How can you take action on climate change?
Rebecca Wells discusses the ways in which we can all take action against climate change, individually and collectively.
It has been debated that one of the largest barriers to tackling the climate crisis is the disengagement from the issue on the behalf of the concerned many. Climate anxiety can manifest itself in many ways which vary between individuals, but often ends with the inaction of the person in question due to a perceived inevitable doom that is the state of the world.
Whilst the argument against this is true; that being the fact that the greatest threat to the natural world is the 100 companies which emit over 70% of CO2 emissions, individual inaction caused by climate anxiety can negatively affect the mental health of those who feel scared, yet ineffectual.
One week ago, Atmos magazine posted an Instagram thread entitled “We asked four climate leaders for advice” and asked the question of how they dealt with climate anxiety.
Finding local protests or action groups to volunteer with on the weekends can connect you with like-minded people and remind you that you are not alone.
All of these answers focused on individual action and how best to deal with personal feelings of guilt. Interestingly however, one thing which was only scraped upon was collective action. One major barrier to overcoming climate anxiety is feeling isolated and alone. Finding local protests or action groups to volunteer with on the weekends can connect you with like-minded people and remind you that you are not alone.
More than this, by doing something small and often, you give yourself the chance to ignore intrusive thoughts centering around your uselessness and apathy. You may realise that many others feel the same way and coming together, even just for a chat and a coffee will produce a support group which can lead to further tangible action.
Individual action can spark collective dialogue, which is how change occurs.
The advent of social media has made it easier than ever to sign petitions online. Change.org and the like publish hundreds of petitions and many focus on the state of the natural world. In three taps you can add your signature virtually. With the knowledge that it actually only takes 100,000 signatures for a petition to be raised for discussion in parliament, every signature really does matter. For perspective, Wembley stadium can fit 90% of those people. Engaging with discourse on social media is highly productive also from the perspective of finding new resources and new events to attend online. Everyone scrolls on social media, so following positive-news focused climate accounts may be beneficial.
We can buy all the metal straws and reusable cotton pads we want, and we should, but further actionable change needs to be transferred into your own politics in order for change to take place on a more tangible scale. Engage in climate discourse with family members and friends who may seem disengaged, and remember to educate yourself first so you can get the most out of the conversation as possible. Maybe even try watching a punchy climate crash course video on YouTube before entering such a dialogue, like this one by Matt Miltonberger.
Individual action can spark collective dialogue, which is how change occurs. There is never a reason to think that there is no use in speaking about an issue, as the worst that could happen is that the recipient doesn’t listen, but you need to give them the chance to hear you out first.