Today’s big idea is the most powerful thing you as an individual can do to combat climate change, and that is to join forces with an organization that is lobbying the government to adopt climate-friendly laws and practices.
Listen to the Podcast Here
Before I talk more about that…
I just want to say that, yes, changing your daily habits is important. Getting your tush used to recycled toilet paper (I promise it is possible). Springing for organic stuff and renewable energy. Reduce your food waste and start making and/or using compost. Growing things that feed you and the pollinators. All the things I talked about in the other episodes of this week’s focus on helping the planet.
These are things that if everyone did, would add up to a huge difference. But it’s a bottom up strategy. I love bottom up strategies! They give us agency and remind us that we matter! And yet, top down tactics–things like legislation–have the broadest and biggest impact on the health of our climate.
Take, for example, the fact that just 100 fossil fuel companies are responsible for generating 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emission. 71% percent!
So, if the government passes laws that require us to wean off of fossil fuels, and they provide incentives for us to develop and use renewable energy, that is a huge, huge lever to reducing the single big driver of climate change.
I have seen it happen here in Rhode Island, where I live
Here in Rhode Island, there were plans to build a huge new natural gas-fueled power plant that would have been the largest power plant in the state. The governor was on board and it really seemed like a done deal. But several environmental groups organized campaigns to raise awareness of it. They organized a sign campaign, showed up at the statehouse with signs to testify against the deal. And ultimately, they won. Despite the governor’s support, state regulators rejected it. And there was no new power plant.
All that organizing helped drum up support for laws that would require our state to reduce our climate emissions to net zero by 2050. The Act on Climate is a set of science-backed plans to wind down carbon output and ramp up renewables. With public input, environmental justice and accountability baked in to the process. And even in this crazy pandemic year when the legislature is really focused on measures to help everyone deal with and recover from the pandemic, the laws passed both sides of the house and the governor signed them in to law. I have seen firsthand that when the will of the people is clear–and unignorable–changes do get made.
Joining in an organization is how you help demonstrate the will of the people to the folks who are in power
And that’s when they start listening and writing and voting for the bills that reflect the will of the people, and not just the will of their big time donors. It ALSO helps alleviate your eco anxiety. Knowing that you’re doing your part is how you sleep well at night.
It’s how your individual drop of water adds up to a river, or even an ocean.
Find an environmental advocacy organization whose values and tactics you believe in and sign up to help. There are so many ways to pitch in, you can find something that works for you. If you are homebound, you can do things on social media. If you love talking to people, you can sign up to canvas. It’s not just how you advocate for change, it’s how you put your natural talents to use. Grow those talents and develop new ones, and meet people whom you care about the same things.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to do a little research on what environmental organizations are active in the fight against climate change in your area. The Sunrise Movement is a great place to start. It’s youth led, so it has a feisty energy that may or may not appeal to you. Or check out the Sierra Club, they’ve been around a long time and have a more respectful vibe, maybe that feels like a better fit for you. Or, do a quick search on environmental organizations and find one that resonates with you.
You can donate money to them, because money is always helpful. But you can also attend a meeting and see what you can to get involved that helps them and also fits with your life. You don’t have to chain yourself to a tree. You could write postcards, or email your lawmakers, or post stuff on social media.
This is by no means it for what you can do to help the planet, but it is the end of this week of episodes dedicated to it. I really hope this little pep talk has gotten you to try a couple things that you weren’t doing to help the planet out.