IMG_1105The scientific debate is over: humans are causing global warming.

Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to wildlife habitat, and the natural resources we depend upon for life-sustaining services, like cleaning our air and water and pollinating crops, and recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, boating and hiking.

A report released in April by Berkeley, USC, and Occidental College coined the term “Climate Gap”, meaning the “often hidden and unequal harm climate change will cause people of color and the poor in the United States.”

The report found that, as a result of climate change, minorities and disadvantaged families will breathe filthier air and pay more money for basic necessities while they receive fewer or more irregular job opportunities.

Fortunately, the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County have acknowledged the importance of decreasing our carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide – a “green house gas” – released into the atmosphere) by signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the U.S. Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration.

Yet this is not enough: Mahatma Ghandi once said that “Actions express priorities”.

We cannot expect our Federal, State, and City government to fight global warming without taking action in our own everyday lives.

Here are a few simple and inexpensive ways to fight against global warming:

• Give your car the day off: Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Leaving your car home two days a week can reduce your impact on emissions by 1,590 pounds a year.

• Change your light bulbs and buy energy efficient appliances: Light bulbs matter and so does your thermostat and washing machine. Yearly carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by replacing a regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent (150 pounds), lowering the thermostat two degrees in the winter (2,000 pounds) and washing clothes in cold water (500 pounds).

• Encourage and follow up with your City and County government representatives on Climate Change initiatives like the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.

• Buy local: Buying food and products that are produced locally instead of transported thousands of miles by trucks and ships that emit carbon dioxide.

• Welcome wildlife into your garden: Help creatures adapt to shifting habitats by planting native, pollen-rich plants for bees and butterflies, creating bogs and ponds for amphibians and insect-eating bats, and providing berry-producing plants for birds.

We cannot let future generations down with inaction. Global warming is the greatest threat we face, but it is a challenge we can overcome as long as we make addressing its causes and impacts a priority.