Action Changes Things (ACT):  Climate Change

As Brian G. Henning, ethicist and Gonzaga professor, explains, humanity's task is not to be  managers of the planet, leaders of nature and all of creation, but instead to become self-stewards who seek to find a benign, harmonious place within the biotic community. to live simply. to live more meaningfully.  

What does that mean for the actions we might take to help decrease the effects of climate change?  Live with less.  Eat more wisely. Work together.


    We often look at decreasing our carbon footprint as a way to do our part to minimize the effects of climate change.  Shifting our thought process to a more positive paradigm, though, encourages us to look at decreasing our carbon footprint as a way to live more simply and meaningfully.  Drying clothes outside, spending less on air travel, making meaningful choices about where and how we work, and powering up less “stuff”, all carbon footprint minimizing actions, are also ways to a simpler life.

    • Calculate your carbon footprint There are many calculators available but this one includes a simple and advanced version, compares your footprint to that of others like you, and provides some suggestions for reducing your footprint.
    • Another good calculator is at  This one provides many suggestions and allows you to form a team and goals for decreasing your carbon footprint.
    • Think about the suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint.  Which would lead to a simpler, more meaningful life?  Investigate those suggested changes and commit to one or several of them.


    Materialism is not a part of a simple life, and plastics, the packaging of most of our material goods, have surprisingly carbon-intense life cycles. By 2030, emissions from the plastic industry will reach 1.34 gigatons per year (equivalent to more than 295 500-megawatt coal power plants), 

    • Calculate your plastic footprint.
    • Consider suggested changes in your use of plastics, investigate options that are in line with a simpler life, and commit to one or several of them.

    One aspect of being self-stewards, of finding a harmonious place in nature, is to eat more wisely, lower on the food chain and with less negative impact on the rest of creation.  There are massive differences in the greenhouse gas emissions of different foods, as well as differences in their effect on the entire ecosystem through sustainability, viability, and practicality.


    So, how can you change your diet to live more harmoniously with nature?

    • Eat less beef and dairy.  Beef is more resource-intensive to produce than most other kinds of meat.  And while the majority of the world’s grasslands cannot grow crops or trees, they are heavily used for livestock production, meaning additional beef demand will likely increase pressure on forests.
    • Eat vegetarian one day a week.  Animal-based foods overall are more resource-intensive than plant-based foods If all Americans forgo meat for one day per week this would result in the same carbon savings as taking 19.2 million cars off the road for a year.
    • Avoid eating food that is airlifted to your location. These are usually foods with a very short shelf life that have come a long distance.  Eating foods that are in season locally ties you more closely to natural rhythms. 
    • Buy organic whenever possible.  Organic farming prohibits most synthetic inputs, which means reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as well as cleaner soil, water, and food. Furthermore, farmers know that organic and sustainable techniques bring additional benefits, such as increased soil health and fertility,
    • Be less of a consumer and waste less food.  Plan ahead, use your freezer, and be creative!  When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it.  In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.


    If we are to be good stewards of ourselves, to live more in tune with our natural environment, we are called to consider those of us least equipped to adapt to large-scale climate change, those with the least resources (money and health care) available to them.  Consider, too, that those of us with the least resources are also the least responsible for causing global warming. 

    • Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) are at greatest risk of rising temperatures, as they tend to live in "heat islands" where few trees cool the air, and few air conditioners or fans cool the homes. 
    • An increase in severe weather affects the poorest POC who live in hazardous, low-lying areas already lashed by tropical storms which are predicted to worsen as the climate changes.
    • How you are affected by rising sea levels depends on wealth, insurance, and how much your property is worth. Along the California coast they wonder how much to armor the coast, what do you choose to save, and who will have to move?  All questions answered according to your wealth and that of your community.
    • In Northern Kenya, the land has become measurably drier and hotter. Four severe droughts have hit the area in the last two decades, pushing millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival.
    • In Somalia, after decades of war and displacement, 2.7 million people face what the United Nations calls “severe food insecurity.” Drought and precarious fresh water supplies can only make that worse.

    What can you do to help mitigate the effects of climate change on POC here and abroad?


    LEARN more about climate change and racial equity.



    Take the Climate Care Voter's Pledge, vote intentionally for candidates that see climate change and racial justice as important issues, and get others to vote!  Information on candidates is available many places.  Here are some possibilities: the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, and the Washington Conservation Voters.