The Earth's got a fever. And the only prescription is less carbon.
Parks are often a cure for what ails us at home. But actions at home can also cure what ails our parks!
Climate change—though serious—is ultimately solvable. There are many positive actions we can take now to lessen our greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of people, parks, and our planet. Most are simple. All are sensible. And some might even be surprising!
Research shows people often don’t broach the topic of climate change because they wrongly underestimate others’ level of interest on the topic. And because that perception is often reciprocal, there is a recognized “spiral of silence” around climate change. So starting a conversation about the issue is one of the most powerful actions you can take! (Side benefit: personal conversations can lead to BIG ideas, such as this.)
LED lighting, smart thermostats, and high-efficiency appliances can help us use energy wisely. Turning off unnecessary lights, adjusting your thermostat slightly, and washing laundry in cold water are simple ways to keep money in your pocket, protect night skies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Side benefit: maximizing efficiency has been the secret to success for some!)
Plant-based diets have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than those heavy in animal protein. Every serving of meat and dairy you replace with whole, plant-based foods lessens your global impact and can improve your overall health. (Side benefit: plants are very versatile and provide all the protein you need. Right, Doctor?)
Most of us spend the majority of our time within five miles of our homes. So for shorter trips, consider taking a walk or riding a bike. Doing so improves your health, improves the air quality in your community, and reduces your carbon footprint. (Side benefit: you might be surprised how far you can get without a car. Just look what these two did!)
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you have a HUGE opportunity to lessen your carbon footprint. Prioritizing the purchase of a fuel efficient or hybrid vehicle can save you thousands of dollars over years of ownership. Fully electric vehicles provide additional benefits, including less engine noise, more torque, and eligibility for some rebate programs. (Side benefit: if you drive an electric vehicle, the Wizard of Menlo Park would be impressed!)
Not every good solution needs to be “high-tech”! Trees are nature’s original carbon capture device, and so much more! They provide important habitat for wildlife, shade against warmer temperatures, and improve property values. (Side benefit: planting a sapling is a great homage to tree-huggers from the past.)
Where possible, use your power as a consumer to promote climate-smart products and practices. Purchasing sustainable products, buying renewable energy from your local utility, and installing solar arrays all provide immediate benefits to the consumer. Such purchases also help bring costs down for others, and send business a clear signal about consumer preference for climate-smart goods. (Side benefit: being deliberate about where your dollars go can influence monumental change!)
Everything we buy—including food—has an environmental cost. Carbon is emitted at every step of production, delivery, use, and—ultimately—disposal. Avoid buying unnecessary or single-use items in favor of reusable essentials. Plan meals carefully to avoid food waste. And consider selling, donating, or composting items you can no longer use. (Side benefit: you’ll be part of the #DontFeedTheLandfills movement!)
The national parks we enjoy in the present are physical manifestations of past collective action. Effective climate solutions for our future will require similar mass efforts, so work with your neighbors and communities on broader efforts to address the climate crisis. (Side benefit: working with others toward a common cause continues a great American tradition.)
The race to address climate change is exactly that—a high-stakes race. But like any race, getting to the finish line requires a lot of exercise. So actively exercise your right to expression, your right to representation, and your right to vote. (Side benefit: casting your ballot honors those who struggled tirelessly for change!)
Climate change can negatively impact some in our communities more than most. As we work to address climate change, it’s important we invite all voices to be part of the process. Doing so helps ensure a just, equitable future for all. (Side benefit: ensuring everyone is well-represented keeps you in some very, very good company!)
Last updated: January 16, 2024