On Election Day and every other day of the year

Our work to avoid climate catastrophe is just beginning.

In the run-up to today’s election, I kept hearing from climate campaigners that voting was the single most important thing we can do to ensure a liveable future on this living planet. They were right — today. For the other 364 days of the year (excluding primaries, of course), we’ve got more work to do. It takes courage to commit to changing behaviors (starting with our own) and changing society from neighborhood bike lanes all the way to Congress.

In a world hurtling toward locking in disastrous climate change within the next decade, every moment is exceedingly precious. That doesn’t mean we all need to work 24/7 on the transition to a carbon free world — that’s impossible. But we can take a few moments to enjoy friends, family, and nature, especially after such a grueling two years under this pro-polluter administration.

Here’s how to make the task at hand more reasonable: Use the next 728 days until the next presidential election to imagine what life would be like in a world that takes bold action on climate change—a society that prioritizes justice, equality, and the planet—and then devote some time each day to make that a reality.

It’s with practiced, daily action that we can turn small choices into long-term societal change. For me, the most meaningful thing has been to do periodic check-ins with my own carbon footprint and with the kinds of actions that are most effective at reducing emissions. It felt great when my toddlers asked about my “I voted” sticker, but it feels even better to know that my choice to sharply reduce air travel is helping me live a happier and healthier life.

On a bigger scale, policy changes we advocate for should also be those most likely to bring about the changes we need. This year’s Project Drawdown found that educating girls and supporting family planning was the single most effective action to solving climate change, almost twice as effective as half of the world adopting a plant-rich diet (which, let’s be honest, should also happen as soon as possible).

Ensuring that our own actions align with the fastest route to bringing about the world we all need is even more important with the IPCC’s new report. And, not everything has to be explicitly climate-related. Supporting our democracy by helping to make it easier for everyone to vote will also help hold our politicians accountable for their inaction on climate change.

So, if you voted, that’s great! But that’s just the start. There’s still a lot more you can do, every day, to make the dream of a more sustainable world a reality.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline On Election Day and every other day of the year on Nov 6, 2018.

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