What do you think is the biggest challenge facing humanity today? There are so many ways to answer this question, and so many big, important challenges: poverty, education, income inequality, racial injustice, and many others. Different people will of course have different answers to this question and may make personal choices that will impact one or many of these problems. To me, by far the most urgent and vexing challenge facing humanity today is climate change. My concern with climate change is that we may be pushed to a realm in which the possibility of addressing any other problem becomes obsolete. If climate change takes away our ability to grow food to feed the earth’s population, causes droughts that prevent us from from continuing economic activity and destroys our homes so that we have nowhere left to live, then how can we be expected to address any of the other issues we face? Climate change strikes me as a unique problem because of its vastness. It is a problem that is occurring both on a long time scale, and across the entire vastness of the earth; it the opposite of a local event. While individual choices matter deeply for driving us towards climate change and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, any one person’s lifestyle choices will not move the needle on climate change.
Given these challenges, how can we address climate change, as individuals, companies or government agencies? This question is what this blog will seek to explore. Given the vastness of climate change, how much impact can one individual expect to have on carbon emissions? What level of sacrifice in convenience is required to reduce an individuals carbon emissions by 10%? 25%? 50%? What does it mean to consume sustainably? How can we change our economy to move away from purchasing new things being the driver of economic growth, and what does that economy look like? As consumers, what should we demand of the companies from which we buy our possessions? What does a sustainable business practice really look like? And what kinds of action on the part of government would have the greatest impact on global climate change? What should we as citizens ask of our representatives?
The goal of this blog will be to provide guidance on both what individual choices are worth prioritizing, and why. I’ll do so by trying to make changes in my own life and document how it goes, what was hard, what was easy and in the end, how much it matters. I’ll also be trying out various avenues to impact policy and where possible, to influence decision making at local institutions such as governments, non-profits or companies. I’ll try to describe the practical reality of the barriers and successes I encounter in the process. My goal will be to incorporate both my personal experiences as well as academic research into these topics into posts spanning a variety of topics related to conservationism and economics of climate change. I want to educate myself about the best ways to take action, but I hope that I will also be able to show what kinds of lifestyle changes are possible (and realistic), and provide guidance for others who may want to take action as well.