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What More Can I Do About Climate Change?

Stephen Lewis

March 2024

As the news about climate change becomes all too real and persistent, you may wonder, is there really any hope we can solve this and what more can I do? The answer to that is there are many small and large commitments you can make to speed up progress on climate change here in Connecticut and nationally. And yes, there is a great deal of hope provided we all collectively work together. 

 

So what can you do? First, you need to be more engaged politically. This is the biggest impact you can have and it is free! So-called clicktivism – clicking links to take action and send automated emails to your legislators – does help and you should do it regularly, but what is more valuable is personal involvement. Meeting your legislators, calling them, engaging them in your town when they have listening sessions, and most importantly, coming to the Capitol on lobby days and for public hearings. We have an important climate lobby day coming up on March 15th and you can get the details and RSVP here. This legislative session will see some of the most important environmental bills in over a decade. Let’s help make them as strong as possible!

 

Lobbyists swarm legislators at the Capitol. Many polluting industries are well represented full-time up in Hartford. Legislative leaders are already coming in with a mindset for compromise – ready to cut meaningful climate legislation down to size to show the lobbyists and business interests that they can be reasonable. Even in the face of a climate emergency, the default position in Hartford is to seek bi-partisan solutions and not to be overly ambitious. We need to fight this mindset with everything we have. Legislators should not continue to enable climate polluting industries at everyone else’s expense. Let your legislator hear that directly from you!

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Sierra Club Lobby Day at the State Capitol last year

But politics aside, we can each do more. When it comes to our own fossil fuel use, we can and need to reduce it. You should be making a plan to make your next automobile an electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid, or at least a hybrid vehicle. At home, you can change to an electric lawn mower which cuts a lot of emissions.  Reducing the size of your lawn can also reduce emissions. In fact, as spring approaches there is a lot you can do in your yard to be more climate friendly.  And speaking of your home, do you realize how much pollution is coming from your heating equipment? Now is the time to make a plan to use money from the Inflation Reduction Act to change your water heater to a non-polluting heat-pump water heater. This will save you real money and they work great! When your oil boiler or furnace is ready to be replaced, look to install an air or ground-source heat pump. Here too, you can use tax credits and rebates to lower the cost. In this age of ever hotter summers, having an efficient way to cool your home and heat it is going to cut down our own climate polluting emissions.

Our diet is an often overlooked opportunity to really reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle farming is destroying the Amazon rainforest before our eyes. The impact of eating meat and dairy on the climate is 14.5%. Agriculture as a whole accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We need to change this one consumer at a time and start by gradually reducing the amount of meat and dairy we eat. 

Finally, you can be more active in the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations. You can volunteer and work on campaigns, you can help us table and educate the public, you can show up for rallies and demonstrations, and you can make a commitment to give a little more money directly to the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club. We are building momentum with more staff, more advertising resources, and much greater impact. That takes people and money. If you could donate a modest amount of money each month, your commitment will take us further and enable our voices to be magnified. If interested in helping in this way, Donate to the Sierra Club here.

 

Regardless of what actions you choose to take, making a commitment to engage and gradually do more to help is what we all need to be doing. We hope you will join us.

Stephen Lewis is our Greater Hartford Group Chair and chairs the Legislative Committee of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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