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Corinne Hanson’s Blog

Saving the Planet One Flow Chart at a Time

Corinne Hanson

Posted June 7, 2013

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We young people love our memes, GIFs and infographics almost as much as we environmentalists love smart, creative ways to discuss climate change and the steps we can and need to take to curb its impact. This flowchart from Climate Desk combines the best of both. In this witty graphic, author James West outlines the actions required to solve climate change, urging readers to “choose your own climate solution adventure.”

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The content isn’t new, but it is right on point. Option 1 concludes that doing nothing is not an option at all, while option 3 relies on the leadership and action of President Obama and the EPA, a plan well vetted by NRDC. Dan Lashof provides a full breakdown of the chart here.  But the most important element of this flow chart might be that it exists at all. The climate policy landscape is a complicated one often wrought with excessively wonky lingo. But climate change doesn’t always have to be a wonky issue. Nor is it a cause we undertake altruistically to save our grandchildren’s future (sure, there’s some of that).  Its impacts are felt everywhere from farmers around the world facing drought to major cities ravaged by storms and fearful of flooding as ice caps melt and sea level rises. Climate change is impacting our generation here and now and will continue to hit hard if we sit idly by. 

An entertaining graphic like this is not only informative in its own right, but hopefully encourages readers to investigate each option further.  It draws attention to the fact that there are real options available to our government and citizens alike. As an individual who cares about the environment, it can be frustrating to switch to high efficiency light bulbs or separate your paper and plastic without seeing the positive impacts of your efforts. But as the flow chart notes, it is this change in our “consumption patterns,” our cumulative impacts, which are so essential to solving climate change. Whether it’s recycling, monitoring your carbon footprint, or pushing your local government or school to divest from fossil fuels, these behaviors matter. 

I’d love to see more instructive graphics like this cropping up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Climate change is the issue of our generation and will define the legacies of today’s leaders. We need to take action every single day.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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