Several days ago, participants around the world took part in Earth Hour, an ongoing event where you simply turn off the lights for an hour. It may seem easier said than done, but then again, I had to work that day and was away from my place for hours. I unplugged everything, and a number of things are still unplugged. Does it have an impact? Over the years, it has become quite visible. Then again, we need to use electricity for everything from lights to refrigerators to charging our laptops and smartphones. Still, a more disciplined use of electricity needs to be ingrained, especially since we're still barreling towards an uninhabitable environment because of global warming/climate change.
A recent article by Vox showed just how hard it is/would be for the world's countries to fully commit to the Paris agreement. To be frank, this kind of action is pretty gargantuan. Unfortunately, we don't have the leaders necessary to do anything worthwhile about it. Donald Trump and the Republicans have gone full-on climate denier at this point. Either that, or they're so spiteful of Democrats and liberals that they're willing to ruin the environment just for monetary gain and the thrill of trolling. Trump's recent executive orders to dismantle Obama's climate change initiatives, and the tinkering of the climate change page on the State Department's website, are evidence of this. Hell, even Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National Party in France, has conceded to reality, to an extent, on climate change (though since it's the Express, a U.K. tabloid, be cautious). Meanwhile, the Democrats and liberals are spineless at this point. When they're not busy trying to preach that climate change is real (even Bernie Sanders does this!), they're coming up with solutions that don't tackle the problems we have with the militancy required. Then-president Obama's idea for a cap-and-trade on carbon dioxide emissions (similar to that of Reagan's approach to lead in gasoline) was lambasted by Republicans and the like, but this approach on carbon emissions was gonna be drawn out for decades, while not ensuring a complete elimination on carbon emissions. The Clean Power Plan is the same way: endlessly lambasted, but not serious enough to make the turnaround necessary to combat climate change. Then there's the Paris Agreement, which Obama made a strong case for. Unfortunately, nothing is ever enough because the facts (ironic for so many who call themselves pragmatists) are much more daunting than they're willing to admit.
If out goal is to stop temperatures from rising globally to 2 degrees Celsius, or even 1.5 degrees, we're not doing enough. This is what climate scientists and others are saying; why can't Democrats and liberals? Oh well.
Now, as far as ordinary citizens go, we can't force coal-fueled power plants from shutting down all at once. However, we can do some things that will make an impact. Adopt the Earth Hour principle for your everyday life; remember to unplug devices you don't use, and keep those devices unplugged if you're not using them. Also, there are two companies you can sign onto that will make an impact right now. The first is Ecosia, which is a search engine with the added benefit of planting trees when you use it. (They recently passed 7 million trees planted, and they're still going!) The second is Arcadia, which allows you to use renewable energy from your home or apartment right now. You're still receiving electricity from your utility, but Arcadia allows you to pay your bill while using renewable energy certificates, so you're really using renewable energy. They also keep track of your clean energy accumulation on your account dashboard, so you can prove that you're making an impact!
Will all of this stop climate change from destroying civilization as we know it? Probably not, but then again, neither the Clean Power Plan or the Paris Agreement are/were fit for the task either. I mean, there are technologies out there that not only allow us to use renewable energy right now, but also extract CO2 from the atmosphere, which then can be used for things like carbon fibers! Hell, there's a plant in India that turns its emissions into baking soda! The solutions to climate change are right in front of us, even if the solutions to meeting even the Paris Agreement are daunting. What we need more of is courage, and right now, both political parties are deeply bereft of that.