GOOD

Debunking Doomsday

Why making people feel bad just makes global warming worse.

On Monday, New York Magazine published an exceptionally terrifying story about climate change — but chances are, you already knew the bad news: 2016 was the hottest year on record. New Orleans and Miami will be underwater by the next century. Odds are, we’ll see our last wild polar bear by the time we elect our 50th president. No wonder so many of us feel helpless when it comes to the future of our planet — if there’s nothing we can do to address impending disaster, what would we gain from even trying?


Plenty, according to a growing number of organizations and climate scientists who contend that global catastrophe is far from inevitable, especially if we reframe the conversation. “Cognitive science shows that promoting doom and gloom does nothing,” says Sarah Shanley Hope, executive director of The Solutions Project, a nonprofit that essentially functions as a cheerleader for people, organizations, and policymakers who want to stop climate change. That’s because humans are hardwired to avoid failure at all costs, according to research into apathy and inaction from Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Although a fear-based appeal might attract your attention, it’s an ineffective tool for motivation, either stopping you in your tracks or actively prompting negative behavior. A dire climate warning has the power to turn a conscientious recycler into someone who no longer sees a reason to avoid Styrofoam cups.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Evidence reveals that when problems are presented as solvable, we’re much more likely to change our habits for the better.[/quote]

Fortunately, the evidence reveals that when problems are presented as solvable, we’re much more likely to change our habits for the better — especially if we’re given some guidance and a set of manageable tasks. “Solutions overwhelmingly move people to action,” says Shanley Hope, who with her team of civil engineers, decided to see if she could find a way to slow down global warming. After years of intensive research into a variety of climate innovations, she realized that the end of climate change was in sight. “The technology is ready. When the political barriers are removed, it’s even affordable,” she says. What the world really needed was a plan.

So in 2014, The Solutions Project released a 50-state roadmap for completely replacing coal, oil, and natural gas with wind, water, and solar energy — and it will be followed up with customized game plans for 138 more countries this fall. So far, New York, California, and Iowa have already partially adopted the group’s recommendations, which pinpoint achievable, cost-effective improvements to local jobs, transportation systems, and infrastructure, along with easy behavioral shifts for individuals, such as minimizing beef and dairy consumption.

Paul Hawken, co-founder of Project Drawdown — a coalition (named after a greenhouse-gas-reducing process called “climate drawdown”) comprising climate scientists, policymakers, and business leaders — agrees that reversing the effects of global warming is within our reach, and it can be done using tools that are already at our disposal.

More of a life coach than a cheerleader, the coalition spent a decade measuring the carbon impact of everything from our lighting systems to the family planning methods traditionally taught in schools. The organization recently released an eponymous book detailing their learnings, along with what Hawken calls 100 “no regrets” tactics that, if deployed at scale, would make the world a more secure, healthier, richer place without discernible downsides. Carbon-negative approaches, which bypass gradual behavior and policy changes by physically removing carbon from the air and turning it into construction materials or fertilizer, will be a key focus.

In the meantime, the more average citizens think about climate change as something to be addressed, rather than as something that will wipe our species off the planet, the more likely it will be for these solutions to be implemented worldwide. Both small-scale behavioral modifications and major political commitments are only possible if we focus on tangible ways to change course. So let’s stop talking about the apocalypse and start discussing our game plan.

Features
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet