What is it about?

Climate change is the result of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere resulting from decades of human activity. To mitigate climate change, recommendations such as changes in national policies and massive emission cuts take too long to be implemented. However, behavioural changes, such as using fuel-efficient vehicles or hand-drying clothes, have the potential to take place rapidly and in a widespread manner. The current study considers a range of individual lifestyle choices and calculates their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (in developed countries). The authors recommend four actions which have greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies: eating a plant-based diet, living car-free, avoiding airplane travel, and having one less child.

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Why is it important?

The authors highlight the need to educate adolescents about establishing an environmentally conscious lifestyle, as adolescents can often influence changes in their household’s behaviour. However, the authors also noted that the current high school education system fails to provide guidance and encouragement about high-impact lifestyle changes, in-stead recommending lower impact ones. To mitigate this information gap, the authors investigated a broad range of lifestyle choices and selected the ones with the highest potential to reduce greenhouse emissions in developed nations. KEY TAKEAWAY: The actions of billions of individuals have resulted in the climate crisis we are facing today. To mitigate this crisis, individual actions that can cumulatively create a positive impact on the environment are the need of the hour. The existing public education and communication structures need to take this into account while designing their resources.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions, Environmental Research Letters, July 2017, Institute of Physics Publishing,
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541.
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