Climate change gets personal. Can one individual make a difference?

Why We Wrote This

When we asked readers how they think about climate change, we received dozens of responses from people who see themselves as part of the solution. While world leaders negotiate national climate commitments, we explore the role of the individual in climate action.

Michael Probst/AP
A woman rides her bike to work in the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, early Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019.

Dear readers,

World leaders are convening in Madrid this week and next for climate negotiations. Each nation brings to the table its own perspectives, values, and needs. But for the 197 signatories of the landmark Paris climate agreement the global nature of climate change demands a unified response.

This 25th United Nations climate summit is undergirded by a mounting sense of urgency. Last week Europe’s Parliament declared a “climate emergency,” just days after a U.N. report cautioned that our current course could lead to a world where average temperatures surpass preindustrial levels by more than 3 degrees Celsius. The Paris accord aims to hold warming to 1.5 degrees.

While delegates negotiate this week and next, we are exploring the role of the individual in tackling this global challenge. 

When we asked readers this fall how they think about climate change, we received dozens of responses from people who see themselves as part of the solution. Cynthia Kuest of DeLand, Florida, writes that she vowed to drive less after reading about changes in Alaska’s permafrost in a Monitor cover story. She sold her car in August and outfitted her bike for messy weather. 

“One benefit I discovered by riding my bicycle,” she says, “is that I am connecting more with people in my community.” 

Check back here throughout the summit for additional features.

Part 1: What can you do about climate change? A chat with Monitor reporters.

Part 2: Why you should talk about climate change – even if you disagree

Part 3: Not just Greta: Young people worldwide take charge on climate

Part 4: One diet fad scientists hope will catch on: climate-friendly eating

Part 5: How much can one person do to limit climate change? A graphic.

Part 6: Help wanted: Minneapolis recruits residents in the climate fight

 

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