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Climate change: you do not need to know the facts

On the radio this morning one of the guests was asked, "Apart from changing your light-bulbs, what have you personally done about climate change?" and they said "Well it's complex, I don't know all the facts, so... well we've changed our light-bulbs, but..." [done nothing else].

That's a pathetic excuse. You do not need to know the details.

Almost no-one claims to understand the details of international finance, but we still reckon we know what should be done about bonuses, and we make decisions about which bank to put our money in. But the vested interests in the climate debate seem to be succeeding in making things seem too complex for us mere mortals to understand or do anything about.

But it's really easy to know what to do, and you don't need to follow the ins-and-outs. Here's what to do:

  • Avoid international flights
  • Insulate your home, and get a new boiler if yours is ancient
  • Use public transport more often instead of the car
  • Try and choose food that's local and in-season

There's acres of detail available if you want to read more detail, e.g. some tips from New Scientist and this excellent free book about energy but the basic advice is as simple and boring and unchanging as the above stuff.

As an academic researcher I've hated having to avoid international flights. There have been some brilliant opportunities popped up over the past year, to go and do some research visits or go to international conferences - and I've taken up some of them, but some of them I've let slip specifically because of all the international flying that would be involved. And that's my loss. Just like it's a loss to not have the freedom to go flying off on holiday every year, or to have energy-saving lightbulbs that still take a few seconds to warm up to their full brightness which is a hassle.

You can see how it adds up in our brains. Hassle + complex = ignore it for now, maybe think about it later. That's a natural reaction. But the complexity is irrelevant, because we can all do these things we need to, so we need to try.

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