It’s not hard to find bad news about the climate.
According to both NASA and NOAA, July of this year was the hottest month since temperatures began getting recorded in 1880. The second hottest July? July of 2015.
In Southern Maine, we’re experiencing a moderate drought. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, over 40,000 homes have been damaged by severe flooding that some scientists have linked to climate change. In my home state, Alaska, residents just voted to move a small coastal village because of erosion due to rising sea levels.
Can you imagine having to move an entire town?
And that’s just in the U.S.
I’ve been feeling scared.
My first response to bad news about our planet is despair. The thought of having to tell my kids that we’re all screwed, that their generation might face one of the greatest threats humans have ever experienced, makes me want to curl up in the fetal position while binge-watching Netflix and carb loading.
I feel like whatever small things I might be able to do won’t make any difference. So, instead of taking action, or connecting with others who are working towards solutions, or brainstorming as a family about how we might do our part to battle climate change, I internalize it.
I do nothing.
But then I watched this video by a woman who works for NASA, and my whole attitude did a 360.
“Can you imagine if all of us NASA people just sat around going ‘Ah, that’s too hard,’ every time some ginormous obstacle happened?” Laura Faye Tenenbaum asked in her TedX talk.
In her inspiring, unique speech, she encourages us to lean in to climate change instead of running away.
“All of us need to stay connected to the conversations that are happening around climate change. Even when it’s hard. Even when we feel like running. Even when we feel hopeless…especially when we feel hopeless,“ Tenenbaum says.
She teases the hulking weight of climate change into something less frightening—a dare.
“At the entrance to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where I work, there’s a sign that says ‘Dare Mighty Things.’ The way I see it, that sign is talking directly to me. ‘I dare you,’ it says. I dare you.
Not to try something easy. Not to try something that I already know I can do. That sign is daring me to run towards something hard. And now I dare you. What would happen if we ran toward the challenge of climate change with confidence, strength and courage?
Game on, Climate Change. Game on.”
The fact that Tenenbaum works for NASA and can see climate change as a challenge and not something that has already defeated us gives me so much hope and, even better, it makes me feel ready to take more action.
Are you inspired? Are you ready?
Here are nine simple things you can do to help slow climate change:
- Vote for leaders who support the environment. Donald Trump said that if he won the presidency, he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement—the first worldwide agreement addressing climate change.
- Handwrite letters to the editor and politicians. Let your voice be heard. Here’s how.
- Eat less beef. Not ready to be a vegan? No problem. But know that beef production releases five times the greenhouse gas emissions as other animals and animal products.
- Evaluate your family’s emissions and see what you can change. I checked out this cool (no pun intended) calculator and found some surprises.
- Make your next vehicle a hybrid, an electric, or even better—a bike. As a bonus, each of these will save you money, and maybe even improve your health.
- Compost. Composting is easy and fun—like a science experiment. Less food in the landfills means less stuff turning into methane and contributing to climate change. Also? Your plants will love it.
- Consider supporting carbon taxing. Read more about this innovative plan.
- Talk about it. It might not sound like much, but having discussions with friends, family and other members of our communities can be a stepping stone to change. Brainstorm ideas about what you might be able to do if you worked together.
- Offset your energy use. I just signed up to add $4.95 added to our electric bill every month to help offset our electricity use. Check to see if there’s a similar program where you live.
Let’s do this thing. Let’s walk towards the challenge of climate change instead of burying our heads in the sand.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: elephant journal Instagram.
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren