(Photo: Chev Wilkinson/Getty Images)

5 Ways to Turn Apathy Toward Climate Change Into Action

Here’s what to do to limit your carbon emissions and influence others to do the same.
Sep 24, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

When it comes to climate change, it’s easy to talk about it, listen to the latest predictions about global doom, and worry, worry, worry. But what can we do besides recycle, reduce, and reuse?

Take to the streets, for one thing. In New York on Sunday, more than 310,000 people, joined by many thousands more around the world, marched to demand action from individuals, states, countries, and corporations.

Here are a few things you can do to turn apathy into action.

1. Take a Good Hard Look at Your Carbon Footprint

Instead of just guessing what it takes to reduce your personal carbon emissions, know exactly what you and your household are responsible for and what you can change. Everything from the size of your home, the efficiency of your appliances, how much you drive or fly, what you eat, and how much you recycle can make a big difference in your personal carbon footprint.

Online calculators at Nature.org and Conservation.org can help you understand what your carbon footprint looks like.

2. Do These Things Now to Limit Your Carbon Emissions

Now that you have a handle on your personal carbon spew, figure out where you can reduce emissions.

At home, change lights to energy-efficient bulbs, replace power-hungry appliances, insulate your home to reduce heating and air-conditioning costs, consume food that doesn’t require as much transportation, and eat less meat, which has a significantly higher carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables.

For work, switch to public transportation, carpooling, or biking for your commute.

3. Join an Environmental Group at the Front Lines

Many groups are advocating for climate change. Here are a few to look into.

350.org

The group is named for the maximum amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere scientists believe is the safe limit—350 parts per million. (We’re now at about 400 parts per million). With its worldwide reach—350.org has built activist communities in 188 countries—the organization has taken the lead in protesting local issues, such as ending coal power plants in India and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States.

Union of Concerned Scientists

The group was originally concerned with nuclear proliferation but has shifted to environmental sustainability and climate change. It now works to “develop and implement innovative, practical solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing problems—from combating global warming and developing sustainable ways to feed, power, and transport ourselves, to fighting misinformation and reducing the threat of nuclear war,” according to the group’s website.

Sierra Club

Founded by conservationist John Muir in 1892, the club has evolved from a nature appreciation society into one of the most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the U.S. With 64 local chapters nationwide, the group has worked to protect more than 250 million acres of land and get more than 160 coal-fired power plants retired.

These are just a few of the many groups out there. There are plenty more.

4. Use Your Wallet

As consumers, the choices we make in what we buy can have a big effect on the climate, so select products that promote a carbon-free future. How? You can start by downloading the smartphone app Buycott, which helps you organize your spending to help causes that you care about and to oppose those that you don’t.

5. Get the Kids Involved

They’re the ones we’re leaving this mess to, and we should be preparing them now for a cleaner future. At school, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s student guide to climate change can help children grasp the critical issues, such as what’s causing the planet’s temperature to rise and what they can do to help.