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  • Writer's pictureKrista Kurth, Ph.D.

How Do We Tip the Scales on Climate?

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

How you can participate to bring about rapid change

More and more studies are coming out saying that we need to decarbonize quickly if we want to stabilize the climate. But how do we do that?

How do we get to a tipping point in the next five to ten years?

The National Academy of Sciences of the United States recently completed a study that identified a set of interventions, which if implemented, could bring about the swift transformation we need to create a sustainable future.

The researchers concluded that the two overall most important actions we can take to speed up the transition to a net-zero future are:

  • Change our social values and behavior.

  • Make fossil fuels less desirable (both cost wise and morally) to create a shift in investments and demand away from oil and gas to renewable energy sources.

How do we make this happen?

According to a World Economic Forum article on the study, there are six areas we can act in to create the change needed. I have translated their “tipping dynamics” into actionable steps we can take as individuals.

Boost Use of Renewable Energy

  1. Lobby your representatives in congress by writing letters to them or joining campaigns that ask them to remove fossil-fuel subsidies (see campaigns at IISD and Oil Change International; increase incentives for decentralized and renewable energy systems (see Green Energy Consumers Alliance), and make clean energy production and storage systems more economically competitive.

  2. Buy renewable energy for your home. Many utilities now offer an option to purchase wind or solar energy at competitive pricing. More communities now allow for community solar projects in which the public can take part.

  3. Ask your employer to purchase renewable energy for their building/office space.

Encourage Divestment

  1. If you have investments, ask your investment advisor to move them out of fossil fuel related entities and into greener assets. You can learn more from and Green America on how to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in green alternatives.

  2. Write letters to or join campaigns encouraging banks, investment companies and the financial market to divest assets linked to fossil fuels.

  3. Ask large funders of fossil fuel extraction, like J.P. Morgan Chase, to stop financing the oil and gas industry. Find out more from groups like Sierra Club and Rainforest Network and who have reports and campaigns.

  4. Learn about how to avoid holding 'stranded assets' tied to fossil fuels and then talk about it with others. Much of the fossil fuel industry is over-valued (1/3 of oil assets may soon be stranded) if we as a global community are aiming to keep temperature increase below two degrees Celsius.

Build Sustainable Cities

  1. Write letters to your mayor or county executive asking them to purchase renewable energy for city-owned buildings.

  2. Send information from organizations like WRI’s Ross Center on Sustainable Cities to your city council on ways your city can become more green.

  3. Find out if your city is a member of C40 (a network of cities committed to addressing climate change). If not, urge them to join, or if they are too small to join, suggest they learn what they can from the resources the organization provides.

Insist on Transparency and Climate Action from Governments and Corporations

  1. Demand companies and local Government disclose GHG information.

  2. Send letters to executives of large companies, investor groups, and local government officials asking them to make a commitment to setting 2050 net-zero emissions targets.

  3. Ask your employer to join organizations like Mission Impossible that provide information on pathways for industry to get to net zero emissions.

Enhance Your Climate Education and Engagement

  1. Learn more about the climate crisis, its causes, impact, and solutions. Various groups, like Climate Reality, offer presentations. Others, like NASA and Global Change, offer online information on the topic. Groups like Project Drawdown also offer research findings on the best solutions.

  2. Sign up for a blog (like this one!) or newsletter to get tips on how to take climate action. You can select one that suits you from the list in this article.

  3. Commit to taking at least one new action each month.

  4. Invite your friends, family, and colleagues to join you in taking action.

Uncover, Discuss, and Act on the Moral Implications of Fossil Fuels

  1. Study how the ecological crisis is, at its core, a moral one. Our society’s addiction to growth and overuse of resources is creating dire consequences for the planet and us.

  2. Delve into the connections between environmental symptoms and the way society operates. Rethink the unconscious assumption built into our institutional systems that profit is an acceptable justification for planetary disruption and loss of life. A focus on financial returns is unsound if it undermines the stability of life on the planet in getting them.

  3. Explore how your, and society’s, values and use of fossil fuels might harm those who are least contributing to GHG emissions.

  4. Raise the issue of ethical obligation to humanity with comapanies from which you frequently buy items. Write letters to them asking them to broaden their understanding of their fiduciary duty to include the consideration of the future of life on earth.

  5. Do some honest soul-searching and identify where and how you can restrain yourself from overusing resources.

  6. Explore what it would mean for you and society to give up our power over the environment and instead see ourselves as a crucial part of a global ecosystem.

  7. Connect with your love for the planet and your moral responsibility to care for life and talk about it with friends and family.

Which of these six dynamic arenas do you want to work on tipping?

Which specific action(s) will you commit to taking this week?

This week I’m being pulled to learn more about stranded assets, demand J.P. Morgan Chase stop funding fossil fuel extraction, and connect with my love for and moral responsibility to the planet.


I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section. I’ll respond in one of my blog posts.

If you’d like me to notify you when I’ve posted a new article on my blog, please sign up at the bottom of this page. I promise I won’t send more than one email a week.

All the best,

Krista / Eco-Omi

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