Will individual actions stop climate change?
Between the Urban Environment Accords signed by over 60 mayors at the World Environment Day conference, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pledge to reduce California’s GHG emissions, 158 other mayors pledging to reduce their cities’ emissions, and carbon-neutral driving, gift-giving, and rocking becoming popular (well, maybe not popular), could it be that sub-national groups of people or even individuals are going to take a leading role in combating soaring emissions?
The answer, of course, is still up in the (hot) air. Obviously if everyone in the world made all of their actions carbon neutral, we’d be all set. But is it reasonable to assume that everyone who has the means (or the disposable income) to afford a climate neutral lifestyle will do so? A shift in climate that’s a long way off may never be enough to get anybody “fired up,” and many people may be deterred by the fact that even if they eliminate all their own carbon emissions, it won’t even put a dent in the several gigatons the world emits.
Hope below the fold …I’m hopeful on the topic for a couple of reasons. Although it’s unfortunate, some effects of global warming are becoming more apparent to people, and more people are realizing that global warming is behind them. Aside from the three visible-effects “hot spots” — Alaska, Siberia, and Antarctica — effects are now being seen in places like Minnesota, where people are changing their livelihoods because of the warmer temperatures (these locations were mentioned by callers on the BBC program Talking Point today, but more on that later).
Also, the trend seems to be going in that direction. While the US as a whole refuses to sign Kyoto because no emissions restrictions are put on the countries it will be competing with in the future, cities, states, and individuals in the US and elsewhere have volunteered to limit their own emissions without pledges in kind from China and India.
My impression is that things are already there in some places, like Japan, where showroom floors “scream not the low, low yen prices, but the low, low kilowatt-hours.”