Five Steps to Take Today
Swap tailpipes for pedals: Bike or walk instead of driving, especially for trips less than two miles, which comprise 40 percent of all car trips. A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that if everyone did this in just 11 cities in the Midwest, not only would carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fall, but it would extend 1,300 lives and save $8 billion in healthcare costs due to better air quality and less sedentary lifestyles.
Eat less red meat: Producing red meat results in five times more climate-warming emissions per calorie than chicken, pork, dairy or eggs, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It also creates 11 times more emissions than the production of potatoes, wheat or rice. Eating less red meat can also decrease an individual’s risk of certain cancers.
Encourage hospitals and doctors’ offices to go green: The healthcare system is responsible for about 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent study in [source.] Hospitals in Boston recently slashed their overall emissions by 29 percent.
Plant more trees: As they grow, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air. Being around green space has also been shown to boost mental and cognitive health.
Show compassion: Americans, per capita, emit six times more CO2 than the global average, while U.S. lower-income populations and those in developing countries are often hit hardest by the health impacts. “Those most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change are often the least responsible,” says Jonathan Patz, a medical doctor who directs the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Doing something about this is a matter of compassion.”