Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Coping with climate change involves understanding global warming, taking personal action to mitigate the ongoing warming, and above all anticipating disasters and extreme events in order to protect each other and ourselves. So are you already a Climate Coper, or are you on your way to becoming one?
TLDR- You are a Climate Coper if you understand climate change and its consequences for you. You act effectively to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and inspire those around you to do the same. And you adapt to the impacts of climate change. In short, you are ready!
You understand climate change
The first step to becoming a Climate Coper is to fully understand the reasons and consequences of climate change.
In a nutshell, anthropogenic climate change is a phenomenon caused by the massive emission of gases, known as greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere. These gases are often summarised as carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most common (81%), and by extension are therefore referred to as carbon emissions and carbon footprint. The main sources of carbon emissions are:
transportation (truck, car, airplane, ship...);
electricity generation (coal, fuel, gas, and even nuclear and renewable);
But how do these gases cause the global warming we are talking about today? Well, increasing the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere generates an effect similar to the glass of a greenhouse (hence their name), by trapping the sun's heat and preventing it from escaping into space. This simple effect is the reason why each of the last three decades has been warmer than any previous decade since climate records began in 1850.
Moreover, not all countries are equal polluters. Some, such as China, the United States, or the EU, have more responsibility to take towards air pollution and the associated consequences on our climate.
Warming the atmosphere by a few degrees has a series of consequences on our ecosystems and the earth's macro processes. The effects are being felt everywhere, in every imaginable form: melting ice cap, rising sea levels, collapse of biodiversity, extreme weather events, and so on. These effects are already being felt today, and IPCC predictions indicate that they can only increase, more or less depending on our ability to rapidly and sustainably reduce our global CO2 emissions.
You strive for sustainability
If you're a Climate Coper, it also means you are already committed to a more sustainable lifestyle. So you've realised that it's possible for us as individuals to rethink our lifestyles and choices to have less impact on our environment. This means reducing the carbon emissions we are responsible for, but also thinking about the waste we produce every day (garbage, water...).
There are many small actions that we can take on a daily basis. For example, instead of going to work by car, you can explore other solutions such as public transport and biking. On the food side, you can reduce your meat consumption and pay attention to wastes. Reducing energy consumption in your household and switching to a green energy provider is efficient to lower your global footprint.
There are many solutions to be more sustainable, some involving a greater change in our lifestyles, others less so. Everyone applies these changes on different scales, reconciling them with their specific conditions (starting point, needs, services available, comfort...).
By becoming an eco-citizen, by making efforts to reduce your impact on the environment, you probably feel less helpless in the face of the global problem of climate change. You are doing what you can on your own scale to improve the situation, and that's great because it's better that everyone faces these small efforts, rather than just a few people making huge efforts.
You may even already be offsetting your carbon footprint by funding offset projects, or by funding forest protection and restoration. Then you are a carbon neutral Climate Coper. Wow, if the world was only populated by people like you, we might not be here.
You adapt to changes and extreme events
Understanding climate change and taking action to reduce its impacts is something we hear about every day. However, it is not enough to be a Climate Coper. Indeed, climate change is already here, and its effects are already being felt. So we have to know how to deal with it as well.
To do this, the first thing is to identify the climate events (the risks) that we personally face. For example, if you live in a region affected by cyclones or sensitive to heat waves and fires, it is important to anticipate the increase in frequency and intensity of these events in order to protect yourself from them.
Protecting yourself means adapting your life, environment and infrastructure to be resilient. And it also means having response mechanisms in place in the event of an extreme weather event. For example, anticipating a heat wave can result in prevention plans, protecting cities with mini-forests and reforesting roadsides.
You also take your entourage on board
Finally, if you are a model eco-citizen, and a perfect Climate Coper, you influence those around you to push them towards more sustainable lifestyles and help them protect themselves from climate change. Whether it's your family, your friends, your neighbourhood or beyond, you act as a role model and inspire your peers to continually improve.
Welcome to the club, Climate Coper!