2017 will be remembered for extreme hurricanes, fires, and floods that pummeled communities coast-to-coast. These record-breaking events also made 2017 the costliest disaster year in U.S. history. Even places, both in the U.S. and beyond, that didn’t suffer acute disasters felt the strain of record-breaking weather patterns.
While it is impossible to directly attribute any one of these occurrences to global warming, it seems safe to say that we are feeling the impacts of climate change. Over the next years and decades these trends will continue and escalate: more frequent, intense versions of the weather patterns we are familiar with will become the new normal.
If you have been following climate science over the years, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise, although the transition from the theoretical to the practical may be jarring. Decades of under-ambitious and failed attempts to avoid dramatic climate change have brought us exactly where scientists warned us we would be without intervention.
If you spent years voting in favor of climate-smart politicians and policies and reduced your own carbon footprint, it is natural to lose faith in the process. So what do you do now? Philanthropists have a key role to play in preventing the worst possible outcomes of climate change. Here are some ways that you can continue to fight against increased emissions and help others cope with the consequences of climate change.
Areas To Make An Impact:
- Infrastructure Improvement: 2017 highlighted the importance of disaster-ready infrastructure. Each dollar spent on improving infrastructure can have many-fold financial returns and save lives. This article focuses on climate resilience in the American South, but the principles within translate to any location.
- Green Development: Developing countries present unique opportunities to build climate-smart and sustainable solutions from the ground up. The Bright Funds Foundation Climate Fund is already financing projects around the world for climate change mitigation and adaption.
- Climate Justice: The reality is that those who cause climate change and those who suffer from it are not the same people. Carbon footprint is generally correlated with wealth. Poor individuals cannot afford a high-carbon lifestyle nor can they afford to escape the effects of climate change. This is true in the United States and on an international scale. When you look to donate to causes, keep in mind who needs the most help and support. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors offers climate justice insights for funders.
- Displaced Persons: Climate refugees are already making their way from uninhabitable homes to find a new place to live. Rising seas and extreme weather will continue to force people from their homes. Offering political, financial, and resource support to refugees will help those displaced by climate change to settle into a new life. Learn more about climate displacement from the United Nations Foundation.
Continue To Work On:
- Policy Solutions: Keep supporting efforts for emissions reductions on the local, state, federal, and international level. Ultimately, the collective effort will always be the place where the most significant change is possible.
- Market Solutions: Support low-carbon and carbon-neutral businesses. After government, businesses offer the most significant potential for reduced impact. Avoid greenwashed efforts and look for companies that are truly following through on their promises.
- Individual Solutions: Live a low-carbon life. Just because your impact is small does not mean that it isn’t worth minimizing.
Original contribution by Clarissa Coburn
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