Global warming is real, and getting faster. The consequences are not only the extinction of millions of species, but the human cost of famine, population displacement, and the associated risk of wars.
Therefore it has to be addressed. The first action you can take is to vote for leaders ready to act upon global warming : for now, most governments (and companies) have been more keen on green washing than on actual action.
Beyond government action, one can still reduce their carbon footprint by 10-30% with simple changes. However, since we are not ready to abandon our current lifestyle, is is important to understand which changes we can do with minimal effort and maximum efficiency.
1- Don’t eat beef and lamb
Yes, this is likely the most effect you can have. The carbon footprint of beef is through the roof, not only because of direct emissions (such as methane), but because of land use. A single 200g steak will emit 12kg of CO2, the equivalent of letting a lightbulb on for… four months. This is mostly independent of how beef is produced !
2- Don’t fly
A transatlantic flight emits about a ton of CO2, i.e. somewhere about a month of your usual consumption. This is the equivalent of letting a lightbulb on for… 50 years. Trains and boats have a lower carbon footprint and can get you pretty far too.
3- Don’t drive
A modern car produces about 12kg per 100km, i.e. 4 months of a lightbulb on.
4- Don’t succumb to fast fashion
Clothing represent about 10% of emission worldwide, and is a huge source not only because of direct emissions but also because of land use.
5- Don’t bitcoin
Bitcoin relies on numerically solving arbitrarily complex mathematical problems, costing a lot of energy consumption, between 10 and 40 million tons annually.
… That other efforts have a much smaller impact, so don’t use them as an excuse. Eating local has very limited impact (emission of food transport are smaller than that of production, and remember the dire cost of red meat). Living outside the city to go to zero-waste will likely cause you to drive more and increase your footprint.
7- Get informed, stay rational
As we saw, the carbon footprint of our daily lives is not necessarily intuitive. It is important to not just think we act, but to act rationally. Get informed, share the information, and act upon that information.
All the numbers I quote, and the sources, are available in this document : https://github.com/SergeDmi/C02/blob/master/index.md