What Can I Do About Climate Change TODAY?
What can I do about things that are happening RIGHT NOW (Acutely)?
- Climate change is here, and is happening. It’s too late to stop it, so we have to learn to withstand it as best we can.
- Don’t engage with climate change deniers — it’ll just frustrate you. They’re either going to come around on their own or face the consequences.
- The over-arching climate problem is chronic, like heart disease, but the symptoms are manifesting acutely, like a fever or cough.
- Protesting and voting are essential, but they’re like chemotherapy. They’re not going to address acute problems. They may not even address chronic problems. Politics may even make the situation worse. The change that happens via protesting/voting is so incremental that suggesting they’re the ‘best way forward’ makes people feel disempowered.
- Doing the usual (“more efficient lightbulbs!” “buy a hybrid car!”) often only applies to those who have the resources/time to make those changes. And, again, not going to help with acute climate change symptoms.
- All of the same applies to donating to Climate Justice orgs. It’s great, do it if you can, but the change is incremental and not everybody is privileged enough to be able to do so.
So, what can you do right now (“right now” being relative)?
- Do or find a simple “climate impact assessment” for your house/neighborhood/city/region. (Instructions below.)
- Learn one edible plant that grows near you in the wild, and one way to prepare it. Learn what’s going to happen to the plants and animals in your area based on climate.
- Stockpiling consumables is great, but consider small investments in small preparedness tools (LifeStraw, etc.).
- Will you be Too Hot? Learn how to get cooler by studying traditional methods. Make a plan for evacuation if you’re in a fire-prone area. Fireproof your surroundings as much as possible.
- Will you be Too Dry? Learn how to collect water from your landscape. Learn how to conserve it in your house/living space. Look into xeriscaping, find drought-tolerant plants, many of which are edible.
- Will you be Too Cold? Learn how to get warmer by studying traditional methods.
- Will you be Too Wet? If you’re on the coast, investigate sea level rise and how it may impact you. Will you one day need to leave? If not, are you in a flood zone? What about erosion/mudslides?
- Will you be Too Crowded? If you’re in an area that will be less impacted than others, you may see climate refugees. Where will they come from? Are there local organizations who can help them?
Doing even ONE of these things will help you be more prepared to withstand the potentially uncomfortable future.
How to do a Basic Climate Change Impact Assessment
These are all relatively easy questions to answer once you know how to look. This assessment can be done in a couple of hours by searching online. The final version of this series will include methods for looking up all of this info.
Try to be as objective as possible when collecting this information. This is not the stage at which you’re going to start finding solutions. This is a fact-finding mission.
- Where in the world do you live?
- What’s your local weather situation/average rainfall/average temperatures? What will happen if those are more extreme by a factor of ten? What about a factor of one hundred?
- Are you near water that could rise due to either flooding or sea level rise?
- Are you in an area prone to fire? If so, how would you evacuate/shelter from it?
- As the atmosphere warms up, it holds more water. Will this mean more or less precipitation for you? How is the drainage in your area?
- What plants/animals/insects live in nearby unpopulated areas? How will temperature extremes hurt them? Are any species from nearby biomes going to move in? Are any invasive species edible/useful?
- What city/town/municipality do you live in? Who lived there before you?
- What is your municipal water source? Does it depend on snowpack?Rainfall? Rivers/lakes/reservoirs? How will climate breakdown impact your water supply?
- What is your municipal energy source? Does it depend on snowpack? Rainfall? Rivers? (Hydro) Or is it solar? Fossil fuels? Wind? Other? How will climate breakdown impact your energy supply?
- Where do you get your food? What would happen if ¼ of the fresh food vanished from your local food source? What about ½? ¾?
- What direction are prevailing winds? What might blow in from that area (precipitation? Fire? Insects?)?
- Do you live in a house/condo/apartment/vehicle/unhoused? Are you in an urban/suburban/rural area?
- What’s the elevation of your living space? What is up-slope? What is down-slope? Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, what would happen if it rained hard enough to cause mudslides? Flooding?
- Is your living space only comfortable because of air conditioning/heat? What would you do if you had no AC/Heat?
- What’s the soil like around you? Soil test/consistency? Does water sink into the soil, pool, or flow over the landscape?
- Is your living space insulated properly? How much would it cost to do so, if not?
- Do you have the space/knowledge to produce any food via gardening/husbandry/foraging? If not, who can you depend on for it?
- How/where do you currently store your food? What if you no longer had refrigeration?
- How much light does your living space get inside? Outside?
- Who is your closest trustworthy neighbor? Do they have plans for a climate breakdown? Do any of your neighbors need help/assistance with basic needs?
- How many boardgames/books/art and craft supplies, musical instruments, non-digital forms of entertainment do you have?
Preparedness is NOT “Prepping”
Isn’t a lot of this climate breakdown preparation covered in “survivalism/prepper” literature? Yes, and no, but mostly no.
So-called “preppers” are amusing, but most are unclear on exactly what they’re preparing for. Religious apocalypse? Government shut-down? Civil war? LARPing? Civil war reenactment? As such, “prepper-ism” is a hodge-podge of random approaches and expensive gear.
The “Prepper movement” is also a billion dollar industry, whereas most of the most important ways to prepare for climate breakdown cost little to no money.
This also applies to the modern cult of self-sufficiency/“urban homesteading.” All of the “innovative” ways to save the planet (farms in shipping containers! Vertical gardens! Aquaponics systems!) tend to funnel dollars into the pockets of some pretty wealthy individuals.
There is no such thing as “self-sufficiency.” Even a hermit in a cave depends upon local plants and insects and animals. Even that awesome cabin guy in Alaska that they show all the time on PBS needed the occasional air-drop.
Prepperism and “self-sufficiency” can end up becoming a waste of resources. You might end up spending time, money, and headspace on “gear,” and learning methods that may not be the most efficient given your situation. Neither are they totally useless as concepts, however, but they need to be informed.
The Climate Breakdown Impact Assessment is important, because it will allow you to judge a) what resources are sufficient for your needs and b) whether your issues will be acute or chronic. Wasting time/resources/headspace is a bad idea. Do you need a “bug out bag?” What if it’s a way better idea to stay in place?
Your most important resource during the Climate Breakdown will likely be staying on good terms with other people, and a willingness to help one another.
Remember the Three Principals of Withstanding: Family, Consideration, and Sufficiency: https://weirdwords.org/jeremypuma/how-to-navigate-climate-change