How to help the environment in the best way, according to climate experts

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As the conversation about climate change and the environment continues to heat up, many people wonder — can one person really make a difference? What can I be doing to help the earth?

“It’s not like we’re in the ’90s anymore — I’m not going to tell people to switch their light bulbs and that it’s going to stop climate change,” said Jerome Foster II, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

“GMA” spoke with five climate activists and experts to ask them about some of the best things individuals can do to help out the environment. It’s important to note that all five resisted the notion that the bulk of the work rests on individual action and making household or lifestyle changes, and emphasized that larger community action, organizing, voting and working together are what will truly lead to big changes in the climate crisis.

The activists and experts include:

Peter Kalmus: Climate scientist at NASA, author of “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark ad Climate Revolution”

Mitzi Jonelle Tan: Youth climate justice activist from the Philippines

Jerome Foster II:Executive Director of 1 Million of Us, member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Dr. Dawn Wright: Chief scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)

Harriet Shugarman: Executive director of ClimateMama, author of “How to Talk to Kids about Climate Change”

The 5 best things to do for the environment:

PHOTO: Campaigners protest during a climate change action day, Sept. 20, 2019, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Campaigners protest during a climate change action day, Sept. 20, 2019, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

1. Speak up publicly about the climate crisis with a sense of urgency to your community

“The most urgent thing we need to do is sound the climate alarm and spread awareness that it’s an emergency. It’s hard to get policies and policy changes and systems change if the public doesn’t view climate and ecological breakdown, as, you know, a top priority.” — Peter Kalmus

“The largest impact you can have as American citizens is to call your member of Congress. Everyone says this, but rarely anyone does it. When I interned with Congressman John Lewis, we only had like 30 to 35 calls that came in every single day, and he was one of the most famous Congress members. I’d have to tally up every time someone calls and says “five more calls about the environment!” If five people call about one issue, that’s going to be the thing that he says, ‘Oh, I have to focus on that, because that’s what my constituents are saying.'” — Jerome Foster II

Thousands of young activists to march in Global Climate Strike

2. Join forces with climate activist groups that align with your values

“One really important thing you can do is join the movement. … We have amazing stories of resistance, and we have been fighting back, and we need you to fight with us and to join us in this fight, because we need everyone in this global movement.” — Mitzi Jonelle Tan

3. Take the initiative to educate yourself on climate issues: ones that impact your community and across the globe

“If you have the time, just read the Green New Deal. It’s 14 pages. In those pages, you get an entirely new outlook on what the climate crisis is.” — Jerome Foster II

“I’d like to recommend three books that are about the environment so as individuals, we can educate ourselves on what we can do individually and that this is really one of the big issues of our modern age.”

  • “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis,” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

  • “The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here,” by Hope Jahren

  • “Under the Sky We Make: How to Be Human in a Warming World,” by Kimberly Nicholas

—Dr. Dawn Wright

4. Take steps to reduce your own carbon footprint, but know that’s only a piece of the puzzle

“One of the biggest things that people can do in their personal life is eat less meat. The fact that they burn methane, which is…



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