For Earth Day, Make It an Earth Year
Let’s use Earth Day—April 22—as a motivation for climate action this entire year.
The federal government is trying to set an example. On Earth Day, President Biden will host the Global Leaders Climate Summit in Washington, DC. He is expected to announce aggressive, specific new targets for cutting the United States’ share of global emissions.
Those goals affect government, businesses, and organizations. But what can we as individuals do?
First, we need to acknowledge the urgency of climate action. We don’t need to talk about that, or post about it on our Facebook page. We just need to make the commitment in our hearts and minds. And then do something.
For starters, check out these ideas. You may be doing some of these already, but we all need to do more.
- Eat less meat with a high carbon footprint, such as beef and lamb. Beef production generates four to eight times as much carbon as pork, chicken or egg production, for every gram of protein created.
- Drive less. Or at least drive fewer miles powered by fossil fuels. The pandemic has opened up opportunities, including electric cars; electric bikes; and working more from home. Transportation accounts for about 25 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. And 86 percent of U.S. employees commuted to work in a private vehicle, pre-pandemic.
- Buy less stuff. This helps more than recycling ever will. Throughout its life cycle, the average product produces carbon emissions 6.3 times its own weight.
- Use less natural gas at home. The more cooking and heating you can do with electricity rather than gas, the better.
- Support climate action efforts of businesses, institutions and governments.
Need motivation? The negative effects of climate change are personal, for older people as much as anyone. In fact, older adults may be one of the groups most affected by climate change, because of decreased mobility, physiological changes, and access to resources.
Here in western Washington, climate change will likely continue to increase the potential for more intense storms of all kinds, more droughts, extreme heat, flooding, landslides, wildfires, and wildfire smoke.
But on the positive side, many climate actions—including the ones listed above—can save you money and improve your life in general. So, let’s get started!
Earth Day got started 51 years ago at a time when America was facing an environmental reckoning. Today, the overarching eco-crisis is climate change, and it’s not just national but global. To celebrate Earth Day, we can begin to be an active part of the solution.
Contributor Tom Watson manages the King County EcoConsumer public outreach program. Questions or comments? Contact Tom any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-477-4481.