How to Solve Climate Change

I will explain how we solve climate change. It’s simple, but not easy. You might not like what I say, but I’m not wrong. COVID-19 is a lesson.

Sunrise over the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, where humanity began.

In the midst of COVID-19, what good is happening? Extremely rapid innovation, adaptability, and life-saving inventions all over the place. Regulatory and market barriers getting plowed through to get products out to help people in need. Companies working remotely instead making employees face soul-crushing commutes and flights. Companies trusting people to do the best work they can without as much oversight. People everywhere staying at home with their families and talking to loved-ones and friends by video chat. People volunteering to make their communities more resilient. We’re helping our kids with their school work. We’re being kinder to each other. We’re being creative. We’re not just surviving, we’re thriving. And, we even found it’s possible to have more free time.

We’ve done what was previously impossible. All this in the midst of crisis. Magic, huh?

How did all these magical things happen? It’s simple…

We’re allowing COVID-19 to bother us.

It’s really bothering us, right?!? We could have chosen to ignore this threat and accepted the consequences. But, we’ve changed our lives more dramatically than ever before. We’re meeting the challenges and rising above them the best we know how.

COVID-19 bothers us out of fear. Fear of getting sick and dying. Fear of losing the comforts of our familiar lives. And fear bothers us. It really bothers us! Fear is hardwired into all life on Earth because it’s required to survive in a dangerous world. So, fear motivates us at a biochemical level to solve problems as fast as friggin’ possible so we can get back to living our lives. Right?

So, how will we solve climate change?

We need to choose to have climate change bother us.

I learned this approach from working with Astro Teller (CEO of X, formerly Google X), who spoke about moonshots and what it takes to solve a big problem: “Moonshot thinking is choosing to be bothered by that [problem]”.

Note: I’m saying “bother us” rather than “make us afraid” because promoting fear is dangerous and at best a short term strategy. Fear motivates us, but it also drives us to hoard groceries and toilet paper out of a feeling of scarcity and fight-to-the-death competition. It’s not a good solution. Let’s reject that approach, please.

We need to CHOOSE to be bothered by climate change.

We do have a CHOICE. We are not weak. We are strong and we make choices. Stop pretending you’re a victim. You can CHOOSE to rise up. RIGHT NOW.

When climate change really bothers us, together we will rise with such urgency and commitment, power and innovation, and love and collaboration, that we will be able to solve anything we choose. I believe this. We just need to choose it.

Climate change is orders of magnitude worse than COVID-19 for humanity and every other species on the planet. It’s especially horrible for people who are already living in poverty. It’s already far worse than COVID-19. Climate change WILL bother you someday, so please CHOOSE to let it in so it bothers you RIGHT NOW.

Transfer how bothered you are about COVID-19 to bother you about climate change. When COVID-19 ends, we can’t go back to the old ways.

I’m not an expert on climate change so I don’t have all the answers (check out Drawdown). But, here are a few things you can do right now at your work and at home.

RIGHT NOW, companies need to plan and enact policies to dramatically reduce business travel and encourage more working from home. Stick with video conferencing since you’re doing it now during COVID-19. Your employees will be happier and healthier and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.

RIGHT NOW, every food service company, grocery store, and farm needs to create plans to reduce food waste (which can be 30–50% of calories globally) and promote Earth-friendly sustainable products to customers. Businesses have the knowledge, time, and ability to change things at scale, so please don’t rely on consumers to force you into it. Take the lead and the markets will reward you.

RIGHT NOW, we all need to commit to being more conscious of how we spend our time and money. What you’re doing now to keep your stress down and your immune system healthy (sleep, time in nature, exercise, meditation, talking with loved ones, etc.) will keep you centered and able to make choices that benefit you, your family, your company, your community, and the planet. How you choose to do that is up to you. You know best. Just be honest with yourself about what you really want out of this short life you’ve been given.

RIGHT NOW, we all need to shift a bit how we eat. What’s good for us is often good for the planet. So buy organic and local (when possible), which have lower carbon footprints. This means more veggies and fruits and whole grains. Start with eating less beef, it’s the worst for the planet and not good for your heart. Reduce pork too. Learn about your seafood choices as most species are caught unsustainably and thus destroying the ocean (it’s far, far worse than plastic pollution). Don’t be perfect, just be the best you can.

RIGHT NOW, be grateful for what you have. Maybe your health? A home? A family? Whatever it is. You will NEVER have enough if you don’t believe that you ALREADY have enough. The only way to do that is through practicing gratitude. So much good will follow from this and it’s so much cheaper than buying more crap you know you don’t actually need.

So, we will solve climate change by allowing it to bother us as much (or even more) than COVID-19 is bothering us. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

START RIGHT NOW.

One crazy idea…

How about a massive global #ClimateStrike when the “stay at home” orders end?

Don’t go back to business as usual. Don’t go back to work (#WFH). Don’t get on airplanes. Don’t go to hotels. Don’t buy gas for your car. Don’t drive. Support your community.

Make this one hit the stock market so hard (it’ll be temporary) that all our companies and politicians will make changes for the climate. Look how we already have for COVID-19! We’re all partners in this, there are no enemies. We need everyone. So when a company or politician responds correctly, reward them and celebrate them. Others will follow.

We can do this, but only if we do it all together.