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Solo effort

Solo effort

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Don’t despair: individuals’ actions can have an effect on climate change, SIMON WEBSTER reports. 

Being just one puny person can be a bit dispiriting when you’re trying to tackle a problem as big as climate change.

But from little things, big things grow, as gardeners know all too well, and making small changes can actually have a huge impact, say researchers at Michigan State University in the United States.

By taking 17 steps that would have little effect on quality of life, Americans could reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7 per cent, the researchers found. That’s a lot of emissions – slightly larger than the total emissions of France, in fact.

Aiming to be realistic, the researchers didn’t assume that everyone would make these changes. They based their sums on 90 per cent of people insulating their homes, 80 per cent installing low-flow showerheads and only 15 per cent of people car-pooling.

It’s food for thought. Imagine what we could achieve if we could convince governments to take some action too…

You can read more on this study at Utne Reader and Conservation Magazine. The full report is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A list of the 17 steps can be found here.