How Individual Choices Affect Climate Change

Can average folks, like you and I, become active in the fight to reduce the cause and impacts of climate change? Can the choices we make improve our environment? You bet!

Climate change impacts seem too global or too far in the future for most folks to think about. Family, financial and social obligations often take priority over environmental concerns. It is our responsibility as part of “One Human Family” to make sure that we are well informed and make good environmental choices for our community right now and in the future.

First we must determine the greatest and most immediate environmental risks that will impact our community. In the Keys, sea level rise is one of the greatest threats. What can one person do about rising seas?

Sea levels rise slowly, but homeowners, concerned citizens, and businesses must all study the potential and expected impacts of flooding. We can prepare for potentially flooded areas by looking at tools such as the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer. You can also check the Sea Level Rise Sketch Planning Tool from the University of Florida, Army Corp of Engineers and other agencies.

“Hardening” techniques can be simple such as improved drainage, but investments such as raising infrastructure like roads and building can be costly. Monroe County is just finishing an elevation study of all the roads to determine which will need to be addressed first. See what the county is doing at But what can an individual do?

Robert McCleery, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in wildlife ecology and conservation, led a team of researchers who found that nearly half of the habitat of the endangered marsh rabbit in the Florida Keys was lost due to rising sea levels. UF/IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones

People like you and I must encourage ordinances and regulations to allow efficient and cost effective measures to protect private and public property from flooding. Participating in initiatives to reduce pollution is another essential step to improving the quality of our air, water, and soil.

Reducing an individual’s use of plastics, reducing energy consumption, reducing water uses, and plant based diet are all meaningful activities to make people and this planet healthier. However, individual and collective activism to reduce the energy and encourage innovation can immediately improve our quality of life.

Sea level rise cannot be stopped entirely, but it can be slowed by limiting the amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere from human activities. The United States is the second leading country in carbon dioxide emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels. Transportation and energy production are large carbon emitters in Florida (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018). This means that the people of Florida can reduce the state’s energy consumption through their everyday actions. With knowledge and technology you can reduce your carbon footprint. To find tips and recommendations about what changes you can make in your home visit the UF/IFAS Energy Efficient Homes series.

Our collective goal must be to stabilize our climate by preserving and protecting our environment.

For more information, please contact Alicia Betancourt, Extension Director for the UF/IFAS Monroe County Extension, 305-292-4501 or


Posted: April 26, 2018

Category: Conservation, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Choices, Climate Change, Individual

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