I’m in love with our planet. The vast and unfathomable variety of life on earth never ceases to amaze me, when I pause and remember to take a few moments to appreciate it. A flock of starlings synchronizing their dance across the evening sunset. Fungi that bloom out of the dirt from seemingly, nothing. Birds chirping blissfully outside my window. Warm sunlight kissing my face on a cool clear fall day. The expansiveness of the Blue Ridge Mountains standing steady and strong. Booming thunder during an evening summer storm. All these small wonders are, in a way, the Small Acts of our planet.
Storm on the horizon
Something is amiss among this beauty though. A dark heavy cloud looms in our future. Already the earth is shifting it’s patterns as a result of it’s changing chemistry. “2013 monsoon floods that killed nearly 6,000 people in India, and devastating droughts in Brazil and New Zealand,” are the effects of this change according to John Kerry who recently gave a speech to the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima. The polar ice caps, which help cool our planet, are dwindling. The oceans' acidity level rises, putting creatures with calcium shells at risk of extinction. Global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it, is real. I’m taking Small Acts to live more consciously and not take our planet’s delicate eco-system for granted.
The biggest issue
Does that make me a tree-hugger or a hippie? Maybe in some pop-culture definitions of those words, it does. In the end though, this is not an issue of “lifestyle choices” and semantics. It’s not an issue of political views, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, terrorism, or capitalism. It’s a “survival of our species on this planet” issue.
Earth doesn't care whether we destroy ourselves or not. The planet has been doing it’s own thing for billions of years. Whole species have been wiped out before, and earth just chugs along, spinning merrily around the sun. We are only harming ourselves and other living beings in the long run. Eventually, earth will fix its atmosphere long after we’re gone.
It sounds morbid, but it’s the truth. Aside from all other issues we instigate and propagate in this world, of race and greed, religion and politics, this is paramount. Who cares about any of that if the earth has become too hot and dry to grow food or our cities are flooded and destroyed because of rising ocean tides and changing storm patterns.
There is hope though. We can all do our part in this effort. Small Acts are the only place to start. Small changes in habits over time, contribute to the positive energy and momentum needed to incite change on a larger scale. It might cost a little more money or revoke some of the convenience we've become so used to, but won’t it be worth it to help sustain our species on this planet?
Already our government, and many governments around the world are working to change policy that aims to reduce carbon emissions and build renewable energy infrastructure by 2030. Any amount of progress is good progress, but we as citizens of this world, must show support and help spread awareness about the critical nature of this issue.
Some Small Acts I work into my daily life:
turning off lights when I leave a room
putting my laptop to sleep when I’m not actively using it
turning my surge protector off before I go to bed
riding my bike instead of driving
riding the bus instead of driving
reusing items whenever I can (bags, food packaging containers, the blank side of a printed piece of paper I no longer need and more)
taking shorter showers
Many of these Small Acts relate to conservation of electricity because right now the majority of our CO2 emissions are coming from coal firing plants that we use to generate electricity. Electricity is then used to create things such as food packaging containers, clothes, and heating water. These emissions cause the warming of our planet, and ultimately our demise, so conserving electricity when possible is a Small Act toward fixing a big problem.
All effort makes progress
All of these actions count. They are all contributing positively toward solving this problem. Practicing simple things like this helps me live more consciously because I’m reminded to continue to take Small Acts towards positive change.
In reality though, we live in a system that is driven by money and politics. Right now that’s how big change happens. Trillions of dollars are at stake in the energy industry. A shift that’s large enough to have the impact we will need to meet our emissions goals will require a much more complicated shift. One that involves legal policy and investments in renewable energy infrastructure rather than conventional fossil fuel driven infrastructure. If you have the time, motivation, and passion for it, take some time and get introduced to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) and consider volunteering. You don’t have to live in Washington D.C. to have an influence on our government. The CCL hopes to shift the market to make renewable energy more affordable. All it takes it a little bit of attention, motivation, and action.
It's already begun
We are already feeling the effects of climate change, but many won't rear their ugly heads for some time. The only way to alter the outcome of this issue is to start acting now. At the very least, get informed, and share the message on Twitter or Facebook.