The Value of Individual Actions to Reduce Emissions

For those of you convinced that we should reduce emissions (perhaps a minority among my readers), is it worth taking individual action to lower your own CO2 footprint?

Paul Kelly has been making the case for years that we should, and he has been acting in accordance with his principles, working in Chicago to help people lower emissions one family at a time. Paul says that for a variety of reasons it is becoming important that we change the fuels that run our economy. He adds that for the first time in recorded history it is now possible to do this.

I agree with Paul, but for slightly different reasons. If I quit emitting CO2 completely (well, I’d still like to breathe…) it would not dent the planetary totals for emissions. So why bother?

Especially for those who are not overly concerned about climate change, that’s a big ask. But even many of the true skeptics understand that fossil fuels won’t last forever, that conventional pollution is destroying lives today and that we will need to change our infrastructure to handle those two facts–and it doesn’t hurt to start early.

I believe people who can afford to should put solar panels on their roofs, drive hybrid or completely electric cars, walk whenever they can, use public transportation and generally make a conscious effort not to needlessly contribute to climate change.

The reason is not so much about individual emissions. It’s about sending a message. Not just to politicians–they’re pretty deaf on their best days. If enough consumers send purchasing messages to manufacturers, distributors, utilities, etc., they will make changes to their manufacturing, distributing and power generation.

And that will make a difference.


10 responses to “The Value of Individual Actions to Reduce Emissions

  1. Very few people or organisations are interested in reducing emissions per se.

    The vast majority are more-interested in saving money and/or virtue signalling.

    Governments encourage the former by adding taxes etc to fuels & energy to make them more expensive, and hence reduce the payback-period for energy conservation/change-over measures.

  2. Act as if the laws you want already exist.

    Act as if carbon already costs what you think it should.

    Act as if everyone who believes as you do acts as you do.

    Stop waiting for the other 50% of us to agree with you on “the science.”

    Act as if that’s never gonna happen.

    Act as if it’s up to you—half the world—to save the whole. Act as if we’re going to freeload on your sacrifices, because we are, and there’s nothing you can do to stop us, because there isn’t.

    There are billions of you.

    Quit it with this convenient false modesty of “oh, I would, but it won’t make a dent.”

    There are BILLIONS of you.

    Of course it’ll make a difference.

    • Brad,
      in a sense that is good advice simply because most so-called carbon reductions involve saving money in the affluent West.
      My heating and electricity bills are among the lowest in my neighborhood because I am cheap and know that I have no need to warm or cool an empty house to the same extent as when we are home.
      As far as influencing the “climate”? Bunk.

      • Bunk?

        You know who else said her actions couldn’t cause an extreme weather event?

        A butterfly, just before flapping her wings.


        I rule.

      • Brad, the butterfly effect is a fallacy and well documented as such. You don’t rule. Physics rules.

  3. Billions? That’s scary. I think 40% of the world’s population has never heard global and warming put together as a phrase…

  4. Citation: personal assumption.

    I always suppose, as a rule, that the world’s population is split down the middle on dangerous AGW.

    Do you doubt there are billions in the concerned camp?

    Aren’t we continually told that “global warming denial” is an exclusively Anglophone, or at least Occidental, affliction?

    Then again, if your “40%” is to be believed, it would certainly go some way towards explaining why nobody in the developing world is “denying” it. Can you deny a phrase you’ve never heard? 🙂

  5. They’re the lucky ones, I guess. Think of all those people who have never heard of Michael Mann. Blessed are the developing for they shall never see a pudgy white dude with a goatee.

  6. Except it won’t make a difference.

  7. Steve Jobs was wrong.

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