ASK EARTHA: How much impact on climate change can one person make?
Dear Eartha, I am so overwhelmed and discouraged by all the climate change news but also feel inspired by the action that is being taken. How much impact can one person really make to such a big issue? – Madeline, Blue River
Madeline, I hear you. I get overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes, too. Climate change is here and unfortunately the news of its impact will continue. There is no sugar coating – its effects are big, complex, and right outside our front door. While it may feel like your actions have little effect, it is helpful to remember you are not one but rather one of many. And as one of many you effect real change. Here’s why one person matters and a few things to keep in mind to forge ahead!
Vote for a livable future
Another election is just a few weeks away and while there are many issues that will impact our community’s future, voting for individuals that share the urgency on climate change should be a top consideration. It’s not just a vote for the environment but a vote for the health of our economy, way of life, and livable future. Election season is not the only time your voice is needed. All the large municipalities in Summit County have now all signed on the Climate Action Plan, this a great step forward! But they need your support to put that commitment into bold action. Let your town council representatives know you support projects that will make a significant impact on reducing carbon pollution.
You are an influencer
You don’t have to have 200k Instagram followers or be the most popular ski instructor to influence your peers. You’re actually doing it already in what you wear, say, and do. Whether you’re a zero-waste warrior or a sustainable food crusader, you influence those around you in fundamental ways. Maybe you were the first of your friends to start collecting your food scraps or the first in your neighborhood to put solar on your home. Or simply the one who always remembers your reusable coffee mug when meeting up with friends…and soon enough no one in your group would be caught dead with one of those landfill-clogging-coffee cups. Seeing our peers do their part to live sustainability and decrease their carbon footprints makes doing those things ourselves more achievable, especially when there are real benefits to doing them, like saving money and having less stuff.
Something to talk about
Climate change may be on your holiday “do-not-discuss” list, but it’s time to take it off because we cannot afford to NOT to talk about it. It’s happening, and we have to talk about it if we are going to build a culture of action to address it. Talking about it doesn’t mean lecturing, but rather sharing the reality that our climate is changing and how you are reducing your own carbon footprint. There are also exciting things happening around the world. People galvanized to reverse climate change are creating new sustainable systems and new businesses opportunities without the negatively impacting the environment. When you share ideas and actions, you may find yourself inspired and among more allies than you think, which makes taking on climate change less daunting.
It may seem easier to convince ourselves there is little we can do to bring positive impacts to our communities, but that’s true only if we’re lazy. Are we not a community of competitors, adventurers, creators, risk-takers, dreamers, doers, and game-changers? We rise to challenges, not duck and run from them.
In a recent talk in Frisco given by Colorado State University Climate and Water Scientist, Brad Udall, he gave us some hard facts on the changes happening in our Colorado neighborhood. But he also was hopeful and encouraged the audience that it is not too late to take action because every tenth of a degree is important. This means there is no time to lose in choosing the path of a secure, livable future not only for ourselves, but also for future generations and the planet with which we’ve been entrusted. So be bold, Madeline, in how you vote, act, and speak, because what you can make a difference.
TAKE ACTION: check out Climate Action Toolkit for more ways you make an impact.