Here's how you can actually help stop climate change

Posted by K R on

Soaring temperatures, melting ice caps, diseases on the rise. With such high stakes, it’s not surprising that climate change tends to trigger a sense of fear. In fact, one recent, widely-shared story about climate change in New York Magazine opens with the words, “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” “The article paints a bleak picture,” says Seth Wynes, a researcher in the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia. “I think it’s important to realize that we have a lot of choice in the planet that we want to have future generations inheriting. Even if we’ve missed the ideal scenario, which is no climate warming—because we're already locked into some climate warming—we have a much better future in store for us if we act quickly and make significant changes.” Some researchers suggest that we have just a few years to start fighting global warming in earnest if we want to avoid the worst effects. Of course, this raises the question of what it means to act quickly against climate change—especially on a personal level. At the end of the day, it all comes down to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide when we burn fossil fuels like coal—or when the cattle that get turned into burgers fart. When those emissions enter the atmosphere, they trap the sun’s heat, warming the planet. It’s basic physics. The increased heat can become catastrophic by melting the polar ice caps, raising sea levels, and creating weather patterns that are less predictable, more volatile, and more dangerous. Because we’ve been warming the planet this way since the early days of the industrial revolution, we can’t completely avoid the effects of climate change. But by lowering our emissions now, we can avoid the worst effects. According to Wynes, co-author (along with Kimberly Nicholas of Sweden’s Lund University) of a new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the four actions that create the most bang for your emissions-reducing buck are ones most of us avoid: having fewer children; living without a car; avoiding transatlantic flights; and eating a plant-based (mostly vegetarian) diet. Read More: Popular Science

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