The United Nations published the Sixth Assessment Report on the climate by the International Panel on Climate Change[^1] . The report described a code red for humanity and that there is no going back[^2] . Unless society can reduce its carbon emissions to zero, the extreme weather humanity has been experiencing the past few years will continue to intensify. This report serves as a call to action for each of us to take responsibility and enact changes. So the questions become what I can do to help stop climate change?
Use a Carbon Emissions Calculator
Just like counting calories or using a step-counter helps you make better choices, the same goes with emissions. Use a carbon emissions calculator to learn what your carbon footprint looks like and take steps to curb your emissions. According to the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, the average American household generates 48 tons of carbon emissions per year[^3] . Two good carbon footprint calculators are from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the Nature Conservatory.
Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Food makes up 10 to 30 percent[^3] of the average household carbon emissions. Eating meat is one of the highest emission-creating foods at 6.61 pounds[^3] of emissions for a single serving. In comparison, eating vegetables, rice, and legumes create less the .16 pounds of carbon emissions per serving. Eating a plant-based diet can dramatically cut your carbon footprint. Even switching to one vegetarian meal per week is the equivalent of not driving 1.160 miles[^4].
Switch to Solar Power
25% of all carbon emissions come from electricity[^5]. The average kilowatt of electricity generated in the United States of America creates .953 pounds of carbon emissions. Solar, wind, and hydropower produce no emissions and are a great way to reduce carbon emissions. Converting your home to an all-electric home using roof-mounted solar panels is a great way to cut your carbon emissions. Also, converting all your appliances and water heaters from gas to electric can make a big difference.
Till January 1, 2023, you can get a 26% Federal tax credit[^9] on the cost of a new solar system and cut your carbon emissions in the process. Sun Power or Tesla are both excellent options and provide free estimates.
Switch from Gas to an Electric Car
Transportation makes up 29%[^5] of total carbon emissions, with passenger cars making up 41%[^3]. Switching from a gas to an electric vehicle is a great way to help stop climate change. Electric Driver can show you how an electric car can reduce your carbon emissions and save you time and money in the process. Beyond electric vehicles, stop flying, walk more and use a bike when possible. Each decision can help make a difference in the fight to get carbon emissions down to zero.
Get the Most Out of Your Things
According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, all the stuff we own contributes 60%[^6] of all global greenhouse gases. Try to squeeze the most life out of all the things you own. When you decide to buy something, educate yourself. Try to buy things that were responsibly made. Look at how much carbon emissions were made in the production of the product. Vote with your money.
Invest in Sustainable Businesses
Vote with your money to bring about change. Buy from companies that make the right choices and work to cut emissions and operate in an environmentally responsible fashion. For example, most of us have our retirement tied to the stock market. So look into the businesses in your portfolio and invest in companies that bring about positive environmental change. Move your money away from companies that pollute and cause ecological harm.
Cut Plastics Out of Your Life
Plastics are made of oil which is a fossil fuel. Using plastics fills up our landfills and encourages oil production. According to the Center for Environmental Law, if we continue to use plastics at our current rate by 2030, plastics will generate 1.34 gigatons[^7] of emissions annually. For example, 1.34 gigatons of carbon emissions are equivalent to 295 500 megaton coal plants. Being mindful and eliminating single-use plastics can help curb carbon emissions.
Trees can help capture carbon, and we should each take it upon ourselves to plant more trees. An international research team, led by Jean-Francois Bastin of ETH-Zurich in Switzerland, determined if we could plant another half a trillion trees, we could reduce global carbon emissions by 25%[^8]. Therefore, planting more trees at home
is another measure to help stop climate.
Awareness and education will go a long way in making better decisions regarding your carbon footprint. An easy way to get up to speed on climate education is to sign-up for a free course online. Ed-X has free online courses from universities around the course you can take to get up to speed. To sum up, educating yourself is a crucial step to making better choices in helping combat climate change.
[^1]: “Ar6 Climate Change 2021:the Physical Science Basis.” Sixth Assessment Report, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/.
[^2]: Irfan, Umair, and Rebecca Leber. “The Devastating New UN Report on Climate Change, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 9 Aug. 2021, www.vox.com/22613027/un-ipcc-climate-change-report-ar6-disaster.
[^3]: “Carbon Footprint Factsheet.” Carbon Footprint Factsheet | Center for Sustainable Systems, css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet.
[^4]: Weber , Christopher L, and Scott H. Matthews. “Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States.” ACS Publications, Environmental Science & Technology, www.pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/es702969f.
[^5]: “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions.
[^6]: Ivanova, Diana, et al. “Environmental Impact Assessment of Household Consumption.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 18 Dec. 2015, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jiec.12371.
[^7]: “Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a PLASTIC PLANET.” Center for International Environmental Law, 25 Sept. 2020, www.ciel.org/project-update/plastic-climate-the-hidden-costs-of-a-plastic-planet/.
[^8]: “Examining the Viability of Planting Trees to Help Mitigate Climate Change – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, 11 Nov. 2019, climate.nasa.gov/news/2927/examining-the-viability-of-planting-trees-to-help-mitigate-climate-change/.
[^9]: “Federal Tax Credit for Residential Solar Energy.” TurboTax Tax Tips & Videos, TurboTax, 7 Aug. 2021, turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/going-green/federal-tax-credit-for-solar-energy/L7s9ZiB4D.