Climate Change: So, What Can We Do?

Climate Change is bearing down on us, accelerating month by month. Simply put, it’s all about carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon up = global warming; Carbon down = global cooling.

Scientific surveys prove that rising carbon emissions are changing normal weather patterns, creating huge dead zones in the oceans, melting arctic glaciers and causing a host of other environmental problems.

Individually, we can do some things, and collectively, some things we have to do. For those of us who are concerned but sometimes feel overwhelmed and perplexed, here are some ideas based on experience:

Individually: For example, to lessen our “carbon footprint”, we:

  • Grow lots of food. It saves money, provides exercise and, since we don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, it’s friendly to the environment.
  • Process lots of fruits and vegetables. We can and dry mostly because freezing uses energy and besides we often lose track of what we have in the freezer.
  • Avoid packaged processed food. We mostly buy fresh or bulk, so we don’t have to worry about plastics leaching into our food or throw out tons of plastic packaging that often finds its way into the sea and fish.
  • Prepare and cook from scratch so we have no need to heat up packaged food.
  • Avoid factory-farmed meat because of the packaging and because of environmental damage at the feedlots.
  • Reduce our water by using garden drip tapes and low-flow showerheads and toilets. Urban gardeners need to advocate for special water rates for growing food.
  • Reduce electric usage with compact fluorescent bulbs and a low energy refrigerator.
  • Shop at and donate to Thrift Stores.
  • Practice the 4-R: ReUse, RePurpose, RePair, ReCycle.
  • Reduce number of car trips. We bundle the need to travel, for shopping and meetings. No single purpose car trips.
  • Study CC and organize presentations so I can write articles. Instead of talking, I would sing but I can’t carry a tune. (Use your individual talents to make a difference.)
  • Vote Climate Change. We would like to identify politicians who will work to mitigate for climate change. As 350.org founder Bill McKibben says, “First change your politicians, then worry about your lightbulbs.” (pg 252 A. Leonard in Is Sustainability Still Possible?)

Greening small daily activities brings our actions in line with our values, which feels good, but is lots easier than compared with changing our society that is heading toward an ecological cliff. Example: Of all the gross national trash, > 3% is municipal solid waste (our garbage), while 76% is from industrial waste. Who will change that? Our government? Our corporate industrial system? Us? Ibelieve that we must continue our little individual changes while working on societal change. Wendell Berry says, “The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people.” (YES! Spring 2015, pg 47.)

Collectively: Social collective action will be key in mitigating the worst effects of climate change. We organize, or sooner or later spontaneous revolts will erupt over food, water or disaster relief, resulting in anarchy. Some thoughts:

  • Start with the group you know best and feel comfortable with, i.e. your church group, social clubs, your children’s groups.
  • Start local with your community, neighborhood schools, City of Redding, Shasta County. Most important, advocate for including Climate Change in education.
  • Start with activities that are realistic. Green your church, home, or business. Educate your groups and the youth who will be the future leaders. Set up study/action groups, start a film series. Write letters or tweet our politicians.
  • Start with the current climate problem, California’s historic drought. Advocate for water conservation while making allowances for growing food. Advocate “Food not Lawns.” Learn watering saving techniques and then help your neighbors.

One reason why I’m concern about Climate Change is that I feel guilty. The generations of my time (the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s) embraced an economic system that is causing global warming and climate change. First, we rejected our parent’s materialism and embraced the Hippies, but then we gradually became Yuppies, co-opted by the power of advertising and personal wants. We wanted all the new gadgets even with their-built in obsolescence.

Now we’re faced with the consequences of all the consumer stuff, leaving a legacy of a deteriorating planet for our kids to deal with. If they don’t fix Climate Change, they will have no one else to blame.

Wayne Kessler is the former owner of Shambani Organics, former Peace Corps volunteer, and founding member of Growing Local.

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Following his grandfather's advice, "Grow food. People always need food," has led Wayne to a lifetime of cultivating and processing food. He spends much of his time encouraging people to become more food independent by growing their own.
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12 Responses

  1. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I live in a state, Wyoming, that is dependent on fossil fuel production for most of it’s economy and the politicians are at worst CC deniers, at best CC ignorers. As individuals here we don’t look to stop the production but insure it is done safely.
    The problem is two thirds of the energy produced in Wyoming goes out of state, most to California but the Colorado frontrange is becoming a main source for Wyoming power. The producers will produce what ever amounts the consumers use so the start to clean up the planet is to use less. I can see the effects of large city pollution when ever I drive toward Denver as the air becomes more dirty the closer I get.
    Beijing, the poster child for dirty air, cleaned up its air for the APEC Summit. They did this by shutting down all factories within 125 miles, closing all schools, furloughing half of government employees and banning half of the cars on the road. From reports there was actually blue sky but this was only temporary as they couldn’t kill the economy permanently.
    While those of us living in rural areas can make small changes the big changes are going to have to be made in the large cities.

  2. Avatar CoachBob says:

    The 50’s, 60’s, 70’s actions lead to climate change? Yet we were facing an “ice age” in the mid-70’s? Who are you kidding? Peace corps? Organic? Yep, you do feel guilty.

  3. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Too bad the 80 mile per gallon cars that Ford, Dodge, and Pontiac designed in the 90s weren’t allowed to be be produced. A new car of the same model as my car (which is 13 years old) gets no better mileage than the car I drive. Great article Wayne. Your list is my list, but there are enormously wealthy and powerful forces involved in making too many decisions for our country. What I imagine, but don’t know for sure, is that many countries place the welfare of their citizens above the gains of any corporation or business venture.

  4. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    Regardless of whether or not you agree that global warming is, in fact, happening, most everything suggested in the article above is simply healthier.
    And whether or not fossil fuels are fueling (pun intended) climate change, is it a fact that fossil fuels are a finite supply. They WILL run out eventually. Also, “eventually” may not affect those of us as a certain age. . . .but it will affect our grandchildren.

  5. Avatar CoachBob says:

    The earth warms. The earth cool. Been doin’ that for a long, long time.

    • Avatar Breakfast Guy says:

      Perhaps so. CoachBob. But without acknowledgement to 20th century carbon emission data, one might think your comments appear unspecific and similar to talking points of those who deny.

      I tend to listen to 97% of the atmospheric science community, thank you.

      • Avatar CoachBob says:

        97% of that community is supported by the Gov’t. They have a major $$ dog in the fight. And, by the way, your percentages are as erroneous as the ones presented by those who think “it’s all our fault”.

        • Avatar Breakfast Guy says:

          “97% of that community is supported by the Gov’t. They have a major $$ dog in the fight”.

          Can you add clarity to that statement Coach Bob? What exactly do you mean? Government in general or the Obama administration?

          BTW, that 97% is comprised of climate scientists from the U.S. AND internationally.
          http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

  6. Avatar david kerr says:

    Take a Google Earth tour of Redding. The three largest solar installations are the rooftop of Walmart, Shasta College and the FAA at the south end of Redding airport.

    To encourage solar, Redding city council should adopt tiered rates for REU, like PG&E. The lowest tier for PG&E pays LESS than REU! I propose $0.08/kWh for the lowest tier. Rates for the highest tier should be raised to pay for progressive electric rates. Large users, like shopping malls would have an incentive to switch to solar if REU were charging them rates like they pay in Germany (about $.50/kwH).

    Medium size solar installations have advantages over residential scale. The residential scale, I believe 2.45 kW on the rooftop of Shasta public library could be expanded. School rooftops are a bad idea because of vandalism and copper wire theft. Shopping center rooftops have 24 hour security.

  7. Avatar david kerr says:

    http://www.reupower.com/pdf/2013_Power_Content_Label.pdf
    REU was getting 8% of juice from coal plants, which I believe were located on the Navajo reservation ins four corners.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      True, David. A R/S article stated how REU gets power from the coal plant on the Navajo reservation during low water years. In addition a KQED study found that southern California gets 40% of their energy from coal plants they own in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. California promised these states that they would divest themselves of coal plant ownership but it hasn’t happened yet.
      A lot of that coal power will be replaced by wind power from Wyoming wind farms if the wind farms get built. Now that the feds are wanting to list the sage grouse as endangered that could stop the wind farms as the sage grouse are the biggest issue against wind mills. The wind farms are oppossed by enviromental groups who say that the grouse habitat will be ruined by the wind farms.
      That makes me wonder if the sage grouse are Wyoming’s spotted owl.
      Solar may be the way. In Phoenix the FRYS store at 2727 Bell covered part of their parking lot, which gave much needed shade, and installed solar panels. The FRYS clerk said that the panels would save FRYS $10,000 a month in electric bills. With the high use of air conditioners I don’t doubt that figure. The project was partially funded by the Arizona Public Service Renewable Incentive Program. That program is funded by APS customers.

  8. Avatar David Rowney says:

    Meanwhile, Redding Electric Utility is proposing a new rate structure that will result in lower cost per unit of energy to higher energy users, and will charge more to low energy users. Solar owners will be heavily penalized.