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SUSTAINABILITY FORUM on What Individuals Can Do

By David Biello, Josh Lasky, Mat McDermott, Bill McKibben, Christopher Mims, Paul Steely White, Eric Zencey | Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs | September 23, 2011

CREDIT: William Murphy (CC).

As part of our third annual SEPTEMBER SUSTAINABILITY MONTH, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs presents the last of three roundtables on sustainability.

Forum Editor, Evan O'Neil


Climate change is a collective problem, the sum of millions of individual choices. The long-term and global scope of the issue can be intimidating, yet the moral imperative to act now is clear.

People are already perishing of extreme weather and drought-induced famine. Habitat loss, pollution, and over-harvesting threaten the ecosystems we depend upon and the species that share our Earth. Island nations are being swallowed by the sea.

What is the most important thing a person can do to have an impact? From consumer purchases to political action, how should we prioritize the solutions at our disposal?


As Individuals We'll Lose
Bill McKibben

You simply can't make the math work to solve climate change one household at a time, or one campus, or one congregation, or one anything. You have to get organized.

Get Out Your Electric Bill, Then Get Out and Vote
David Biello

After auditing and reducing your personal energy consumption, the most important thing you can do to be sustainable is: Vote.

Individual Responsibility Is a Trick Question
Josh Lasky

There is a fundamental human virtue, often overlooked, that can unlock the immense potential to develop sustainable and satisfying systems.

Understanding the Expanded Self
Mat McDermott

Changing our technologies is necessary, but without also changing our metaphysical relation to the planet, technological change will bring only superficial results.

Start Building a Transition Ark
Christopher Mims

Until we start acting like climate change is the actual emergency scientists tell us it is, nothing will get done. We need to kick into adaptation mode, now.

Tap the Power of Local Motion
Paul Steely White

With Washington under the sway of climate change deniers, it is easy to feel despondent. The cure is to focus on winning real results where you live.

What You Measure Is What You Desire
Eric Zencey

We need to maximize not GDP but the economy's sustainably delivered well-being. Before we can maximize it, we need to measure it.

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