Resources on most impactful individual actions on climate change
November 9, 2016 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I've seen a decent amount of writing about the relatively negligible impact that individual action can have on climate change. Is there any kind of data-based analysis of exactly which individual actions make the biggest difference?

I'm making an individual action plan for myself during the Trump administration. I'm stumped on the best thing to do for climate except, perhaps, funneling my promised tax cut to organizations combating climate change. I want data and research, not just opinions, please.
posted by mchorn to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't researched or vetted these myself, but jezebel has this list which contains some pro-Earth orgs:

A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support
posted by bluecore at 12:25 PM on November 9, 2016

Response by poster: Sorry, I may have been unclear. I'm looking for a data-based assessment of the efficacy of different possible individual actions: for example, recycling versus composting versus solar panels versus living in high-density areas, etc. I'm not looking for specific organizations to support.
posted by mchorn at 12:29 PM on November 9, 2016

I know nothing of the site but this site has lots of info and identifies these as actionable choices individuals can make.

Buy Local
Use less electricity
Drive less
posted by humboldt32 at 12:34 PM on November 9, 2016

I do carbon footprinting for part of my living and have a ton of data - mostly for the UK but starting to have reasonable quantities for the US. We break a typical carbon footprint (based on UNFCCC data - CRFs and NIRs) into a number of categories:
Land transport,
Home energy,
Recycling and waste,
Government and services, and
Everything else.

There's a chunk of any footprint that is really really hard to calculate because it's tied up in moving goods around, non-governmental infrastructure and other bits and pieces. You can get some of the way via Life Cycle Analysis if you know everything you've been doing, everything you've bought - where it comes from and where it's going. But LCA is still relatively new and the number crunching is... fun - I'm just abut to try and do an LCA of a typical US diet... not expecting great things of it.

Anyway, the big things: Flying - cut down, or don't fly. If you drive go as eco as you can - smaller engine, or electric (but there are issues there too...). At home, renewables for electricity and solar PV are the best ways to reduce your footprint. In the UK at least bio-gas isn't really that much in the mix yet, (and we'll not mention nuclear :D). Waste and recycling is a tiny part - for the UK about 4% of indivual emissions. Government and services is a part you can't get rid of, realistically, and hovers around 10% of your footprint.

Then maybe up to 25% is due to consumption... buy less stuff.

I could ramble on, but feel free to MeMail if you want data and more info.

Edit for typos...
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 12:41 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Food choices: reducing meat consumption, switching meat consumption to less demanding forms (chicken over beef, maybe someday cricket over chicken), reducing food waste.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2016

The answers above are good, but I would really focus my efforts on supporting climate activism and climate NGOs, pro-climate political representatives, and writing to your own reps. You can compost and not fly and that's all great, but that is of limited relevance compared to the huge structural changes that we need.
posted by hungrytiger at 1:31 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Driving and flying less, eating less meat, and hanging your clothes to dry are all pretty big in terms of personal actions. Limiting use of air conditioning and heating at home are also good steps to take.
posted by number9dream at 1:51 PM on November 9, 2016

Surely having children is orders of magnitude worse than most things mentioned in this thread so far?
posted by turkeyphant at 2:06 AM on November 10, 2016

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