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How you can help fight climate change in ways that really matter

  • Talk about climate change with your friends and family members. "Each one teach one," said climate activist and business owner, Jerome Ringo. "I call them kitchen conversations," he said.
  • "The most important thing that individuals can do is vote, and vote on the climate," Michael E. Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, told CNBC.
  • "Do anything — anything at all," Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University said. "Students, study. Teachers, teach. Writers, write. Entrepreneurs, invent, build, ship! Whatever it is you do best, consider how climate change figures into it, and do that."

Demonstrators display signs and a banner during a "No Climate, No Deal" march on the White House, in Washington, DC, June 28, 2021.Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Hurricane Ida made landfall over Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 miles per hour on Sunday, leaving more than one million Louisiana utility customers are without power. The entire resort city of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate on Monday. More than 20 people were killed as flash floods in New York and New Jersey caused massive flooding.

Those who are living through one of these crises made worse by anthropogenic climate change, are likely consumed with survival — evacuating, cleaning out debris, rebuilding. On the other side of immediate safety concerns, however, is often a new resolve to combat the common factor in these disasters: Climate change. But the size of the problem can make meaningful action seem impossible.

Can a single person do anything to meaningfully contribute to climate change relief efforts? Most certainly, say climate change experts. Here are a few simple things you can do right now:

Talk about climate change with family and friends

Talk about climate change with the people in your life.

"Every great social justice movement started on the community level," Jasmine Sanders, executive director of Our Climate, a Washington DC-based youth advocacy organization, told CNBC. That can mean "sitting down with your family to have a conversation about climate change at the dinner table," she said.

So, too, said Jerome Ringo, the co-founder and chairman of climate innovation company Zoetic Global, former leader at the National Wildlife Federation, and global ambassador for the countdown Climate Clock. "Each one teach one," Ringo told CNBC. When you learn about climate change, pass that information on to your neighbor so they too are able to have a conversation with another person.

"I call them kitchen conversations where people begin to sit and talk," Ringo said. A casual conversation could lead to a group coming together and deciding to call their elected representatives or starting a neighborhood recycling program, he said.

Know the climate policies of your elected officials

Take the time to educate yourself about the climate-related stances of elected officials, Adrienne L. Hollis, climate justice and health scientist, told CNBC.

"Really become familiar with legislation around climate change, for example the executive orders from President Biden, and pieces of legislation that are proposed by various members of Congress," Hollis said. She focuses on issues of health, environmental justice and climate at her namesake Hollis Environmental Consulting and was previously at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "There are so many opportunities for the public to have input," Hollis said.

If this feels overwhelming to try on your own, join groups that are working on legislative issues already, she said. "People need to know about all of the tools that are available to them, and from that — what tools are needed and missing," she said. "Get involved locally, regionally and at the federal level."

And keep current on developments. "Knowledge and awareness are power," Sanders said. "Stay in the know of how climate change is impacting each of us by reading news on a daily basis and then use your superpower to affect change!"


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