Hit This Easy Button on Living Climate Consciously
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Hit This Easy Button on Living Climate Consciously

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Hit This Easy Button on Living Climate Consciously

Tom Steyer is the co-executive chair of Galvanize Climate Solutions, a multi-strategy climate investment firm designed to unlock the generational opportunity of the energy transition. He founded America’s largest youth-voter engagement organization and cofounded a community development bank focused on justice and sustainability.

Below, Tom shares five key insights from his new book, Cheaper, Faster, Better: How We’ll Win the Climate War. Listen to the audio version—read by Tom himself—in the Next Big Idea App.

Cheaper Faster Better Tom Steyer Next Big Idea Club

1. Every person should be a climate person.

In 1981, I worked out of Exxon’s Alaska headquarters and fell in love with the beautiful natural landscape. Twenty-five years later, I brought my family there, excited to share the beauty with them. But it had melted away. I’d read about climate change before, but it seemed distant, on the horizon. This moment was a catalyst for me to re-envision how I could use my experience as an investor and activist to become a “climate person.”

The good news is that everyone can be a “climate person”—if you can work in a climate-related field, that’s great, but there are smaller ways that can make impactful differences if a career change doesn’t make sense for you. How can you apply what you do best to help address climate-related issues?

At the end of the day, large businesses are real drivers of climate change and have a unique opportunity to enact change. Support companies with clear and concrete ESG goals.

2. There’s bad news, but there’s also hope.

Today’s news is a lot to take in, and we all feel and see the impacts of climate change every day. But despite this, there is hope and good reasons to be optimistic for the future.

I draw a lot of inspiration from my parent’s generation, the greatest generation, who banded together in WWII to fight for what was right. My father would tell me that after the war, people did not ask what you did for work; they asked what you did in the war.

We find ourselves in a similar moment in time, like in WWII. We all have to band together now with a sense of urgency to make the changes needed to curb the climate crisis. It’s not going to happen because of twelve people on Wall Street or twelve people in Silicon Valley—it will take all of us.

“We all have to band together now with a sense of urgency to make the changes needed to curb the climate crisis.”

There are some incredible “climate people” who are on the cutting edge of breakthrough cleantech. For example, Tim Heidel, the founder of Massachusetts-based VEIR, invented a lighter refrigerator system for semiconductors that can be solved on overhead transmission lines rather than underground. This will allow standard power lines to carry up to 500 percent more energy.

3. The fossil fuel industry is lying to you.

The fossil fuel industry is lying and keeping us in the dark about the impacts of oil and gas and what is truly possible with clean technology. The fossil fuel industry wants you to think that “green technology” is more expensive, more cumbersome, and less effective—but that’s an illusion.

Fossil fuel executives often promote natural gas as a “bridge fuel” cleaner than coal. To be blunt, this is not true. Natural gas still contributes to a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Oil majors are powerful and have influence in all the halls of power around the world. Their political influence and financial power keep them relevant in the marketplace. Despite all this, investors need to see through this cloud of misinformation. Quite simply, the easiest argument against funding new oil, gas, and coal projects is that they’re unsound investments. Even if all I cared about were financial responsibility to my shareholders, I wouldn’t bet on fossil fuels.

4. Leave the carbon footprint shaming at the door.

Being a climate person doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. First and foremost, carbon footprint shaming doesn’t help anyone—and worse, it can make people feel powerless in the fight against climate change.

There are many myths about what you can and can’t do and what you should and should not be promoting to be a more environmentally conscious citizen. You can enjoy a hamburger and still support sustainable farming. Consider where the meat was sourced from, shop at a farmer’s market, and ask where the farm is located and how the animals are raised. Obsessing over your carbon footprint isn’t productive or sustainable.

“You can enjoy a hamburger and still support sustainable farming.”

However, taking part in the larger movement and making the best choices available to you on an individual level will empower you and give you hope that you have an important role to play.

5. You can start being climate conscious now.

You can reduce your personal carbon footprint: make conscious choices to reduce your own carbon emissions. This can include actions such as conserving energy at home, using public transportation or carpooling, reducing meat consumption, and minimizing waste.

You can also support clean technologies. Consider adopting clean technologies like electric vehicles, solar panels, or energy-efficient appliances. By being an early adopter, you can help drive the market demand for sustainable solutions.

Advocate for change. Use your voice to raise awareness and advocate for climate action. Engage in conversations with friends, family, and colleagues about the importance of addressing the climate crisis. Support organizations and initiatives that are working toward sustainable solutions.

You can vote for climate-conscious leaders. Research and support political candidates who prioritize climate action. Vote for leaders committed to implementing policies that promote renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect the environment.

Get involved in community initiatives. You can join local environmental organizations or community groups working toward climate solutions. Participate in clean-up events, tree-planting initiatives, or community gardens. Collaborate with others to make a positive impact at the grassroots level.

Remember, even small individual actions can contribute to a larger collective effort in addressing the climate crisis.

To listen to the audio version read by author Tom Steyer, download the Next Big Idea App today:

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