This is climate change, here's what we can do about it
Climate change has arrived at our doorstep like a gatecrasher at a summer picnic . The trail of devastation wrecked by extreme weather events over the past weeks left many of us feeling stunned and powerless. There are things we can do to reduce future impacts and better adapt to the new reality. Here are seven ways we can to engage in meaningful action. The bonus is well feel better as a result . READ MORE: * Could keeping a gratitude journal make me, the office Eeyore, a happier person? * Climate Action Week: Enforceable policy needed for a green growth future * Even when disasters feel `unprecedented', there is always a way through When we don't feel in control of our destinies, or in the world around us. That provides a foundation for mental distress, says Marc Wilson, Professor of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington. If were anxious, one of the best ways to deal with it is to take action. 1. Change small things for a big difference Wilson says if youre not currently doing anything much for the environment, thats a very low bar and theres lots you can do from that point. Engaging in any form of action is seizing the initiative, taking back the opportunity for control. Try starting with things like paying greater attention to our carbon footprint: reducing food waste, power or petrol consumption. Try driving less , shopping for climate resilience , or these six ways you can help. Any individual person is going to make a small impact, but the accumulation of lots of people doing small actions is going to be potentially valuable, says Wilson. 2. Choose certified low-carbon products Then theres the carbon footprint of the products we buy and consume. The recent weather events are a stark reminder of the urgent need for consumers and businesses to take action, says Austin Hansell, of Environmental Agency, Toitu Envirocare. Scientific data, such as the IPCC reports, have been warning us that inaction is not a choice. One of the simplest options we can all take is to look for credible claims and certifications from the brands we buy. 3. Take action in your workplace Businesses need to move beyond mere pledges, taking concrete steps to measure, manage, and reduce their carbon footprint, says Hansell. Dont let perfection be the enemy of good just get started. When looking for reduction opportunities, plan for ongoing climate impacts on our supply chains, communities and operations. This is a responsibility and an opportunity for businesses to be leaders in creating a brighter future. By investing in innovation, saving energy, and designing out waste, businesses benefit the environment and stay competitive in a changing market. 4. Find a cause that resonates with you The best thing we can do for climate justice as individuals is to find ways to work collectively, says Nick Henry, climate justice lead with the not-for-profit Oxfam Aotearoa. It could mean starting conversations with our friends, family and workmates about acting together for climate justice. If you're already sensitive to some environmental things, but you're not engaging in the broader political conversation, that would be a next step, says Wilson. What's an incremental step up from what youre already doing? 5. Press the government to take bolder climate action The governments current efforts will not protect us or communities in the Pacific from runaway climate destruction, or ensure that everyone has access to good, local food in the future, says Henry. Climate change is bigger than politics and bigger than electoral cycles, he says. Try emailing your local MP; signing an online petition; joining an organisation to combine your voice with others and show our government the urgent changes we need. 6. Support indigenous-led climate action Listening to and supporting indigenous communities to reclaim guardianship over their lands and resources is an essential part of climate action, says Henry. Indigenous communities in Aotearoa, the Pacific, and elsewhere are on the front lines of the climate crisis, and are leading efforts to reduce the climate harms caused by fossil fuels and industrial agriculture. 7. Vote in elections whenever you get the chance The devastation caused across the country by the recent floods and Cyclone Gabrielle has highlighted the need for all parties to cooperate on climate change with greater urgency. As a non-partisan organisation, Oxfam Aotearoa steps back from telling people who to vote for, but they do recommend Kiwis look carefully at where each of the parties stand on climate change. Our future depends on it.