I don’t doubt the laid-bare evidence nor the overwhelming expert testimony that Earth is in for a world of hurt. Climate change is already wreaking havoc on life around the globe. This isn’t an intangible, theoretical possibility. It’s real. You probably know someone who is already being forced to adapt to it, sometimes in the wake of disaster. Heck, that might be you.
But it’s also hugely politicized, and cars have become a part of that philosophical fight. In the midst of politicization, misinformation and plain, old doom fatigue, it can feel helpless even to those of us with the best of intentions. Thankfully — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — the vehicles we drive are only a small part of the climate problem/solution equation. So let’s take it back to basics.
But first, let us acknowledge, that, yes, EVs can make a substantial difference in mitigating our effects on climate change. But don’t go out and buy an EV if you have a perfectly working car you like already. Drive that thing into the ground — or until you feel like passing it along to someone else to drive into the ground — then go buy an EV.
In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do to help mitigate climate change, many of which you were taught in elementary school. Plant a tree, or be mindful in how your lifestyle can help prevent forests from destruction. Fix and reuse everything you can. Reduce your consumption of electricity and unnecessary consumer goods. Ride a bike or walk when you can. All that helps.
Nowadays there are more options that weren’t available when you were taught to simply reduce, reuse and recycle (that last one being a whole ‘nother bugaboo itself). Home solar is more widely available and affordable now, and can make a big difference depending on where you live. Improved HVAC technologies allow us to save money while using less energy. It’s easier than ever to consume less meat with little compromise, which has a bigger effect than you probably think.
It’s also easier than ever to save energy at home with things like LED lights and energy-efficient appliances. Do what you can to preserve green spaces, whether it’s voting, donating or spending your money on entrance to a national park. That weekend trip to your state’s hidden gem will save you money — and carbon emissions — compared to a flight somewhere. Invest in globally and socially responsible companies. Encourage your kids to take interest in science — they just might find the breakthrough we need.
It’s never too late to do something, but it’s already too late to do nothing. And we should maybe think about doing all we can at this point if we want a habitable future for our grandchildren. EV’s aren’t a panacea; they’re a minority but critical part of the solution, at least for now. But there are simpler and more impactful things we can be doing than changing what we drive to help stave off climate destruction, at least until we can find a technological silver bullet or give up altogether.
Of course, not everybody can do everything, especially all at once. And even myself and like-minded climate realists won’t take every helpful mitigating action until it becomes inconvenient not to. But it’s more convenient and self-beneficial than ever before to reduce your footprint.
You don’t have to give up the good life to help preserve the climate.
Start by picking the easy things you can do to help. Find the ones that sound fun, or at least inconsequential to your current quality of life and convenience. Do consider an EV for your next car, but only if the economic and practical reality means it’ll fit your lifestyle. Maybe you’re a one-car household, and you drive too far for work, family and recreation for an EV to make sense where you live, especially considering infrastructure constraints. At least for now, especially if there's something easier or more impactful you can do to shrink your footprint.
You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to do anything, either, but that’s not going to help our grandchildren live in a better world. But if you want to, there are things you can do, and they don’t have to be burdensome, or be some sort of political referendum on the American lifestyle. They can even be fun (like making you next car an EV — you’ll love it). And we should probably all at least be doing something. It’s never been easier.