Reflections on Climate Change Part 3: What you can do!

If you haven't already, check out part 1 and part 2 of our three-part series drawing conclusions about climate change after the Climate Odyssey project. This is part three in which Zion reflects on the best ways to take action to prevent catastrophic consequences from climate change! 

Push locally to adapt

Efforts to prepare communities for the increasing impacts of climate change do not need to be top-down from the state or federal level, nor do they need to be headed by scientists or those who know all the details of climate change.  Even if we don’t know exactly the timing and exact numbers, we do know what the relative changes are.  We know sea levels are rising, and that the rate of this rise is increasing.  Weather is intensifying, creating more intense downpours, hotter heat waves, and more rapid changes week-to-week, putting intense hot next to intense cold.  Storms are becoming more extreme; as are droughts, and combined this is making life difficult for ecosystems on land and in the seas. As members of local communities, it is in our interest, our family’s interest, and the interest of those we work and live around to be better prepared for the changes that have begun and are intensifying. 

As a society, reactive decision-making is common-place after the storm or drought hits, but proactive decision-making is what will ultimately save the most lives, money, and hardship as the impacts of climate change speed up. Using recent severe weather events, when explained in the context of their increasing likelihood under climate change, can be a visceral rallying-point on which to gain local support emotionally and financially. Working locally to encourage proactive decision-making can be tough, since funds are always limited, and election cycles often mean government action is focused on short-term gains.  But planning programs at the local-level do exist and can provided the basis for envisioning and financing the changes need. With persistence and enhanced local understanding of the gains that can be achieved, more proactive decision-making can be encouraged and supported within our communities.

Push nationally to support global mitigation of carbon emissions

Dealing with the human-caused carbon pollution in our global atmosphere is no easy task, but it is essential if we want to stop climate change and remove the increasingly expensive requirement for our communities to continually adapt into the future. Without global action to reduce and reverse carbon emissions, we will never reach stability in our economy, ecosystems, or communities.  To achieve this, we need to change public opinion on the benefits and drawbacks of fossil fuel use.  Our society is currently built around fossil fuels and they provide numerous positive aspects to our lives from transportation, electricity, and warmth. But without some type of direct accounting for their negative aspects as well, we will continue to overuse them at our own unseen expense.  Individual and organized support for national and international programs that encourage carbon-neutral energy sources is required. 

We all share the same atmosphere, so unless we as a world can collectively reduce emissions through investments in alternative energies paired with economic programs that reflect the true costs of fossil fuels, we will continue to expand the threat climate change posses to us all.  As individuals we need to force government action through our vote, our voice, and our dollar.  Corruption and self-interest is inherent in government, but our democratic systems that represent the public interest can still succeed if enough people push for the mitigation of carbon emissions throughout enough nations in our shared world.

Educate and inspire others

The decision to support both local adaption and global mitigation of climate change is a combination of both a cognitive understanding of the science AND an emotional engagement with the issue. Without either of those, the behavior of individuals will not change.  Climate Odyssey is an example of this cognitive-emotional overlap that hopes to engage people with art, then change understanding through embedded science.  As individuals we can all find ways to connect with others we meet day-to-day to engage and inform them about climate change.  We can also use our skills to reach others through our own contributions to social and mass media via print and online exchange, similar again to how the Climate Odyssey pieces were designed.  Everyone brings there own set of abilities when it comes to inspiring and educating others, and however we each decide to do it, the more we can engage and inform others, the faster we, as a globe, can alter this scary path that we have created for ourselves.

Thanks for reading! We're getting SO close to wrapping up the Climate Odyssey artists' books and interactive map. I'll get those out as soon as possible.