Feature | September 27, 2023
The concentric circles of individual climate action
When it comes to climate change, does individual action matter? Emphatically, yes.
While it’s true that eating less meat, biking instead of driving, or planting a tree only does so much to reduce emissions, actions like these are just the beginning when it comes to the impact that you as an individual can have.
Personal climate action looks a lot like ripples expanding out from a pebble dropped in a pond. It starts with what you can do in your own home. But as you expand beyond your own personal space, your sphere of influence and impact grows, too.
If you’re feeling climate insignificant, check out the five circles of climate action below. Start with the innermost circle and work your way out. Notice how, as you move from learning and doing to sharing and advocating, the collective impact of you, your friends, neighbors, and colleagues expands. Soon, what started as a few isolated ripples can coalesce into a wave of change.
Together, we can create the future we want at the speed we need. But it starts with individual action. So let’s get to work.
Familiarize yourself with climate solutions and how you can help deploy them.
Check out the 93 technologies and practices that together can stop climate change.
Watch the Drawdown Roadmap, Climate Solutions 101, and Drawdown’s Neighborhood video series for a comprehensive look at how humanity can halt climate disruption through concerted action.
Alter your own activities to reduce your personal contribution to climate change.
Apply what you learn to become more climate friendly at home, at work, in your volunteer activities and hobbies, as you travel—in every aspect of your life! The opportunities are endless, and every action matters.
Consider the climate impact of your consumer choices, and alter them accordingly.
Check out other suggestions for mobilizing around climate solutions, including those from our partners Drawdown Ecochallenge, Rare, and Don’t Look Up, as well as from Science Moms, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the David Suzuki Foundation.
Communicate the opportunity to make a difference with others.
Bring up the subject of climate change with individuals in your various spheres of influence: family, friends, neighbors, fellow faith community members, etc. Do so in a nonthreatening, nonjudgmental way. For example, you might start by mentioning unusual weather you’re having or a disaster in the news, and wondering if it’s related to climate change.
Before you broach the topic, think about what the other person cares about. Tailor your conversation to connect climate change to what’s most important to them—their hobbies, their family, their health, their values.
Listen to their thoughts. Then let them know the climate actions you’re taking and why. Explain how every person has a unique and important role to play in halting climate change. If they would like to learn more, share the link to this page.
Engage with people from all walks of life, not just those who think as you do. Like identity theft or the global economy, climate change affects everyone, not just environmentalists or those of particular political persuasions.
Urge change makers to go all in on halting climate change.
Think of three people in your sphere of influence who have exceptional impact: lawmakers, CEOs, community leaders, popular artists, social media influencers, journalists, consumer liaisons for brands you buy.
Share with each, in language that resonates with them and what they care about, the importance of stopping climate change—and the evidence we have that it’s possible. If appropriate, start with the five basic facts about climate change): 1) it’s real, 2) It’s us, 3) It’s bad, 4) scientists agree, 5) there’s hope.
Encourage them to check out the Drawdown Roadmap, which details strategies for strategically deploying solutions at the right time and in the right place, reaping multiple benefits, and overcoming barriers.
Point out that climate solutions are not just about climate. They also offer numerous benefits for alleviating poverty, protecting biodiversity, advancing justice, reducing conflict, and more.
Suggest one specific way in which the change maker can exert their influence to contribute to halting climate change.
Enhance your impact by spreading the word.
Let us know what you’re doing to help stop climate change.
If you have additional resources to suggest or strategies to recommend, please pass them along so we can share with others.