4 Ways to Support US Action on Climate Change Right Now (Yes, Even with a President-Elect Trump)

If you agree with the global majority that climate change is a defining issue of our time, having a President-elect of the United States who seems determined to move the clock back on our hard-fought progress is more than a little alarming. Here are four things we need to do right now to turn that alarm into action.

Remember These Facts

In times like these it can be easy to forget how much consensus there is. These few facts will go a long way to remind yourself that climate change is a problem most people want addressed.

- 64 % of Americans are significantly worried about global warming. The number is 84 % for Democrats, but even 40 % of Republicans are sufficiently worried and feel the effects have already begun[1]. In fact, only 16 % of Americans deny that climate change is a problem[2]. We have a lot of support in this fight.

- 97 % of climate scientist agree that climate change is happening –the same level of consensus among relevant doctors and public health experts that smoking causes cancer[3]. Unless you are hearing directly from that 3 %, the people telling you the science is uncertain either a) don’t know what they are talking about, b) are getting paid a lot of money to lie, or c) are being influenced by a or b. If your doctor told you smoking wasn’t linked to cancer you would probably find another opinion, am I right?

- Fine — maybe science and popular opinion don’t sway you. Then remember that the world’s largest investment firm has warned that the risks of climate change on our economy are too big to ignore[4]. In fact, the fiscally conservative approach would be to act now — Citibank estimates taking action now will cost $1.8 trillion less globally than inaction, but more importantly will save us from the 10 of trillions of dollars of additional global GDP loss with each added degree of temperature rise[5].

Remind Your Elected Officials Who They Represent

Democracy is government by the people, and as James Madison described in the federalist papers, is used “to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country”[6]. The time is now to pass along to our chosen body of citizens — whether you personally choose them or not — that climate change is real, happening now, and the majority of American’s want action. Repeat after me – Republican elected officials don’t only work for Republicans. President-elect Trump wants you to tell him how to make America great — so let’s tell him that sacrificing coastal communities and food production all while wasting money is not what the majority of American’s have in mind. Let’s remind him and our representatives in Congress that there is no reason climate change should be a partisan issue, and that most other developed and developing countries know that renewable energy is the future[7]. Ask them to explain again why clinging to outdated fuels and technologies will make us great? Remind them of the impact inaction will have on our economy. Tell them we don’t want the keystone XL pipeline, and we don’t need to be the laughing stock of the global community by backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement. And remember, members of Congress ultimately have to approve Trump’s pick to lead the EPA — tell them we demand someone who recognizes the severities of inaction. Start right now to make sure our message is heard loud and clear.

Go Local

If we are honest with ourselves, the federal government has never led on climate change — real action has happened, and must continue to happen, at the state and local level. 12 major U.S. cities are part of a group of global cities taking action on climate change. Mayors of more than 125 U.S. cities — Republicans and Democrats in red and blue states — have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resiliency to climate change through the Compact of Mayors. States like Massachusetts and Virginia have grant and financing programs to support renewable energy and energy efficiency in smaller cities and towns. Is your city, town, or state leading the way? Great! Send them a note telling them to keep up the hard work. Write an Op Ed in a local paper making sure everyone knows what your community has done, and should continue to do, to address climate change. If your community is not taking action, push them to do so. Talk to the people that are most likely feeling the impacts of global warming — farmers, landscapers, park rangers, water officials, businesses — and make them your allies. If they don’t realize the connections between climate change and drought, floods, supply chain shortages, and pests (just to name a few), help them understand that addressing climate change is non-negotiable if they want their business to succeed. Get the attention of local officials, and show them what similar communities have achieved. They will be hard pressed to find a good reason not to act on climate change, and at this point working from the ground up is our best strategy.

Stay motivated

To say it has been a hard week would be an understatement, and in its wake the mountain can seem insurmountable. But, we have to be more motivated than ever before. Make contact. Peacefully protest. Donate time or resources to a relevant non-profit. Join a local advocacy group. Share these facts. Get some sleep. Remember that even if the results had been different, we would still have to fight. Now, we just need to fight that much harder.

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/190010/concern-global-warming-eight-year-high.aspx

[2] http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication-OFF/files/Climate-Change-American-Mind-October-2015.pdf

[3] http://whatweknow.aaas.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/whatweknow_website.pdf

[4] http://www.businessinsider.com/blackrock-report-on-climate-change-and-finance-2016-9

[5]https://ir.citi.com/hsq32Jl1m4aIzicMqH8sBkPnbsqfnwy4Jgb1J2kIPYWIw5eM8yD3FY9VbGpK%2Baax

[6] Federalist №10 The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection From the New York Packet. Friday, November 23, 1787.

[7] http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/05/renewable-energy-soaring-are-we-ready