As always, McKibben is right on. And I think the list of small-on-their-own-but-zeitgeist-shifting-in-the-aggregate steps includes lifestyle choices, too. They don’t belong at the top of the list; if I had to choose between encouraging a friend to eat less meat or inviting them to a local climate activist group’s weekly meeting, I’m going to choose the meeting every time. But here’s the thing: we don’t really need to choose. It all contributes to changing people’s sense of what is normal and natural and obvious. And if, as Klein argues, the most critical effect of individual action is its contagiousness, then it’s actually really important that we discuss our own climate-motivated lifestyle changes with the people in our lives—that we talk about how badass our new e-bike is, or how satisfying tracking our house’s electricity production feels, or how yummy the vegan cheese they make nowadays can be, in the same way that we rant about how fossil fuel CEOs need to be dragged to the Hague and tried for crimes against humanity.
Of course, I’m super late to all of this, myself. I was eating animal products last January, and driving gratuitously in May. So many people made sustainable commitments so much faster than I did. But that’s kind of the point, for anyone reading this who’s been thinking about making a lifestyle change but hasn’t yet: If we didn’t start something yesterday, there’s no better time to start than today. That goes for both collective action and for living our climate values in our personal lives, too.
Because, even with the good news out of D.C. last week, it’s clear by now that nobody’s going to save us from climate disaster. Whatever those of us who care about a livable planet have the capacity to do, we need to do it; whatever arena of our lives we can take action in, we need to take it. “All of the above” was a disastrous energy policy, but it’s the right approach to climate action. Because we are all we’ve got.