With every month that passes, we’ve been inundated lately with bad news about the changing climate. As we wend through the tail end of tornado season, with fire, drought and hurricane seasons in our sights, the reality of these changes has never been more visible.
It’s easy to shut off our minds and ignore these catastrophic events, especially when they aren’t happening in our own communities. We can sigh and wonder about the grace of god, and why we have been spared, but in our hearts we know that we aren’t safe from catastrophe.
But we can’t live every day in constant fear of the unknown.
Solutions to climate change are complex and varied, and they do require each of us to do our part. But there are some parts of the equation that we often overlook that can have real impact in the world.
Those changes are as simple as looking through our yard equipment and finding better tools to replace those that rely on emission-spewing two-cycle engines. They’re as simple as composting our food waste, or not generating food waste to begin with. They’re as simple as choosing our building materials wisely, being willing to ride shotgun in our family car instead of taking the second car to run errands, or simply running a few errands at once to reduce the time we spend polluting our highways.
They’re as simple as watching the patterns of bees and butterflies, earthworms, clover and mile-a-minute weed as they fill the niches in our backyard ecosystem. They’re as simple as shopping at your neighbor’s yard sale instead of a big box store.
There’s a lot of talk amongst doomsday preppers about the importance of being prepared to defend yourself and your family against the worst that could happen to our society, and some young people we’ve spoken to are, without irony, holding out hope of colonizing other planets. But that’s not how we will get through the challenges of climate change.
The places where people will thrive will be places held together by a strong sense of community, where the pooling of our resources and talents helps make us stronger as a whole. This sense of community is nothing alien to humans — it is what has made our species one of the most successful ever at colonizing this planet, which is still the planet where we have the best chance at thriving in the future.
Our sense of our resources is out of balance, but it doesn’t have to be that way. On a molecular level we are not creating or destroying anything on this planet. We are just changing the form of things — turning carbon in the ground into oxidized carbon in the atmosphere, turning plants to food to fertilizer and back to plants. This closed loop is good news. It is where earth’s solutions lie. The key is efficiency and innovation. We can’t waste anything and we need to be constantly building technology that eliminates waste or turns it back into compounds that aren’t hazardous to the atmosphere.
We can start this, quite literally, in our own backyards, by raising our own food, by not buying more food than we can consume, by shopping locally and by finding ways to produce our own energy.
At the May 24 student climate strike in front of Southampton Town Hall, Edwina von Gal of the Perfect Earth Project started a chant that sounded a little bit silly: “No Biomass Leaves My Land.”
It’s a testament to how mainstream such an idea has become that this chant was eagerly taken up by the crowd.
It’s a simple pledge, but it’s one that contains all the problems and possibilities facing the globe. Once we know how we can make the changes on our own little postage stamp, we can take that knowledge to our neighbors, our towns, our county, the state and the country. And we can start doing this right now. There’s no better time.