Getting started: taking action on climate change

Yesterday, I was watching the weekly webcast of CrankMyChain, a locally-produced “internet TV” show about biking here in Portland. When host Dan Kaufman announced the day’s topic was climate change, I typed a note into the chat room that I write about sustainability, and I got invited to Skype in for a live conversation on the show. It was really fun.

Dan and I got to talking about the ethics of climate change action — specifically, the populations that are under more immediate threat from climate change right now are those in developing/third world countries, who may not possess the resources to assist themselves. So, barring having a multinational task-force (and a multibillion-dollar budget) at your disposal, what can individuals do to help?

It may not seem like choosing paper over plastic at the grocery store — or better yet, carrying your own bags to the store with you — will make much of a difference to people who are losing their water supplies because glaciers are retreating, but we have to be thinking both short- and long-term. Every small, daily action does have an impact, especially when you consider the scale of these green (and not-so-green) habits over a lifetime.

You don’t have to be a scientist, a politician or even an activist to take action. There are plenty of volunteer and educational opportunities for getting involved — just surf over to to see what’s happening this coming Saturday. And take into account your own natural skills and talents.

As an example, Dan Kaufman is a cyclist and runs this weekly webcast, so he uses that platform and forum for starting a conversation and exchanging ideas with others. I’m a writer, so I blog and writer articles. If you’re an artist, you can start incorporating recycled materials into your work. If you’re an athlete, look for sustainably made gear and athletic wear, or stage an athletic event to help raise awareness. If you home-school your kids, take your students on nature walks to teach them about sustainable eco systems.

There is absolutely something that every one of us can do — to learn more, to get involved, to help educate…. to become part of a sustained solution.

I’ve been fond of a particular quote from Arthur Ashe, so here it is again:

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe


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