What can I do as an individual?

People who have not yet finished my new book Life After Doom might want to “cut to the chase” and ask, “What can I do as an individual about our current situation of multi-crisis, including (but not limited to) climate change and ecological overshoot?”

Those who read (or listen to) the whole book will understand why this question has many dimensions to it, and “cutting to the chase” can actually be a form of bypassing some needed understandings and change in us. In other words, how can I change the situation? can unintentionally lead us to miss this question: how can I change so I bring a better version of my to our current situation?

Still, I’m glad for anyone who is asking what they can do to make a difference.

I love what Bill McKibben often says: “The most important thing an individual can do right now is not be such an individual.” In other words, instead of thinking that your individual actions alone can “fix” our problem, you can join a movement … become part of what I call in the book Team Earth … and band together in groups of two or three or ten or twenty (to learn and support one another as islands of sanity and constructive action).

Then those little bands of two or three can participate in larger movements — like Bill McKibben’s Third Act or Blessed Tomorrow and its partners or the Sunrise Movement.


I also love what Katharine Hayhoe recommends:

Start a conversation about why climate change matters and what people like us can do about it

Join a climate action group (like those above)

Consider where you keep your money … and move your money (and investments) to ethical funds. [I recommend you check out Divest Invest.]

Spark ideas for change at work or school

Hold politicians accountable

Reduce your personal footprint AND make your actions contagious by talking about them. (If you want suggestions on reducing your personal energy footprint, you’ll find great resources at EcoAmerica. It is hard to generalize, but here are the kinds of decisions that are most helpful, in order of impact: live car free, shift to an electric vehicle, fly less (especially long haul flights), use renewable energy, use public transport, increase your home’s energy efficiency, switch to a vegan diet (or begin by reducing meat consumption), get a heat pump, improve your cooking equipment, improve your home heating.

And … of course, VOTE for candidates who take our relationship to the Earth seriously, and encourage others to do so as well. (That means to refuse to vote for climate-denialist candidates and parties.)

I also recommend staying informed by paying attention to journalists who “get it” and following good climate podcasts. You’ll find other recommendations and resources in the Appendices for the book that you can download here.