10 things you can do RIGHT NOW to help the fight the climate crisis

Jacob White
4 min readFeb 16, 2021


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Climate change is here, it’s bad, and collectively we aren’t currently doing enough to stop it. The good news? We know how one way to curb global warming: reduce our carbon footprint.

In order to keep in line with the guidelines of the Paris Climate Accord, we have to keep our total carbon emissions below a certain level. This level is set such that the total warming as compared to pre-industrial levels is capped at 1.5 C. It’s hard to calculate the exact amount of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases that would warm the Earth by exactly this amount, but a good estimate is about 500 billion tons. Taking into account a world population of 7.7 billion people, and a goal of reaching net neutral emissions by 2050, then each person on the planet has a “budget” of 2–3 tons of CO2 emissions per year to give us a 50–50 chance of not passing this warming mark.

Check out this calculator from the EPA to get an estimate on what your total emissions are.

Long story short, we need to cut our emissions. But what can you do? Well, a lot actually. There are many ways you can reduce your total carbon footprint and help tackle the climate crisis but here are 10 ways you can make an impact right now.

#1 Contact your members of congress

In the US, you have 2 Senators and 1 member of the House of Representatives — and they work for you! Write or call them and tell them to prioritize climate initiatives. As a constituent, you also have the ability to request meetings with your congressperson. Take advantage of this and let them know what you think needs to be done. If you do not live in the US, you likely still have elected government officials that will take input from their voters. Contact them and tell them to prioritize combating the climate crisis!

#2 Contact your local representatives

Don’t forget about your local representatives! Your state legislators, mayors, governors, and city council members have a lot of influence over local resources. Contact them and tell them what green initiatives you want in your community. They are more likely to be able to address the more local issues, such as access to recycling facilities, than your representatives in the federal government.

#3 Fly less

Flying is one of the biggest sources of carbon emission that an individual can have. For example, a round trip flight from New York to LA produces about 1 ton of CO2 per passenger. If you take 2 of these trips a year then you’ve already used the allotment of your yearly carbon budget to curb warming as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

#4 Eat less meat

Food also has a carbon footprint. Meat, and in particular beef, has much higher associated carbon emissions than most fruits and vegetables. A vegetarian diet is better for the environment, a vegan diet is best. You don’t have to do it all at once. Start off with “Meatless Mondays” and go from there. It starts to add up!

#5 Take public transit

Trains and buses can minimize a community’s carbon emissions. They carry a lot of people and sometimes, like with electric trolleys, can do it without burning fossil fuels. You can usually buy a monthly/yearly pass and sometimes workers in specific industries or students will get one for a discount — or even for free!

#6 Reduce, reuse, recycle

We’ve all heard the saying — now live by it! First off, look at ways to reduce the wasteful things you buy. Then, find ways to reuse when possible. Turn that old t-shirt into a rag, use the glass containers your food came in to store grains. After you’ve extended its lifetime through repurposement, recycle it.

#7 Use energy efficient lighting

The next time you need light bulbs, look into LEDs. These types of lights use much less electricity than an incandescent bulb or even compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They do cost a little bit more, but you end up saving money in the long run on your electric bills.

#8 Investigate your power company

Do some research on the company that provides your electricity. If you have options, you can choose a different provider than offers energy from renewable sources. If you don’t, then maybe your current provider has an option where you can have partial renewable energy sources deliverable to you. If you have none of these options, see points 1 & 2 and contact your reps!

#9 Turn up/down the heat/air

Heating and cooling of your home is often the biggest contributor to your electric bill and a few degrees can make a big difference. If you set the thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter and a few degrees warmer in the summer you can cut out a lot of carbon emissions.

#10 Encourage others to be more sustainable

A significant way to cut carbon emissions is to educate others on how to live more sustainably. This can include simple approaches such as telling friends/families about ways to cut their own emissions, or more significant approaches like starting a sustainability committee at your work/school/local organization. There’s a good chance your place of employment isn’t doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint. By forming a committee that will specifically look at addressing this, you can have a huge impact on many people’s total carbon footprint.

Yes, to fully address the climate crisis we need drastic structural change in all aspects of life. But there are things that you and I can do right now, which add up, and will help make a difference.



Jacob White

Dr. Jacob White is a software engineer working on atmospheric modeling and satellite data calibration. He has a PhD in astrophysics and is active in scicomm.