What can I do?

When engaging people in discussions on climate change I always get asked ‘yes ok, but what do you want me to do about it?’. They look at me as if the things I suggest aren’t going to make the slightest difference. Most people seem to fail to recognise the difference that any one individual can make. 

* “What difference can I make when governments and big companies wont make changes?”

* “Does it matter what we do in the UK if other bigger countries won’t do anything to change things?”

* “As if turning off my lights is going to make any difference!”

* “Who are you kidding? If I use my car less it wont help because everyone else will still be using their car!”

* “No-one will care what I think. I’m not important enough to make a difference”

I’ve heard them all. It’s difficult for people to envisage making a difference. But it can be done. Many social movements in the past have started with individuals and produced tremendous change. It is our job as public health professionals to empower patients into making changes to lead healthier lifestyles to enhance their overall well-being. Motivational interviewing, health belief models, stages of change theory… any health promotion models or tools you use in your professional lives can be used in this same scenario. We are asking people to make small changes in their own lives – walk and cycle more, eat more organic or locally produced foods, use less electricity in the home, use the car less – which will as a result begin to have an effect on carbon emissions. 

When patients feel they cant make a difference to their own health, we are the ones who have the skills and resources to help them through this. Lets use the skills we already have to try and make a difference to the climate change problem. And if fellow health professionals want to know “what can I do to help?” there are plenty of resources we can direct them to. The Climate and Health Council have Ten Practical Actions for Doctors which are just as applicable for us nurses. See how many you already do, and how many you think you can take action on today.



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6 responses to “What can I do?

  1. I find that most members of the public don’t realize just how very easy it is to have a say on climate change and indeed any other matters of concern (such as privatization of the NHS), by just visiting their MP’s surgery and putting him/her on the spot, and/or emailing him/her e.g. by using this easy tool: https://www.writetothem.com/ . If people try out preferably both these easy methods it could make them feel “empowered” with a say.

    I’ve made things easy for people with this template email to MPs on a matter that will affect both climate and NHS etc – which can take just a minute to do, or longer for those who want to do more: http://www.bit.ly/FTAemailMP

  2. PeterK

    You still sound very idealistic and I say go for it. Some of your what can I do’s are noble and if they give you enjoyment and satisfaction, hurt no one and benefit someone, then I say go for it.

    Having said that, one must utilize critical thinking. I once was a fence sitter when I first came across the Global Warming / Climate Change meme. When I googled climate change I was amazed at all of the scares postulated that if we don’t do this, then by such and such a year this will happen.

    As I became more involved on the internet researching this subject, I started coming across other blogs that challenged the scares. The more I read the more I realized that Global Warming / Climate change was political and not based on true science.

    Before you totally commit to this belief, I suggest you do some intense research and then form your own opinion. Just because someone said it is so, don’t make it true.

    If you would like me to provide you with http addresses that support the meme and other sites that challenge the meme, reply back to me and I will pass this information on to you.


    • Hi Peter, I am a scientist at heart and encourage everyone to look at both sides before committing to one. Thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment. If you have information which you feel I may have missed in my reading I would love to for you to send it to me as I always like to broaden and deepen my knowledge, especially in subjects which I am interested in. And it’s difficult, as you say, to be truly critical without reading fully. I am at present committed to my cause and am fairly confident I shall remain so. However I am always open to new perspectives, as every scientist should be. Kindest regards, Sarah Timmins.

    • Sarah I hope you don’t mind if I add a response to PeterK’s comment as it is it is so full of errors that need putting right. Firstly I am a scientist with a PhD from scientific research. PeterK your assertion that gw/cc is political in its basis, and not based on science is total nonsense, and here is why:
      The existence of climate change now with man as it current main driver is based on a huge amount of empirical data examined by a huge number of climate scientists, 97% of whom assess that there is a very high degree of certainty that climate change is happening now and that man is currently the main determinant of that change. Note – I don’t write that climate change scientists “believe…” as scientists come to evidence-based assessments or conclusions (that are open to modification as new data/evidence becomes available), not beliefs. It is likely that what you have read PeterK is from misinformed people with a vested interest in the fossil fuel industry, or who wish to ignore science as it does not fit in with their high carbon-emissions life-styles. Except for people in those categories – I doubt if intelligent people will prefer your unscientific assertions PeterK on climate change to those of 97% of climate scientists, and backed up with a huge number of peer-reviewed science papers presenting good evidence.

      • I agree absolutely with what you have written Henry Adams. From my understanding you are correct in your assertions that 97% scientists now agree about the causes of climate change. The evidence you talk about is what I base my current work on with regards to climate change. Of course I always like to balance my views by learning of other’s opinions and looking at alternative research. Upon reading a lot of the skeptics ‘information’ I am yet to change my mind. But it is good to get people talking about these matters, even if we don’t always agree. Talking about climate change, raising it as a topic in conversation may hopefully persuade people to read more and hopefully take action on what they decide is right. Best wishes, Sarah.

      • Yes I agree Sarah, and I too have read climate denialist, and anti-agw stuff, including an entire book by someone convinced the world will fairly soon get cooler (though I don’t see signs of that!). Yes talk and discussion is great; however I hope that media and public attention can shift its focus more on discussing how to cut emissions than be bogged down at the starting block by giving equal airtime and debate-time to denialists.

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