For months, #45 has been deliberating about whether to stay or leave the Paris Agreement. Even if he decides to stay, he has already deeply undercut the US’s ability to uphold our commitments. His executive orders rescinding the Clean Power Plan, automotive efficiency standards, and threats to undercut California’s clean air waiver point to a pernicious disregard for human and environmental health.
The timing for this backwards leadership could not be worse. It is possible that we have already passed the critical juncture where we could have limited the damage from climate change by reducing our emissions. Instability in the Antarctic ice sheet suggests that the melting of reflective ice in the poles may be proceeding at a faster rate than had been originally anticipated, spinning into a feedback loop of accelerating global warming. The signs of precariousness for our species abound. Name a species or ecosystem, and you will find it is embattled–even insects have experienced significant declines. The moment for powerful leadership to prevent crisis came and went years ago, and we now find ourselves at the precipice with a leader who seems compelled to push us into the abyss.
Powerless as we seem, we still may have a shot at keeping ourselves from going over the edge. In addition to political and protest actions like the Science and Climate marches held last month, we have the simple power of our wallets. How we each choose to act, and what we buy (or refuse to buy) is the ultimate driver of both climate change and political calculus.
2 Year Carbon Diet
So here we are. We still have 3.5 years to go before we can expect any change in the leadership vacuum on this topic. At the current pace of climate change acceleration, that simply won’t be soon enough. And even if it were, we need to send a powerful message about whether CO2 reduction is even possible in a world with 7 billion people and growing.
This is the moment, right now, to make the sacrifice, and to do something.
What if everyone on the planet who had the luxury to do so—especially all of us wealthy Americans, conscientiously spent 2 years living in such a way as to reduce our personal CO2 generation by half?
We know the big generators of greenhouse gasses. We do have the power to reduce them. Here’s what it would take:
- Reduce air travel by half
- Reduce driving by half
- Reduce KWH (kilowatt hours of electricity) used by half
- Reduce consumption of animal products by half… or, if you are already a vegan, reduce your consumption of rain forest-based products (exotic oils such as palm oil and coconut oil, chocolate, coffee, tea) by half
- Reduce plastic use by half.
If we were ever going to try to do this, now would be the time. We know exactly how to do it. This stuff seems like it doesn’t matter, but if enough of us did it, it would matter tremendously. It would show that we do have the power to care, to collectivize, and to defend the future. It would show policy makers and corporations that they will not be rewarded for pushing back clean air standards, by externalizing the costs of production, of valuing profits over people.
What do you think? Could you sign onto this pledge? Would you, could you? For the grand kids? For the Great Barrier Reef? For the future of life on earth?
Let me know in the comments, or on social media at #2yrCO2.