Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

washingtonpost OP t1_jd53gw2 wrote

Good question but let me reframe it. You’re absolutely right. Any one us don't have an outsize impact on the 36.3 gigatonnes the world emits each year — except perhaps Kim Kardashian and others flying their private jets. But a more useful question is how are you part of a solution. There’s two ways that I can see:

  1. You reuse your own emissions a small, but personal meaningful amount. This has the added benefit of bring your life in line with you personal values (and you may even have more fun)
  2. You’re a walking billboard for how to do things a different way.

I personally think #2 may be the biggest impact you have by shifting norms. Here’s what I wrote in my first column:

"While global problems don’t seem entirely amenable to individual action, that is only part of the story. Human culture and global warming are not linear systems. They are driven by exponential curves, social contagions and threshold effects. They exist at the messy confluence of biology, economics, psychology and physics.

Take solar panels. In 2021, researchers in the journal Nature published a paper studying why people install solar panels on their roofs. Subsidies, geography and policy were all considered. The most powerful factor? Whether a neighbor already had solar panels. There was even a proximity effect. People living within two blocks of homes with panels were the most likely to buy their own. Solar panels, in other words, were contagious. With climate, we must consider social norms as well as policies and incentives."


Other_Exercise t1_jdebvig wrote

To add to this, should we focus more on the small things? It seems people focus too much on stuff that most of us spend very little of our time doing, like air travel, and not things we do lots.


CalClimate t1_jed0bot wrote

More to the point, you're the beta test site. Give feedback on what does and doesn't work. Make stuff work better.