We are in a special moment, to say the least. Climate change is both a crisis and an opportunity. There are many ways we can collectively and individually take action. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
1) Plant a tree. We’ve been saying it since at least the ‘70s, and the message is equally urgent now. Trees provide not just beauty but shade, clean air, and to an extent, climate justice. Our most disadvantaged communities tend to be the most treeless, and that can mean a difference of 10 degrees extra heat in the summer for many warming cities, especially in the West.
2) Get e-commerce savvy. Are Amazon boxes piling up around you? Take advantage of delivery days, combine items together when you can, and only order what you need to help reduce the burden of e-commerce on the environment. This not only helps reduce emissions but also lowers pollution in the neighborhoods most impacted by delivery fleets. There are also many easy-to-find neighborhood upcycling and reuse opportunities that may forgo the need to click that purchase button.
3) Reduce vehicle miles traveled. COVID-19 forced us to do this recently, with traffic slashed nearly in half during the first weeks of shelter in place. Let’s keep it up. Public transportation has taken a big hit during the pandemic, as well. We’ll need to find ways to reembrace it, as we also consider safety precautions. And go electric if you can.
4) Eat a "balanced" diet. The meat vs. no-meat argument can run hot and heavy, but balance is a great goal for body and environment. Without animals and the manure they provide, there is no sustainable agriculture. The stronger need is moderation. And scientists are finding innovative ways to reduce emissions from livestock, which shrinks the hoofprint, err, footprint of the industry.
5) Grow something. Our homes, buildings and roads have eaten away habitat from other species. Replace some of it in your corner of the world with flowers and plants that attract bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators and critters. Gardening also can sequester carbon, help you reconnect with the earth and its natural processes, and it can do wonders for your mental health.
Elina L. Niño, an assistant specialist in Cooperative Extension in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, waters her backyard garden in April 2020. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)
6) Diversity and inclusion. We can’t talk climate action without talking climate justice. Disadvantaged, underrepresented communities are on the frontlines of climate change—be it wildfire, extreme heat and even the pandemic. Encourage and advocate for a diversity of voices and backgrounds at the table when decisions are being made in your communities and work places.
7) Check in on your neighbor. What starts as neighborly kindness can make a real difference when a wildfire, pandemic or heat wave takes hold. Build community relationships and check up on each other for climate resilience and basic human decency.
8) Support prescribed burns. We have both a climate change problem and a forest management problem contributing to wildfires. One of several reasons for a lack of prescribed burns is a public distaste for them—and the smoke they intentionally create. Let your representatives know you support such measures so we can better handle the wildfires exacerbated by a hotter, drier present and future.
A fire fighter oversees a prescribed fire. (Getty)
9) Vote. Just vote. If you want to see climate action, vote for people who support science and climate action.
10) Subscribe to season 2 of the UC Davis Unfold podcast for more inspiration and ideas for climate action at ucdavis.edu/unfold. (Full disclosure, I’m a co-host with host Amy Quinton, and yes, I think you should hear us and the amazing experts we interview!)
For even more ideas, check out our original list from 2019, “18 Simple Things You Can Do About Climate Change.”
Kat Kerlin is an environmental science writer and media relations specialist at UC Davis. She’s the editor the “What Can I Do About Climate Change?” blog. @UCDavis_Kerlin