Climate Change is the shift in global or regional climate patterns, occurring from the mid-to-late 20th Century onward, attributed largely to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. “Greenhouse gases” trap heat and make the planet warmer and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.”

The largest source of greenhouse emissions, the EPA notes, from human activities in the U.S. is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. In addition, animal-centric farming activities and its resulting food production, such as those referenced above that help facilitate the spread of infectious diseases like COVID, account for approximately 10 percent of American production of greenhouse gases.

Our treatment of animals is increasing both our chances of catching a deadly virus and suffering the devastating effects of climate change. The Earth is warming, seas are rising, disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are increasing in frequency and power, and diseases are spreading faster as heat permits “spreaders” such as ticks to live longer. Here’s a much longer list of the overall problems we face in this situation. (Warning: it’s not a fun read.)

The science is clear, comprehensive, and consistent, and I’m encouraged that more and more of the American population seems to understand that. The U.S. remains behind much of the global community in dealing with climate change due to the Trump Administration’s dismissiveness toward this issue, but international voices such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg continue to illuminate the stakes that we face.

In my opinion, climate change is not just an issue but the issue facing Americans–who have the opportunity in the 2020 federal elections to make a decisive statement about just how important it is to us to begin to slow it down. Economic prosperity and technological advancements will matter little in a world that is increasingly facing ecological collapse.

Climate change is already hitting poorer people the most, but it will eventually undermine everyone’s quality of life. How do you maintain an economy, run a company, and find available, skilled employees when natural disasters continue to wipe out infrastructure, health problems proliferate, and mass dislocation overwhelms the country with even more immigration challenges? Is this the world we not only will leave to our children and their children, but the one we’ll (thinking especially about Boomers and Xers here) have to cope with as elderly individuals?

Disbelief Doesn’t Change Reality

Just because you don’t “believe” in climate change doesn’t mean it–and its consequences–aren’t real. Just because you feel powerless to do anything about it doesn’t mean that you “can’t” do something about it. Each of us can and must do our part.

Keep this post handy as a reference tool as you continue to learn about climate change and take actions that make things better for yourself and others.

So…what to do?

In general, given that no single governmental entity, company, or philanthropist has the ambition or bandwidth to ensure that climate change slows down, it falls upon individuals to exert whatever influence we have. Here’s some mindfulness tips to get started:

  1. Be more deliberate in how you consume resources, such as buying less, eating less beef, recycling more, using less water and power, and so forth. You won’t curb climate change by yourself, but imagine tens of millions of other Americans embracing these habits at the same time. The grassroots can and will make a difference.
  2. Compassion is a core practice of mindfulness. It’s the capacity and intention to relieve others’ suffering. All of life is suffering or will suffer due to climate change. Let compassion grow within you and be the intrinsic force that drives you to take proactive steps to address climate change.
  3. Get grounded in the core facts about climate change, and continue to add to your knowledge. Subscribing to climate change news in your smartphone’s news feed is an easy way to stay on top of the latest research on this issue.
  4. Listen patiently when others talk about their disbelief in climate change or their reluctance to change habits in order to slow it down. Hear them out, seek to understand, and then respectfully share your perspective. Get dialogue going. You never know when you can be the “spark” that gives someone else the epiphany they need.
  5. Vote in 2020 for candidates committed to curbing climate change. Talk about a chance to “change the story” of what climate change is doing to our planet and how we’re complicit.
  6. Speak out and influence others, based on the knowledge you’re gathering through your learning agility, whenever you’re given the appropriate megaphone.