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Wanna Fight Climate Change? Here’s What to Do, According to Science

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Education surrounding climate change centers on low or moderate-impact activities like recycling and light bulbs, rather than those that put a massive ding like eating a plant-based diet.

DANIEL STARKEY: Climate change is one of the biggest existential threats facing humanity… The problem, though, can often seem astonishingly big. The planet is thousands of miles across… so what can a person do? Actually quite a lot. A new analysis of loads of data sought to narrow down what the average person could do to affect their carbon footprint. They rated each effect averaging out over a person’s lifetime and considered national and regional standards to highlight how different problems affect individuals in different parts of the world.

Published this week in Environmental Research Letters, the paper suggests a few changes that people make to put a massive ding in their carbon impact: eating a plant-based diet, going car-free, avoid travel… Unfortunately, almost all education surrounding climate change centers on low or moderate-impact activities, like composting and recycling. These help, of course, but they aren’t even in the same realm as these other lifestyle changes…

Veganism is, for example, a lot cheaper than Gwyneth Paltrow and pals might suggest (beans and rice are about the cheapest food you can get, and it’s a complete protein, for example), but governments have done little to educate their people about what they can do to actually make a difference. The concern, then, is that people may just opt for the easier option of upgrading light bulbs and thinking the two choices are equivalent. The latter is so low, in fact, that the paper doesn’t give an exact value — but it’s many times less than ditching a car or that fully-loaded Chipotle burrito. And again, the research suggests that these efforts will work…

“For instance, the United States has seen a measurable decrease… in car usage and ownership for the millennial generations,” the paper reads. “In terms of plant-based diets, the willingness of individuals to eat less meat increases with the perceived effectiveness of the action, which suggests the need for increased awareness of the most effective options.” In a move that shouldn’t be terribly surprising, the article’s also a little bit terse with those that may not want to make some life changes. SOURCE…

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