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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Key COP17 Issues » Climate Action in an Individualistic Age

Climate Action in an Individualistic Age

Can one save the world by planting a tree? Riding a bike? Recycling? Harnessing solar and geothermal energies? What does it take to avoid disastrous climate change? Bill McKibben, a famous climate change activist and author of the book Eaarth, even argues that the world we live on now is a completely different place than it was fifty, even thirty years ago. It is a new “Eaarth,” to what used to be “Earth.” By presenting this new idea of Eaarth, McKibben shows how already, climate change has altered our world, and now, we face the challenge of mitigating and ultimately, adapting to this change.

In its paper, “How To Save the Climate,” Greenpeace cites the Stern Report, which says that action to reduce anthropogenic contributions to climate change must be a collective effort, including the various actors of policy, individuals, corporations and industry (Greenpeace, “How To Save the Climate”). Not one of these facets of change can overcome the challenge of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Humans most definitely can, as Greenpeace argues, begin to live in more “climate friendly” ways. Of course, it is necessary for individuals to hone their skills for climate-friendly living. Yes, reduce emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. Limit human “needs” and consumption and finally understand that maybe less really is more. Less petroleum, less pesticides, less meat, and less television can actually contribute to less carbon in the atmosphere.

But humans would be foolish to think that small changes in action, like refusing to drive a gas-guzzling car or no longer consuming bananas imported from 2,000 miles away can prevent the earth from heading for climate disaster. Eaarth is already here; both small, individualized actions and larger, political and industrial changes can make a world of difference.


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