By Dr. Brian Dixon|Nov 28, 2018
Man-made climate change is real and proven. And it’s going to affect our economy whether we like it or not. A recent congressionally-mandated report warns that the U.S. economy may shrink by 10% by 2100 due to climate change.
The clock is ticking.
Climate change skeptics bemoan the economic effects of cutting back on fossil fuels. They claim regulations and any spending to combat climate change will kill our economy. Climate advocates whine about “the system” that prevents comprehensive legislation from passing in time to save our planet.
They’re all wrong. The answer to addressing climate change — and financing solutions — come down to one thing: our health.
Our personal health — how we treat our bodies and pay for our healthcare treatment — has an impact on climate change.
As people wake up to the realities of climate change, they want to learn about how to make climate-conscious choices. Should we recycle? Should we stop eating meat? Should we buy a hybrid vehicle?
But many pundits say that individual choices don’t matter; they argue that big-scale systemic changes are the only things that will save us. In the back-and-forth of online discussions and Twitter feuds, it’s easy to get discouraged by the scale of the problem.
The small daily choices an individual makes can feel meaningless next to the size of the problem. In reality, every small contribution is a step in the right direction.
Fortunate for us, good personal health choices overlap with climate-conscious choices: a win-win. The measures climate scientists suggest we take are akin to the advice we receive from our nutritionists and doctors.
Be mindful of your portions: American portion sizes have doubled or tripled over the last 30 years. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell us that increasing meal portions inevitably affect our waistlines. But getting those larger portions to the table also requires ample energy, particularly the excessive red meat we consume since cows release a lot of methane.
Considering the average American throws out one pound of food per day, reducing portions could simply translate into throwing away less good food.
All that extra energy to create food we throw away is contributing to the carbon pollution in our atmosphere. When you refrain from overeating, it’s better for the planet and your personal health (and your pocketbook).
Know where each meal comes from: Buying local ingredients puts money back into your local economy, ensures (typically) the use of fewer preservatives and additives, and fresher in-season ingredients. Buying local also decreases fossil fuels involved in shipping those same ingredients from out of state or even out of country. Growing your own food is even better.
Be smart with energy use: Turn off the A/C. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them. Modern innovations are a wonderful thing, giving us many conveniences we couldn’t begin to quantify. But anything in excess can become unhealthy and even a crutch, including personal energy consumption.
Instead of running your A/C longer, invest in better insulation. Go for a long walk instead of spending countless hours in front of the TV. Invest in long-lasting LED bulbs that use far less energy. Open the blinds to soak in some natural sunlight during the day. Save $$$ on energy costs, be happier, and help the planet.
Don’t use the car when it isn’t necessary: Our ancestors didn’t evolve for a world of cars, office chairs, and surplus food. In our modern convenience, many of us have lost the will to exercise and (as I mentioned earlier) watch what we eat. But modern convenience has played a toll on our health.
One of the ways to put natural exercise back into your daily routine is by walking and biking instead of always taking a car. If your work commute can be handled on a bike, you’ll emit less carbon emissions, get better exercise, and not contribute to traffic.
Carpooling is another way to lower carbon emissions while also enjoying the social benefits of accompanying someone else through the drudge of morning traffic.
In addition to health and climate benefits, many of the points listed above can also save you money. Sure, local ingredients tend to be a little more expensive than options at Walmart. But with the help of eating smaller portions, even local ingredients don’t have to change the amount of money you spend on weekly groceries. Invest in better, healthier food in more appropriate quantities. Plan to use every bit.
Obviously saving energy in your home cuts your utility bill. Riding a bike or carpooling saves on gas, oil changes, and maintenance.
Anyone who’s read this far knows there’s a missing element to all this: we’re still thinking too small. Sure, if a handful of people choose to make the changes mentioned above, maybe they’ll have a small impact on the climate for everyone. But what about big-picture?
Unfortunately, even lifestyle choices that are better for our planet and personal health don’t catch the attention of the greater public. You know what does catch everyone’s attention? $10,000+ more in everyone’s pocket every year. But where’s that money going to come from?
Let me explain. Our bloated healthcare system rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars through two primary mechanisms:
Imagine the lifestyle and energy choices you could make if you had an additional $10,348 per household member in your bank account every year. You could:
Shifting our healthcare finance paradigm from a reactive approach to a proactive position requires big thinking. Change Health Today takes fiscally-responsible established business principles and creates universal access to quality affordable care.
We can’t afford to wait any longer. We need change today. Learn more here.
With accolades spanning my career as a child psychiatrist, entrepreneur, writer, and public speaker, I advocate for a more sensible U.S. healthcare solution that appeals across all party lines. I am a Texan, born and raised. My psychiatry practice, Progressive Psychiatry, is based in Fort Worth.Read Full Bio