Pick the lowest hanging fruit first

Simple keys to solving climate change

The science of climate change is pretty simple: higher levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are causing the planet to warm up.  The most obvious consequences – rising sea levels (be very worried, Florida), hotter temperatures, bigger storms and more intense wildfires – are unfortunately just the prelude to a larger symphony.  It’s not reassuring that atmospheric CO2 levels hit a new record high last month.

The solution to climate change is pretty simple too: we just need to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  For the most part, that means we need to stop burning fossil fuels.  (That may not exactly be easy, but surely it’s easier and cheaper than complicated and dubious ideas like carbon capture and storage, direct air capture or geoengineering.)

Most people’s carbon footprint is dominated by three slices: transportation, electricity use and food.  Fortunately, each of those three slices has plenty of ‘low hanging fruit’ – IE simple strategies or actions that can significantly reduce emissions for little to no cost (and often even savings).  Here are a few:

  • Drive as little as possible.  Ask yourself every time you reach for your car key, ‘Is this trip really necessary?’  Combine errands into fewer trips.  Resist the urge to drive kids to school, because it’s a huge disservice to them (and everyone else) in the long run.  Carpool, take public transit, walk or bike whenever possible.
  • When driving is unavoidable:
    • Don’t idle, ever; avoid drive-throughs
    • Drive with a gentle foot (IE smooth starts and stops) for significant fuel savings
    • Use fresh air over air conditioning whenever possible, especially in slower urban driving
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer (dryers use as much power as 500 LED light bulbs!!)
  • Get into the habit of turning lights, computers and other electrical devices off when not in use
  • Resolve to never waste food – an eco-friendly practice that makes good economic sense too
  • Migrate your diet to more plant-based food; bonus if it’s local.  In particular, try to reduce your consumption of red meat, sometimes referred to as the ‘coal of the food system
  • Strive to ask yourself, “What’s the environmental impact of this?” before all decisions relating to purchases, consumption or mobility (that’s the aim of “Your GREEN Filter”; more here.)

On your radar: plan to make your next vehicle as energy efficient as possible (hopefully electric); take advantage of government incentive programs to make your home more energy efficient; install your own solar energy system; grow a big vegetable garden; contact your political leaders

If everyone were to pick the low-hanging fruit on the tree of climate solutions, we’d be well on our way to global carbon neutrality – so let’s get picking!

In the news:

First Ford, now Chevrolet: GM announces it will install Tesla plugs in future EV models so drivers will be able to access the Tesla charging network

A Stanford energy expert concludes switching the world to renewables will cost $62 trillion – but with a payback of just six years! Enjoy taking pictures outdoors?  Why not enter Nature Canada’s 2023 Nature Photo Contest?


“The short-term focus on economics, at the expense of long-term impacts of adding more carbon to the atmosphere, speaks to a government that ignores science and panders to people’s self-interest, making for a bleak future.”

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