How Can I Prevent Climate Change?

I see this asked often and figured I'd write up some of the most effective things an individual can do to mitigate climate change.

I'm pulling rough numbers from the Drawdown project. I'm not following it exactly, but it's my main source for this. Unfortunately, there isn't much any normal individual can do (normal = not Jeff Bezos or a president). This requires massive international cooperation and fundamental economic changes so politics is the most important path.

That said, here's a list of some of the most impactful and easy contributions anyone can make.

1. Donate to family planning charities and do not have many children

One of the least expensive and most significant impacts you can make is limiting population growth. Contraceptives are very cheap, and many charities provide them. Please research and find the one that aligns best with what you want. If you do not want to and just want a name, here are some options:
I obviously can't tell you not to have kids at all. We have a fundamental drive to want them. I have a son and he's great. That said, know that the world they're inheriting will be hostile and in all likelihood will not support a quality of life as high as our current one. There's a good chance it won't support 7 billion people and your children will encounter a lot of death and economic collapse. Try to factor this in when planning your family.

2. Do everything you can to get the best candidates for this elected

In the US, the Democratic Party clearly wins here. I don't know enough about international politics to know who to recommend in other countries.

Things that you would want them to support are:
  • carbon tax and factoring carbon usage into trade agreements (e.g., carbon tariffs)
  • increased nuclear, wind, and solar power production
  • reduced fossil fuel power production
  • family planning/free contraceptives/abortion access
  • protection of forests and re-forestation
  • more efficient cars, trucks, and planes
  • efficient lighting and appliances
  • telecommuting benefits
  • biking infrastructure
  • mass-transit
  • more efficient farming
Policies that sound nice but have lower ROI so we maybe shouldn't waste political capital on are:
  • retrofitting buildings
  • niche power sources (e.g., wave power)
  • electric car subsidies; these are good for other reasons so still good policy...just less critical than the list above
  • high-speed rail
  • green roofs
Effective ways to get them elected are to vote for them, ostracize/shame people that spread lies about them, and bring others to vote with you.

3. Buy clean cookstoves and solar lamps for people

There are a number of sites that let you do this. I'm listing some below but research and find one that makes sense to you:

4. Contact your elected officials and make it clear that this is important

If you need to pick one single issue, flood them with demands for accurate carbon taxes. There's no exact value but ~$200/ton is probably reasonable. A good starting point is $35/ton in 2020 and $10/ton more each year after that ($45/ton in 2021, $55/ton in 2022, etc.).

5. Donate to groups that protect rainforests or plant trees

There are tons of these. Just find the ones you like. Some examples:
6. Do the really obvious stuff

Many ways to minimize your impact are really obvious and known to everyone. Examples of this are:
  • try not to travel long distances
  • opt for longer shipping times when ordering online
  • commute as little as possible; don't live far from work, telecommute, carpool, use mass transit...
  • limit electricity usage; don't run the AC when you aren't home, don't use incandescent bulbs, etc.
  • limit yard maintenance to the bare minimum required by your HOA
  • eat less beef


As I stated in the beginning...none of this likely matters at all. We need massive international efforts to start immediately, and we might be too far gone already. I've written about this extensively. However, giving up sucks. If you want to try to mitigate it, you might as well do it in the most efficient way possible and this list will hopefully help you with that.

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