According to authoritative research, the world could save $26 trillion dollars by 2030 if we were to shift to a sustainable economy, meaning one that can continue to grow without threat to health and homes. The reason this might seem unbelievable is because for decades we’ve been bombarded with corporate messages saying “we just can’t afford alternative fuels” or that we really need to buy certain things to be happy. Sooner or later, humanity must learn to live sustainably or it won’t go on living—that’s what “sustainable” means. But what can you do to help ensure your grandkids and great grandkids will have a world worth living in?
First off, check voting records and vote not so much for party, but for who is doing something to help you and our future generations. The website govtrack.us/congress/votes shows what bills have come up in Congress and how senators and representatives voted, but also check out where the money is coming from for election campaigns. Visit fec.gov/data/ advanced/?tab=candidates to see the data that is actually reported, or votesmart.org. Do your own research to get to the facts and see who might have vested interest in helping companies instead of the people of this country.
Next, send letters and emails, and make phone calls to express your views. Let your senator, representative and even the President know how you feel about issues. You may only be one voice, but you might be one of many, which means your opinion counts. But it only does so if you voice it. If you want a future for the next generation, say so.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate was created in 2013 to examine how the international community could achieve its development goals within the constraints imposed by climate change. This group of experts recently cranked out the 2018 New Climate Economy Report, which, based on sound science, states that shifting to sustainable technologies and techniques would save trillions of dollars through 2030 in increased productivity, innovation, and reduced health costs.
The report says that a good first step would be for governments to roll back fossil fuel subsidies. The US government gives 4.6 billion of your tax dollars to already wildly profitable fossil fuel companies each year, and that's a spending that could be cut. The other problem is that reliance on foreign fossil fuels means our economy is tied to the whim of other countries—right now Russian and OPEC are slowing oil production, meaning prices are going up. Many other countries are going to geothermal, wind, and solar for the simple reason that it means they have better control over their own economies. That makes sense. So does voting for someone more interested in future generations having a future. But there's another way to vote.
You can vote with your money. Support companies that are working to do the right thing—buy from them. Newsweek, Forbes, and Barron's all track companies that are working to make certain their companies don’t just make a profit, but also make sense for having a future. These may be companies with innovative ideas, or policies about investing in the future, or companies that seek to reduce waste and harmful products. Shop around more. Look for products with the recycled label, or for the organic food products, and maybe skip using any pesticides or weed killers in your garden.
The websites ibuyamerican.com, strictlyusa.com and madeinamercia.com all offer products made here in the US—meaning there is less fuel used to transport these goods across oceans. Consumer Reports also reports on what products are made here in the US, which both helps to create jobs here and is a step toward a more sustainable economy. Their website consumerreports.org not only reviews products, but has great tips to save you money, keep you informed, and look at what products have value instead of what's headed for a landfill when it breaks in a year. Remember, every dollar you spend is a vote for a better future, so think about what you're buying and who you're supporting with your money.
The dramatic increase in floods, wildfires, droughts, and extreme temperature events caused by fossil fuel exhaust will continue to worsen unless we take actions to move to a sustainable world. And if we all do a little bit more, that adds up to a whole lot of good.