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As we press through the hottest summer ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s difficult to ignore the reality that Earth’s climate is at a crossroads.
Experts say that in one direction lies a future that continues the trends we’ve experienced firsthand—temperatures reaching new highs and lows, weather patterns shifting and growing less predictable, and natural disasters becoming more frequent and powerful.
In the other direction, however, lies a future where the course is corrected, and ecosystems and biodiversity remain unthreatened by an upended environment.
But how do we get there? Simply put, we need to curb human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report, emissions have reached their highest levels in human history. They stated that we are nearing a tipping point, a threshold that once crossed will make abating the worst impacts to our environment all the more challenging.
That’s problematic. Especially when the World Resources Institute’s 2022 State of Climate Action report shows that what we’re currently doing isn’t making a big enough impact to remedy the situation. In fact, the World Meteorological Organization reported that greenhouse gas emissions have risen in recent years and continue to do so.
But it’s not hopeless. Our fate is not sealed.
Resigning to a doom and gloom mindset never served anyone well, and the apocalyptic visions that once made for eye-catching headlines have seemingly, over time, become another cry for wolf lost in the cacophony of social fire drills and political contention.
The truth is this—a lot is at stake.
Climate change is something to make noise about. But trumpeting it as tomorrow’s cataclysm will only cause more and more people to tune it out and turn away from doing the things that will get the environment back on track.
It’s important for the masses to know that climate change’s impact won’t become apparent overnight. We are in a “boiling frog” situation, perhaps more literally than we’d like to believe. And just as importantly, they need to know that we can make a difference without derailing our lives. We just need to be willing to make small, incremental changes to our day-to-day, and we need to be willing to start making those changes now.
So, what changes must occur today to fight climate change practically and effectively in the short and long haul?
A lot of it comes down to acting on three key endeavors: reducing the amount of waste generated; optimizing the way resources are used; and supporting organizations, technologies, and practices that drive environmental sustainability. And interestingly enough, it all starts on an incredibly small scale—with the average individual.
If we as individuals chase these three pursuits at home, at work, and in our communities, they will inevitably cascade into massive changes on nearly every level of society from the pillars of industry to the halls of government to the mass buying power of fellow consumers.
As Deloitte Insights says in their May 2021 article Leading in a Low-Carbon Future, “The global economy is being remade, and every business, government, organization and individual has a role to play in accelerating this transition.”
Still, what are the steps that can be taken to get the ball rolling?