What Each of Us Can Do To Avoid a Climate Disaster

Noelle Ihli

Bill Gates, Author of How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Shares Five Ways You Can Make a Difference

Sometimes the conversation about climate chaos can feel so big that individual action seems futile. What can one person do to move the needle? 

According to Bill Gates, “You’re not powerless. And you don’t have to be a politician or a philanthropist to make a difference. You have influence as a citizen, a consumer, and an employee or employer.”

His statement isn’t another call to recycle or plant a tree – though if you’re able, you should do both. Instead, Gates suggests some less obvious steps you can take to initiate change on personal, community, and global levels.

Five Critical Contributions to Impact Climate Change

Gates offers five critical contributions individuals can make to impact climate change in a meaningful way. Each of these five actions is not only doable but powerful—especially when combined with the efforts of other climate-conscious individuals. 

  1. Research

Knowledge is power. Get informed about your local policies, where your elected officials stand on climate-related issues and the programs in your area that impact how your community uses energy and other natural resources. The more knowledgeable you are about what’s happening in your town and city, the better you can advocate for positive change.

  1. Engage

Most elected officials are eager to please their constituents. So if saving the planet is important to you, make your voice heard by your local leaders. These people have the power to support and create legislation and initiatives that further resource conservation, ecologically friendly development, and green energy adoption. 

  1. Run 

Not satisfied with the progress your community is making regarding resources and conservation? Step up and run for office to unseat your local officials. If you’re passionate about making a difference, the experience of working on a city council or board can be a great way to initiate change from the ground up. 

  1. Spend

Vote with your dollars every day by becoming a climate-conscious consumer. If you’re able, upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, purchase from sustainable companies, and use public transportation. Invest in solar panels for your house, LED lights, and low-flow toilets. There’s no need to do a total home makeover all at once, but when something breaks or wears out, replace it with a sustainable choice.

  1. Eat

Make a conscious choice to eat differently. Livestock raised for human consumption create 14.5% of all human-made greenhouse gasses. So limit meat and dairy, and explore the growing selection of tasty plant-based meat alternatives. 

These small choices can add up to significant contributions throughout a lifetime. Not only will you decrease consumer demand for unsustainable food sources, but you will increase demand for greener options. Consumer signals prompt broader shifts in the market and food production methods.

Whether you can commit to one or all of the suggestions on Bill Gates’ list, keep in mind that any step toward a sustainable future makes a difference. Each year, the world adds approximately 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Each of us is responsible for cutting that number to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Which one of Gates’ recommendations can you commit to moving forward? Share your thoughts on Twitter using #HowtoAvoidaClimateCrisis. 

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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