To the Editor:
The hazy skies and red afternoon sun over Maine lately bring to mind the saying, “We all live downwind.” The horrible fires on the West Coast are brought home to us 3,000 miles to the east, with yet another reminder that climate change is here. Deniers have grown quiet, as almost every day brings new evidence.
For those of us who believe that climate change could bring truly devastating results for our children, it’s easy to despair that so little is being done to combat it, even 25 years after it was brought to our attention. Those who study the politics of societies facing such enormous challenges tell us that real change can only be organized at the national or international level. But after so many years of waiting for them to get around to it, I am inclined to look for hope in a different direction.
I like to believe that people can make a difference through individual actions, and that democracies are led by the voters. Rather than waiting around for industry or government to get their butts in gear, we can all do little things to get the ball rolling. Maybe get a more efficient car or try to combine a few errands into one trip. Perhaps try an occasional meatless meal. Add a little insulation to the old homestead. There are hundreds of little things that can be done. Most of these things will save you money – in fact, almost everything that reduces your impact on the world will save you hard-earned cash. When you do make a change, brag about it to your friends! They may not follow your example right away, but it will plant a seed.
It may be true that such small changes won’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to reducing global emissions, but that’s not the point. The point is that each change makes the next one easier, nudges us out of our rut, makes the situation feel a little less hopeless. Small, accumulating changes can snowball, and eventually get us to a tipping point, the moment when we feel we can work together – individuals, companies and governments – to confront the great challenge facing us.