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The Not-So-Small Climate Actions

Posted by Madeline Ostrander at Oct 01, 2009 01:50 PM |

Climate change is really, really big. Do our small actions matter? YES! staff gets personal about climate change on our blogs.

For the next two months, the editors at YES! are trying to swallow the elephant that is the global climate crisis. We’re planning a winter issue on climate change, and imagining what it will take to get the world below the breaking point of a two-degree-Celsius global temperature rise. How will we get our political leaders moving? How will we create mass cultural and economic change?

When facing something so large, it’s easy to feel like the small events of our lives, the little things we do to “walk our talk,” are pretty measly. Our cartoonist’s solar shower, the organic garden we recently planted next to our office, our bike and bus rides, the apple core I just dropped in the worm compost bin behind our office door—these things all seem incommensurate with a problem so big it’s melting the glaciers off of Mount Rainier.

We all inherently feel it’s important to live in integrity with our environmental values. It’s not that we can solve the whole problem through small, personal actions. (How often have right-wingers jabbed at Al Gore’s carbon footprint, as if solving the climate crisis were as simple as weatherizing Gore’s house?)

But changing our lives helps us imagine that bigger changes are possible. As we talk about those changes, we invite others to imagine what else they can do, to go deeper, to turn our personal actions into a movement. We’re on the cusp of major climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, and we’ll all have to do a lot more to build political will, both here and internationally, if we want climate policies to succeed in charting a safer course for humanity. But Malcolm Gladwell’s now-classic book on social innovation, The Tipping Point, tells us that social epidemics start with the actions of a few people.

So for the next couple weeks, YES! staff will be writing a series of blogs on the things each of us is doing to confront the climate crisis. We’ll talk about how we’re making our lives more sustainable, and how we’re stepping up and making our personal and political actions contagious among the people we know.

We hope the blog will inspire you to do the same—make a pact with your neighbor to give up your car, call your Senator about the climate bill (even if you’ve never dialed up the Capitol switchboard before), talk to your friends about climate change as often as you tell them about football or your kids.

Climate change isn’t going away, and the solutions will require work from all of us in ways large and small. Our blog series will explore those actions.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

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