Story at a glance

  • Climate activists say there are numerous things an individual person can do to combat human made environmental issues, but the best go beyond recycling.
  • Five activists spoke with CBS’s "Good Morning America" to illuminate understanding around the climate crisis and the steps people can take when joining the fight.
  • "One really important thing you can do is join the movement," said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a youth climate justice activist from the Philippines.

Climate activists say there are numerous things an individual person can do to combat human made environmental issues — but the best go beyond recycling. 

Five activists spoke with "Good Morning AmericaThursday to illuminate understanding around the climate crisis and the steps people can take when joining the fight. Overall, the activists stressed the importance of large-scale, organized efforts. 

"The most urgent thing we need to do is sound the climate alarm and spread awareness that it’s an emergency,” said Peter Kalmus, climate scientist at NASA. “It's hard to get policies and policy changes and systems change if the public doesn't view climate and ecological breakdown, as, you know, a top priority."

Additionally, according to Jerome Foster II, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, citizens should contact their elected representatives: “Everyone says this, but rarely anyone does it.”


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The next step in the climate battle is to align with a particular organization. 

"One really important thing you can do is join the movement,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a youth climate justice activist from the Philippines. “We have amazing stories of resistance, and we have been fighting back, and we need you to fight with us and to join us in this fight, because we need everyone in this global movement."

Then, read a book, said Dawn Wright who is chief scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute — or even a pamphlet. 

"If you have the time, just read the Green New Deal. It's 14 pages. In those pages, you get an entirely new outlook on what the climate crisis is,” Foster added. 

The final pieces of the puzzle come down to things a person can do on an individual level to reduce their own carbon footprint. A person could eat less meat, Foster said, adding it is far more practical than quitting “cold turkey.” 

“So I try to say if you can reduce eating meat to once a month, that’s amazing,” Foster said. “If you look at what's happening to our environment, like if you're passionate about that, that's like a small cut that you can make.” 

But finding a source of pleasure when fighting climate challenges might be the most effective means of reducing one’s own footprint while invigorating and prolonging their own activism. 

"I like to say that we need to plant seeds, literally and figuratively,” said Harriet Shugarman, executive director of ClimateMama. 

“There's nothing like going out with your kids, whether it's in a window box in New York City or in a big garden somewhere out in the country and planting seeds and watching them grow, and seeing the power of nature to do that,” Shugarman said. 


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Published on Apr 16, 2021