What can I do, to calm the climate?

If the IPCC’s Special Report on climate change made you want to do something – anything – to calm the climate, swiftly followed by a sinking feeling that you just don’t know what is both doable and meaningful, and you’d rather not think about it…. You can do something meaningful! Here’s a great way to find your contribution. You can do something meaningful. You don’t have to do it all, all by yourself. Pick the few things where you have a lot of ability to change, and work on them.

Think about your life in three circles:

circles of influence control climate change 2.jpg
  • Daily domestic life

  • At work

  • Community and leisure

Circles of influence and control

Consider your ‘circle of control’ and your ‘circle of influence’ in each aspect of your life.

  • Daily domestic life

    For example: Do you rent or own your home? Do you live somewhere with good public transport? Can you cook at home?

  • At work
    For example: Are you the boss? Do you influence strategy and make significant decisions? Or is deciding whether to report a draughty window the most you can do?

  • Community and leisure
    For example: Do you spend time active in your local community, volunteering, taking part in things? What are your opportunities to do things differently, or to help others do things differently?

Maybe your circle of control is pretty big: you’re the CEO of a tech start-up, or a policy-maker in a government department, or the head of sustainability at a well-known brand. You can contribute through strategic leadership. What does your organisation do best? How can it do that in a way that takes us closer to a calm climate, as fast as the IPCC recommends, rather than further away from it? How can you help your people – who no doubt have been thinking (or avoiding thinking) about climate – to find their response?

Perhaps your circle of control is quite small: you’re looking at individual action you can take yourself.

The focus

The IPCC has asked us to focus on four things:

  1. Reducing the fossil fuels we use, directly and indirectly, for travel – walk, cycle, use public transport and electric vehicles. Don’t fly when you can go by train instead.

  2. Reducing the fossil fuels we use, directly and indirectly, for power and heat – insulate, use power and heat efficiently, switch to renewables.

  3. Eat less meat and dairy – switch to mainly plant-based diets.

  4. Be vocal – tell companies and politicians that they need to act, and support them when they do. Explain why action is needed, to your friends and family.

I’d like to add a fifth. Building resilient relationships and communities. The journey towards a low-carbon future in a disrupted climate will be hard. Lots of us will see painful, rapid change in the way we live. I hope to be part of a kind, compassionate and brave response to those changes. We humans are capable of amazing selflessness, love and courage. We are clever and resourceful, joyful and funny. Part of our contribution is to remind ourselves of that. To model it. To smile at strangers, pay it forward, listen with respect, wipe each others’ tears, laugh along and celebrate together.

“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work,
but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
Rabbi Tarfon

Making the Path by Walking

This post was first published in my Making the Path by Walking newsletter, November 2018. Scroll down to the footer to subscribe.