In a world with so many problems, it’s easy to feel helpless. And particularly right now in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, quite alone. But even as we practice social distancing, we have an opportunity to work together to solve the greatest problem that humanity faces. No, I’m not talking about coronavirus. I’m talking about climate change.
As a climate scientist, I’m often asked what people can do about climate change, a problem so pervasive and impactful that literally all the rest of humanity’s problems play out upon its landscape. But there is no one specific answer, no magic bullet. Everyone has something different to contribute. And that’s the challenge. We must each find what we’re passionate about, capable of and good at. And we must all find our voice.
For some, that means organizing and attending local protests to put pressure on politicians, or participating in clean-up efforts that require nothing more than some gloves and trash bags. For others, it means supporting environmental organizations. It can mean working with businesses to reduce pollution or researching new technologies. Artists, celebrities and opinion leaders can use their platforms to educate, motivate and elevate others to join the cause. And we can change our lifestyle to lower our individual carbon footprint – eating less meat or going electric.
Our efforts as individuals are important. But alone they cannot solve this problem. We need collective action and systemic change. We need policies to incentive the decarbonization of our society. That requires politicians willing to support climate-friendly policies. And the only way we get them is by voting.
Voting is a moment of activism that can have a years-long impact. Just look at the Trump administration. Slim minorities in a handful of states by just over a quarter of eligible voters resulted in a president, Donald Trump, who threatens our entire planet. Trump stocked his administration with polluters and lobbyists who took the regulatory reins off their pals in the oil and gas industry. His administration has slowly but steadily dismantled a half century of environmental progress.