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Individual Actions and Climate Change

One of the climate change issues people like to debate is how much of an effect our individual actions can have. Grubler's paper offers a fascinating perspective on that. It models what would happen if we make behavioral changes to reduce energy use - things like ride sharing in electric vehicles, reducing air conditioner and heater usage, eating less meat, buying locally sourced products, telecommuting, planting trees, and so on.

As a result, we're able to avoid catastrophic warming much, much easier than in any other scenario. Living standards rise. We're able to avoid using more extreme measures to fight climate change. We deal with climate change early in the century, and then it's done, and we can move on to bigger and better things.

I know I harp on this a lot, but we have more cause for optimism now than at any other point in my life. We're well on the path to solving the problem of climate change. We just need to do it. We need to adopt clean energy sources, transition to electric vehicles and home heating systems, reduce agricultural and industrial emissions, and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. When we live our lives in a sustainable manner, it makes it easier for us to accomplish those goals. Sustainable living isn't a substitute for other climate change solutions, but it does complement them beautifully.

Astute observers will recognize this as the LED scenario from the IPCC report. Likewise, the SSP2 pathway corresponds to the S2 scenario in the IPCC report.

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