So 2015 was the hottest year on record. Not only that, but it broke the last record by the largest margin ever. In 2015, the global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.62 F above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. And now the first 3 months of 2016 are the hottest still, by a whopping .7 degrees F.
That’s pretty overwhelming. Would we take a real, bonafide Zombie apocalypse over global warming? Maybe so. But runaway CO2 and methane emissions are the scourge, not renegade viruses.
The historic Paris Climate Accord in December saw 195 nations commit to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Lots of sweeping ideas and plans are being discussed and enacted as the devastating effects of climate change become undeniable. While it’s comforting to imagine that governments will solve all our problems, I still feel there is an urgent need for all of us, as individuals, to do all that we can. Right now.
It’s easy to shrink from climate news. On Facebook, my posts on the topic seem to have the lowest ratio of importance to popularity. I imagine my friends clicking over to The Walking Dead instead of responding. But moving beyond words to action is how you can communicate with greater power. Composting. Biking over driving. Recycling. Not buying so much stuff. Planting a garden to grow some of your own food. Investing in an electric car. There is a long list. What I’ve come to recognize is that while these steps matter on their own, they also communicate to others that climate action matters. When we started a composting program at Indow, it signaled to every member of our team that small steps are important. When one employee sees another riding to work on a cold, rainy February day, that person gets a message more powerful than a memo.
And the more you do something, the more of a habit it becomes until it isn’t a sacrifice but an act you enjoy. I prefer to ride my bike now, right through Portland’s rainy winters! Making something a habit creates greater bandwidth to take new actions. This Earth Day, reflect on the great power you have to create changes, large and small, and in doing so shine your light in this beautiful world.