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Climate change is the number one threat to mankind. Recent scientific evidence has emphasized, and in many cases exceeded, our worst fears of its physical ramifications. Drought, crop-failure, rising water levels, disease, flooding, famine. These are just some of the environmental issues that climate change is causing.

And it’s not just an environmental threat—these physical impacts result in scarcity of resources (particularly energy, water, and land). Leading experts on the UN Security Council and US Military Advisory Board have warned that the potential security risks of this could involve a breakdown in societal codes of conduct, sheer desperation and, consequently, conflict.

But there’s also the humanitarian side of things. An increase of just half a metre in sea level would put the lives of those residing on the Pacific Islands in serious jeopardy. Moreover, rising sea levels will threaten millions of people, with countries such as Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines expected to be swamped first.

Non-profit organization Climate Central estimates that global warming levels will reach 3C  by 2100. If we allow this to happen, more ice will continue to melt from the north and south poles, sea levels will rise, and areas containing over 275 million people will be flooded.

How are we to tackle such an ominous, all-encompassing issue?

Sustainable Development Goals

People marching holding up Green Energy Now sign
People marching holding up Green Energy Now sign

The United Nations’ response has been the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Set back in 2015, the SDGs are bold, ambitious, and frighteningly important. They are a set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member countries are expected to use to frame their policies until 2030. Their wording is simple, intentionally constructed to appeal to everyone, not just academics and diplomats.

In short form, these are the 17 SDGs:
  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health & Well-Being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water & Sanitation
  7. Affordable & Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work & Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities & Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption & Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships For The Goals

For most of us, these goals sound fantastic, but very abstract. This is a common problem with grand plans and schemes set by official organizations—they overfocus on the big picture, but fail to convey actionable steps and everyday solutions (see our list at the bottom of this article). Crucially, climate change will not be contained by shaming others into action.

One of the biggest causes of the current polarization is people scrutinizing the lives of others, telling everyone else what they ought to do, instead of working on themselves. No-one is perfect, nor can everyone do every single recommended action. Some people need to drive their car everyday (for work, or study, or visiting relatives) and they should not be lambasted for doing so, or pressured into giving it up. But if we can all adopt a few more of these behaviors habitually, it makes a huge difference.

We all know the vital importance of our everyday habits, rituals and routines. Establishing good ones is essential to one’s success, and tackling climate change is no different.

Remember: change starts with the individual. If you incorporate two or three actions from the below list and begin setting the right example today, others will emulate you; your children, or siblings, or partner, or friends, co-workers. Rather than official decrees, this ripple effect is what instigates real change.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of the UN, their SDGs, or any other organization with similar goals. Their work is absolutely essential; I just want to raise awareness of it, and simplify it so that more people can act on it.

And how can you act on it?

Everyday Actions to Combat Climate Change:

Entrepreneur turning off light switch
Entrepreneur turning off light switch
  • turn off lights unless absolutely needed
  • stop paper bank statements (pay bills online or via mobile)
  • air dry (let your hair/clothes dry naturally instead of using a machine)
  • avoid baths and long showers
  • eat less meat, poultry and fish
  • freeze food before it goes bad (saves food and money)
  • compost food scraps
  • buy goods with minimal packaging
  • shop locally (keeps people employed & prevents trucks driving long distances)
  • cycle, walk, or take public transport (save car trips for bigger groups)
  • get a reusable water bottle and coffee cup
  • bring your own reusable bag when you shop (avoid plastic ones)
  • buy second-hand clothes (cheaper, and in equally good condition to brand-new items)

Again, you do not need to radically change your lifestyle by doing all of these actions. Just picking a few will make a cumulative difference. As budding entrepreneurs, Grey Journal readers are of vital importance to the battle against climate change.

In the past, small business owners have (often rightly) bemoaned the restrictions placed on them by environmental policy. That was a big factor in President Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement in 2017. But the SDGs live or die by their interconnectivity. They can only work in combination with each other. If one goal succeeds, another will follow suit.

This is why goals such as #7 (Affordable & Clean Energy) and #12 (Responsible Consumption & Production) co-exist alongside #8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth) and #9 (Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure). Actions taken by individual business owners in support of the SDGs will not result in a loss of profit. To the contrary, such actions boost efficiency and cut costs, in the long-term. And the most successful entrepreneurs think in the long-term, right?

Climate change doesn’t care about political allegiance. It can’t be contained with words. But it can be contained with action. Implement a few of the specific, quick, environmentally significant actions listed above, and you will make a difference.

What steps will you take to help prevent climate change? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.