World’s coolest astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, once said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” But, only several days into the Trump presidency, it seems we have entered a new age; one of “alternative facts.” Despite the fact that 97% of climate scientist agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities, the new sitting president has previously called climate change a “concept… created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Trump tweeted out the “alternative fact” in 2012 and clearly still believes this to be true, despite the science. Within hours of his inauguration, Trump has removed all mentions of climate change from the official whitehouse.gov website.
It’s not surprising, really. Rex Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO, has been approved by the Senate and is now the Secretary of State. If ties between the mega-corporations and federal politics were once an affair kept quiet, this is the in-the-spotlight pussy grab for all to see. However, as if that were not concerning enough, media gag orders were placed this week on Badlands National Park for tweeting about climate change. When the people no longer feel their vote matters and freedom of speech is threatened, what is there to do other than feel hopeless? Vote with your dollar.
Let us not forget, the United States is a capitalist republic, not a democracy. Though our vote is not useless, it is likely politicians care more about their donors than their constituents. We can take to the streets and protest and certainly that has been the trend we’ve seen so far. The Women’s March on Washington on January 21 and the impending People’s Climate March are hopeful symbols of solidarity. Sadly, they are not much more than that. Unless everybody that shows up to march goes back home and makes actual change with their dollar, not much will happen. Voting with your dollar is the only thing the corporate powers in charge give a damn about.
Want a blender? Need a new desk? I promise most all of your purchasing needs exist already in perfectly good used condition on websites like Ebay, Etsy, or Craigslist. I recently moved from a city apartment to a small suburban home and needed a few items, all of which I purchased second-hand. Every new item made has a carbon footprint. The more new “stuff” we buy, the more we contribute to climate change. This is a very easy way to vote with your dollar. On to the next…
Switch to Renewable Energy.
Many well-intentioned protesters will go home after rallying in the streets, switch on their lights, and not realize this little everyday action means more to energy corporations than the protest itself. I’m not recommending we all go off the grid or start using candle light. These are obviously not feasible options. But, there are other real changes we can make. One thing we can do is mitigate our electricity by offsetting our home’s power use. Companies, such as Sterling Planet, add a charge of about 26 cents a day to your current electric bill, which offsets the gap between the production of fossil fuel-based electricity and clean energy, such as wind power. Some electric companies, like New York’s Con Edison, have green power plans that allow its users to choose wind power for a small extra fee per kilowatt-hour. These options are available for homeowners or renters, in apartments or homes.
For residential homeowners, solar panels are becoming a more viable option as the technology improves and panel prices drop. Leasing solar or purchasing panels through a company like Solar City may completely cover your electric needs for the same monthly cost of your current electric bill, and could even put extra cash in your wallet.
Of course, we couldn’t get from our home to our rallies without our cars — or can we? The obvious option we should all consider, when possible, is public transportation, walking, and biking. But what about when our cars are necessary? Hybrid cars allow us to spend considerably less on gas, giving less of our voting dollar to dirty energy. Or, you can do as I just did, switch over to wind power on your home and then lease an electric vehicle. Driving an electric car doesn’t make much sustainable sense if you’re still powering your home, and therefore your car, on coal. If it’s in the budget, by switching to the alternatives listed above, we can power our homes and our cars on clean energy — making progress with our spending power.
Eat less meat.
Care about the planet but love bacon? Sorry to break it to you but meat production is bad news for the climate. According to the United Nations, the production of meat results in more global warming greenhouse gasses than those emitted by global transportation. Think of all the cars and trucks on the road — that is, before I convinced you all to switch to electric or hybrid vehicles — and all of the planes and trains; the money spent on meat has a bigger climate-impact than all of those modes of transportation combined. While switching over to a vegetarian or, even better, a vegan diet is the ultimate way to vote with your dollar in order to combat climate change, if you’re not ready to completely switch over then the least you can do is considerably cut back on meat and add in more plants.
To quote my idol, Jane Goodall, “Don’t feel helpless when you look at all the problems in the world…In the end, it’s hundreds and millions of people making small choices that lead us to a new kind of world.” Keep voting against climate change every day. The corporations and the administrations need money to survive. If you keep funding climate change, your protests and your ballot votes, while well-intentioned, mean very little. Make the changes I’ve recommended and we will be lead into a new brighter world.