So, What Can I Do?
Jonathan Foley

Hi Jonathan,

many thanks for a thoughtful, reasoned and balanced set of practical steps for reducing our impact on the planet. Many people look for personal empowerment, what they can do as individuals to make a better world. I have pondered this for some years and, as you acknowledge, these small steps are good but not sufficient in themselves.

In the case of climate change, where we have such a small window of opportunity to forestall runaway warming, individual savings alone do not cut it. We need rapid systemic change from fossil fuels to renewables as the first and most urgent step. In our work on climate education and advocacy we are calling individuals to join in collective political action (signing petitions, joining a climate action group, marching, whatever …) because here the numbers matter. Yes, make the changes you mentioned above (we do most of this ourselves) but we must increase pressure on the politicians who will only take the game changing steps if they know they have political support.

In Australia, where we live, we have a hamstrung political system that is lukewarm about effective and urgent action. Given recent analysis that we will hit 1.5c by 2024 on current emissions trajectory, we simply do not have time to rely on individual savings alone; we need an emissions free power grid and electric vehicles (including commercial vehicles) as a starting point (land/agriculture emissions are next in line). So our answer to your important question (what can I do?) is this: make your voice heard, even just by signing up to some group (a national NGO) because they need the numbers to in order to pressure their members or Parliament (or the House or Senate in the US).

Thanks again, I really enjoyed the crisp, clear way you summed up those important personal action!

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