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Maja's Blog: Is individual change enough to prevent climate change?

By SarahWhelan 13 Mar 2020

Although some time ago climate change used to be considered as a conspiracy theory, today we all know that, unfortunately, it is very real and undoubtedly happening. We hear here and there that it is a serious topic and should not be omitted when discussing politics and our everyday lives. However, most of us don’t take it all seriously. We probably know who Greta Thunberg is and that we should buy fewer plastic bottles as well as to cycle our bikes instead of using cars to commute to work and university. But we tend to neglect this information or if we don’t, we settle for introducing only these little habits into our lives.

And don’t get me wrong – every change matters and should be highly appreciated as well as mirrored by the part of society that still does not do anything at all. 


But, if we really care about making a difference and want to help to prevent climate change, which seems to be inevitable, we need to think and act bigger. And I am not thinking about sacrificing our personal well-being and comfortable living by taking trains everywhere, walking or cycling even if the weather is terrible or stopping consumerism whatsoever. Studies show that all these changes, even though may sound significant and important, don’t matter much when looking at the bigger picture.

They are often compared to fumes that go into the air during the fire. Sure, we can take a massive blow-dryer and blow them away making them disappear. We have the feeling of action and we use our energy and resources to get rid of these fumes. Unfortunately, the fire is still on.

To put out the fire, we need water, lots of water and more help coming from qualified firefighters. Only then, we will be able to stop it. 

a group of people in front of a sign

The same thing happens with tackling the climate change. We need more resources and help that is coming from ‘the top’. It means that we need government and politics to engage fully and genuinely. We can’t blame individuals for their actions, especially when the more sustainable alternative is often way more expensive and inconvenient. If government gives us a good, cheaper option that stands in line with pro-ecological values, more people will be likely to take advantage of it. 

a close up of a bottle

So how I, the individual, can help to influence global politics:

There are many options. You can vote for these candidates who want to support the anti-climate change policy. You can go and participate in protests and canvasing in your local area. If you have time, you can go and join a bigger activist group such as ‘Extinction Rebellion’ or, if you have financial resources, support one of these organisations by donating as little as one pound. Because experts who deal with this problem on a daily basis agree that a massive action caused by the change of policy is the only way of preventing the climate change.

However, they also agree that individual change and action is important too and should go together with structural, collectivist shift. The key point here is not to focus on being 100% ‘zero waste’ as it will use up a lot of our personal resources without bringing a real and significant difference when dealing with the whole problem. 

protest climate

We need to spread out our energy and time carefully and in a clever way. Without sacrificing too much of our personal life and health. Try to be realistic and decide which change will be the most sustainable for you. Maybe start with carrying your water bottle instead of buying a new one over and over again. That will cover the individual change for now. And maybe go for a climate change protest.

(Just so you know – the next one is happening on the 3rd of April).

This way you’ll also contribute to the collectivist movement. And trust me – going out there and meeting new people who have the same attitude as you do, can be a good idea both to spend the day and make a difference.

Choice is yours. Please, just don’t stand by.

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