It's been so drastic - changes in environment all over the world. What can an individual contribute to fight against global warming? If it continues this way, the world as we know it won't exist longer.

  • 2
    This is a too broad question. But as one of the main problems for emissions is transportation, mind your own transport habits but most of all be an intelligent consumer (because things we buy might have crossed already two times the entire world)... – Sironsse May 18 '13 at 8:47
  • 1
    The question has been edited. It originally asked 'do you worry about global warming' and I answered no. I think we should stick to practical detailed questions about sustainability. – Duncan May 19 '13 at 2:23
  • This is a very broad topic. The question can't be "answered", per se. It can only compile, discuss, and debate the vast options available. Your question sums up the the entire subject space of this site. This site works better with specific problems you encounter in your day to day activities. These type of talking-point and debate questions are better asked in a discussion forum or chat room. It's an interesting question; it's just not well-suited to this type of Q&A site. See sustainability.stackexchange.com/about. Sorry about the confusion. – Robert Cartaino May 20 '13 at 13:51
  • BaSha - on the positive side, your question can be separated into lots of specific, individual, smaller ones, that would be very suitable for this site, and I'd strongly encourage you to do so. Just take one small bite out of the problem, and post that as another question. – 410 gone May 22 '13 at 11:55

I'll split this answer into two parts: the political and the personal

Political impact

Whatever political system you live in, you have some route to make a political impact. The amount of impact will depend on your exact circumstance, but you will have some impact somewhere: through your elected representative, through a national political party, through a religious body, or through economic influence.

Once you've identified a person of influence in one of those spheres, next find out what motivates them, what sort of language they use to describe problems and solutions, and what their priorities are. Then, explain to them how catastrophic anthropogenic global warming will worsen some of those problems; and give them three good tactical approaches to preventing that from happening.

An example

In a representative democracy, there are routes to power through party-political structures, and through elected members. One can join a political party that is free of policies you find completely unacceptable, and work within it to develop policies to mitigate global warming. If the party's main message is one of protecting the weak and creating an equitable society, then your approach would be to talk about how catastrophic global warming would make the poorest suffer, and how it would divert resources away from tackling wealth inequity.

The three tactical approaches might be:

  1. working with international partners to put in place rapid decarbonisation targets;
  2. transferring part of the source of taxation from something that is held to be a good thing, such as employment, onto greenhouse-gas emissions; and combining this with an equivalent import duty on goods and services that contain embedded carbon.
  3. introduce capital grants to low-income households, to enable them to buy photovoltaic panels extremely cheaply, and then to sell their surplus power back to the grid.

Personal impact

For almost all of us, our own personal emissions are very small in the scheme of things. And yet, if each of us can take personal actions to halve our total greenhouse gas impact, then global emissions will halve. So together, our impact can be huge. Furthermore, wherever there are some market forces in place, then changing your demand from high-carbon goods and services to low-carbon ones, will incentivise commerce and industry to decarbonise at the margins. The main thing is to work out where your biggest personal impact is, and to start there.

An example

For anyone who flies or drives a lot, their travel is probably a very large part of their personal carbon footprint. If the long trips can be shifted to train, and the shorter drives can be shifted to bus, tram, metro, walking or cycling, then that can have a big impact.

For anyone living a climate where a large part of the year requires space-heating, and that's done through gas, oil, coal or high-carbon electricity, then investing in insulation and reducing draughts should save you money in the long run, and will reduce your personal emissions.

If you have a choice of electricity provider, then in some cases, changing provider can make a difference.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    +1 "...our own personal emissions are very small in the scheme of things." Of course, the problem in the first place was caused by many, many individuals making relatively small harmful decisions, all of which summed to produce a very large problem. So, it works both ways. I find lots of people paralyzed, based on the assumption that they alone must solve a noticeable part of the global problem, or else they're wasting their time. I think a reasonable goal is to remedy your contribution to the problem (and maybe that of your dependents, if you have any). – Nate May 18 '13 at 21:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.