I don’t normally watch award shows but boy am I glad I made an exception for the Oscars this year. I hardly remember who won but I certainly remember Chris Rock’s race and equality commentary, Vice President Biden’s message about and Lady Gaga’s performance about sexual assault and Leonardo DiCaprio’s acceptance speech turned climate change call to action.
For many reasons, we are often led to believe that individuals cannot bring about change, that we must wait for elected officials to put in place the policies that will address the problem. But here is the thing: elected officials will do the work that we the people demand of them. It’s their job. And if they don’t do it, we need to hold them accountable.
Of course, that is easier said than done. But if we continue to exercise our right to be heard by speaking up about issues that matter to us, it will become harder for those in power to ignore us.
And that is why I was so motivated by Leo’s speech, and his call to action that “we” do something.
“We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity…”
So how do we do that? Well, there are a few things and they’re not as hard as you would think. Step 1: Get informed
The first step is to educate yourself on the effects of climate change and the largest contributing factors. Watch documentaries, listen to NPR, follow environmental organizations on Facebook and Twitter, read articles and attend local events. The more you immerse yourself in the reality of climate change, the more dedicated to the cause you will become.
If you live in the Portland area, you can attend an event on Tuesday, March 8 titled “A Better Way Forward: Portland’s Climate Action“. It is hosted by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and will focus on the City/County Climate Action Plan, with an emphasis on implementation of the plan’s goals. Registration is free but required.
Watch this video put together by Climate 350, an organization dedicated to building a grassroots climate movement all around the world. It’s a two-minute video that perfectly frames the reason why I am writing this post. Then sign up for their e-newsletter so you can get ongoing information.
Organize or participate in a discussion group from the Northwest Earth Institute. The courses were created primarily for the work place and involve reading a collection of short stories each week to facilitate discussion. My favorites are Seeing Systems and Hungry For Change.
For a list of more suggestions, visit my Resources page.
Step 2: Make your voice heard
Once you’ve educated yourself, it’s time to start making your voice heard. Knowing about the issues isn’t enough. That’s why I started this blog, so I can spread what I know about saving our planet with all of you and inspire you to make change. Here are a few other ways you can spread the message:
Vote for elected officials who, like Leo said so eloquently, “do not speak for the big polluters, the big corporations.” Instead, attend local debates and informational sessions with candidates and ask them questions about how they plan to reduce carbon emissions. Then, vote for the person with the best answer and the proven environmental track record.
Write to your local legislators urging them to support bills like the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill that recently passed. To make the task easier, many organizations will offer language you can use when writing or emailing.
Join a protest. It’s hard to ignore a bunch of people standing outside of a building with signs and loud voices. This is on my bucket list for 2016.
Stop investing in climate change by avoiding investments in the top 200 fossil fuel producers and instead invest in climate solutions like clean energy, sustainable agriculture, local business and more. You can learn more here or by talking to your financial representative.
Step #3: Walk the talk
Now that you’ve taken steps to make your voice heard, don’t forget that actions you take every day also matter in the fight against climate change. No matter where you live, how much money you make or how much time you have, you can start somewhere. Many of the habits I’ve adopted are a direct result of this desire to practice what I preach, and while there is always room for improvement, I am proud of the steps I have taken to reduce my consumption of resources.
Riding the bus more, adding efficient features to our house, reducing waste, recycling more, growing my own food, maintaining a healthy diet, only buying what I need, reducing my energy use and many more things that not only reduce my environmental impact but that also save me money and protect my health.
So there you have it, ways that you CAN make a difference in the fight against climate change. What do you think, are you up for the challenge? I sure hope so, because future generations depend on us.
Have you tried any of these things? Are there any of these that are of particular interest to you? Or that you want to try but seem too difficult or time consuming? Did I miss anything important? I’d love to hear from you.