Five things individuals can do to fight climate change

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Can individual actions solve a global problem?The pandemic has offered the world a test of that question. On one hand, the choice to wear a mask and stay socially distant can have huge repercussions in spreading or containing the virus. At the same time, it’s clear that some problems—PPE shortages, the pace of vaccine development, understaffed hospitals—are beyond the ability of any one person to fix.Climate change faces a similar dilemma. In a recent Yale poll, two-thirds of Americans said they felt a personal responsibility to reduce global warming. Yet while there are things everyday people can do to reduce their carbon emissions, it’s clear that “solving” climate change will require an unprecedented overhaul of the global energy system. And social systems will need to adapt to the climate impacts that are already locked in, including sweeping reforms of urban design, housing, and healthcare.In fact, the pandemic offered perhaps the best proof of this yet. Although global carbon dioxide emissions fell dramatically during the peak of lockdown—essentially a simulation of what the world would be like if everyone did their personal best to cut their carbon footprint—it was far from enough. …

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