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.
closed as not constructive by Robert Cartaino♦ May 20 '13 at 13:51
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I'll split this answer into two parts: the political and the personal
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.
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:
- working with international partners to put in place rapid decarbonisation targets;
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.