Climate Change: What Can I Do?

by Daniel Brouse and Sidd Mukherjee
June 22, 2022

Achieving "net zero" is not only accessible but also cost-effective, providing substantial savings while contributing to the preservation of our planet. Here are some practices I've adopted to reach net zero without compromising my standard of living, and, in fact, surpassing it in an effort to eliminate all my pollution. The simplest way to commence this journey is through energy conservation. Be mindful of your energy usage, refrain from unnecessary consumption, turn off devices when not in use, and opt for low-energy products.

  1. Consume less. Consumer habits have played a significant role in damaging the world's environment and economies. The insatiable demands of mass consumption have led to the exploitation of natural resources and the emission of pollution and greenhouse gases. In many instances, it's feasible to choose not to consume certain products entirely. Travel, fashion, and meat are examples of areas where consumption could be minimized. Reducing overall consumption is the most impactful individual contribution towards eliminating pollution and mitigating the effects of climate change. The critical aspect of reducing consumption is to cease burning fossil fuels and using hydrocarbon products immediately. (Hydrocarbons encompass plastics, polymers, petroleum, and natural gas.)
  2. Electricity and heat are leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Food and land use constitute the second-largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Transportation represents the third-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Create a sustainable and climate-resilient environment in and around your home by providing wind breaks, shade, moisture retention, climate control, and preventing soil degradation.
  6. Improve stormwater management, including rain barrels, rain gardens, trees, and permeable pavement all help mitigate the impact of extreme precipitation by reducing the intensity and frequency of flash flooding, as well as, reducing erosion.
  7. Become a shareholder advocate.
  8. Reduce indoor pollution with natural air purifiers, aromatherapy, and indoor forest bathing.
  9. Optimize your diet and health.

* Our climate model employs chaos theory to comprehensively consider human impacts and projects a potential global average temperature increase of 9℃ above pre-industrial levels.

What Can I Do?
All the above are actions you can take to contribute to saving the planet. Each person bears the responsibility to minimize pollution, discontinue the use of fossil fuels, reduce consumption, and foster a culture of love and care. The Butterfly Effect illustrates that a small change in one area can lead to significant alterations in conditions anywhere on the globe. Hence, the frequently heard statement that a fluttering butterfly in China can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic. Be a butterfly and affect the world.

Thank you. My life depends on it.

Unintended Consequences and Inexplicable Consumer Behavior

Climate change is primarily driven by the escalation of thermal energy affecting biogeophysical and socio-economic systems. While biogeophysical factors can be studied using math, physics, and historical records, socio-economic systems pose greater challenges due to the unpredictable consequences of human behavior and inexplicable consumer choices, exacerbating tipping points and feedback loops.

Inexplicable Consumer Behavior

Inexplicable consumer behavior in the face of known consequences of anthropogenic climate change can manifest in various ways. Some examples include:
  1. Excessive Consumption: Despite awareness of the environmental impact of overconsumption, some individuals continue to engage in excessive buying behaviors, contributing to resource depletion, waste generation, and carbon emissions.
  2. Preference for Non-sustainable Products: Despite the availability of sustainable alternatives, some consumers may choose products with high environmental footprints due to perceived convenience, lower cost, or brand loyalty, ignoring the long-term consequences.
  3. Disregard for Energy Efficiency: Despite the availability of energy-efficient appliances and technologies, some consumers may prioritize other factors (e.g., aesthetics, initial cost) over energy savings, leading to higher energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Single-Use Plastic Consumption: Despite widespread knowledge of the detrimental effects of single-use plastics on the environment, some consumers continue to use disposable plastic products excessively, contributing to plastic pollution in oceans and ecosystems.
  5. Inefficient Transportation Choices: Despite awareness of the environmental impact of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, some consumers may prefer inefficient modes of transportation (e.g., driving alone in gas-guzzling vehicles) over sustainable alternatives (e.g., public transit, biking, walking).
  6. Food Waste: Despite understanding the environmental consequences of food waste, some consumers may continue to waste food due to overbuying, improper storage, or disregard for expiration dates, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.
  7. Fast Fashion Consumption: Despite awareness of the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion, including water pollution, chemical usage, and labor exploitation, some consumers continue to support the industry by purchasing cheap, disposable clothing.
  8. Reluctance to Adopt Sustainable Practices: Despite increasing awareness of sustainable living practices (e.g., recycling, composting, reducing meat consumption), some consumers may be resistant to change due to inertia, lack of knowledge, or perceived inconvenience.
These examples illustrate how consumer behavior can sometimes defy logic or go against the imperative of addressing climate change and environmental degradation. Addressing these behaviors often requires a combination of education, policy interventions, market incentives, and societal norms to encourage more sustainable choices.

Unintended Consequences

Some unintended consequences contributing to climate change include:
  1. Increased Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions: Switching to cleaner fuels with lower sulfur content can inadvertently lead to higher CO2 emissions. For example, marine vessels burning cleaner fuels may emit more CO2, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming and climate change.
  2. Deforestation for Biofuel Production: The use of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels can lead to deforestation as forests are cleared to make way for biofuel crops. Deforestation releases stored carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating climate change.
  3. Land Use Change: Converting land for agricultural or urban development alters natural ecosystems, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere. This change in land use can contribute to climate change by reducing the planet's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.
  4. Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Production: Natural gas is often touted as a cleaner alternative to coal; however, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can leak during natural gas extraction, processing, and transportation. Methane emissions contribute to global warming and climate change.
  5. Albedo Effect from Land Use Change: Changes in land cover, such as deforestation or urbanization, can alter the Earth's albedo, or its ability to reflect sunlight. Darker surfaces absorb more heat, leading to increased warming. For example, replacing forests with urban areas can decrease albedo, contributing to local and regional warming.
  6. Feedback Loops: Climate change can trigger feedback loops that further exacerbate warming. For example, melting ice caps reduce the Earth's albedo, leading to more heat absorption and further melting. Similarly, thawing permafrost releases stored methane and carbon dioxide, amplifying greenhouse gas emissions.
These unintended consequences highlight the interconnectedness of human activities and their impacts on the Earth's climate system. Addressing these unintended consequences requires comprehensive strategies that consider the broader environmental and societal implications of policy decisions and technological advancements.

How is All Real Estate at Risk From Climate Change?

Flood Insurance

The Human Induced Climate Change Experiment