The good news on climate change

The truth is that we, you and me and everybody else, are causing climate change. We all know this. But we have a tendency to believe that our day-to-day activities don’t matter, because, well, it is only one little thing. We bought the LED lightbulbs and separate out our recycling so let the government take care of the rest.

In reality every single decision we make helps or hinders. I can’t afford to put solar panels on my house or buy a Tesla or Prius, but I can try to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. And most of those changes come with unexpected benefits.

Every time you walk or bike somewhere instead of driving you are helping. You are also helping yourself with exercise and saving money on gas. It might not be a lot, but it adds up.

Every time you bring along a reusable water bottle instead of buying a bottle of water you keep a little more plastic out of the oceans and landfills. And you save money.

Every time you shop locally, that is one more item that doesn’t need to be wrapped in packaging and flown across the country. And the benefits are myriad. Your money goes to local businesses that hire local people and keep the money circulating instead of going to Jeff Bezos. Equally important is that you are acting as a member of the community.

Climate change is a lot like cigarette smoking. We all knew that sucking toxic smoke into our lungs and then expelling it for someone else to breathe was unhealthy. But it seemed like all of the beautiful and sophisticated people were doing it. Tobacco companies spent a fortune assuring us that everything would be fine, just like the oil industry is doing now. Eventually the truth became unavoidable and smoking was banned in all public places. Smoking rates plummeted and so did cancer and emphysema rates. On top of that, ex-smokers realized that all that money they had been spending on cigarettes added up. It costs quite a bit of money to pollute your lungs. And you could taste your food in restaurants.

None of us are eco-saints. I know I have a long way to go. But I have come to understand that everything I do or don’t do matters. So I use a fan instead of air conditioning as much as possible. I keep the heat lower in the winter and put on a sweater. I have stopped purchasing single-serving anything and, guess what? I am healthier and have saved money that I can spend at local businesses.

We are out of time when it comes to climate change. And if we don’t make the small changes now, the big changes to come will be much more painful. Just ask an ex-smoker.

 

Lisa Wright divides her time between her home in Lakeville and Oblong Books and Music in Millerton, where she has worked for nearly 40 years. Email her at wrightales@gmail.com.

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