrapers) with wood. “Building with Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) and other emerging wood technologies allows us to ‘grow’ future cities with a renewable resource that sequesters carbon and connects urban growth to rural economic development.” — Thomas Robinson, founding principal of Lever Architecture.
Work on a community solar project. Solar panels can be a stretch for many homeowners, and an impossibility for renters. But that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in a sun-powered future. More than 25 states allow for community solar projects, which let a group of residents team up to fund a centralized, shared solar installation. Others are attempting to take it one step further: In New York City, the Brooklyn Microgrid projectwants to create a viable market to sell local energy between neighbors.
Read some climate fiction. And if that doesn’t scare you into taking action, we don’t know what will.
Vote. Especially if you’re a millennial.