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Meet America’s revolutionaries vouching for climate change

Peter Kalmus, Tarek Maassarani and Elizabeth Hogan see the world differently in order to solve climate problems and provide solutions.

Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist, calculated the emissions in various aspects of his life and was surprised to learn that electricity consumption was small compared to air travel. “I was shaking people by the lapels, posting screeds on Facebook, not really getting anywhere,” he told AFP in an interview. “Eventually, it dawned on me that I should maybe bring my actions into alignment with my beliefs. So I started focusing on flying less. I tried being a vegetarian for a month, and I liked it better,” he said. Kalmus believes that meeting critical goals to avoid disaster will require a “rapid cultural transformation,” and acts of individual defiance will help achieve that.

“The reason everyone’s waking up is because there’s been this massive grassroots shift over the last year or two,” he said. One of the many ways people can contribute to that movement is by telling others about steps they have personally taken, “then when you say ‘this is really urgent,’ your words are backed by the truth of your actions.”

Tarek Maassarani does paid consulting for the ‘United States Institute of Peace‘ and is an adjunct professor at two Washington universities. He relies almost exclusively on his bicycle for transport and avoids buying new products because of the energy-intensive nature of their production. Instead, Maassarani depends on hand-me-downs, “and I sort of extend the life of things well past what most people would do.” He gets food mostly from dumpster diving and from the leftovers at buffets from conferences he attends, describing himself as a “supply-and-demand vegan.”

“I don’t buy any animal products, I try not to create any demand signal for animal products,” he said.

Elizabeth Hogan lives a more conventional life but is still orienting toward more carbon neutrality. She works as a consultant on alleviating the impact of ocean plastics on marine life and she just outfitted solar panels on the roof of her home in Washington. She and her husband predict that these will account for 80 percent of their energy needs. “Both of our careers are very planet-oriented, so it’s kind of our whole lives, but I am certainly not claiming to be perfect,” she says, noting that they both fly extensively for work. Hogan is a vegetarian but sources her dairy from a nearby local farm that cleans and re-uses glass bottles returned to them.

The United States’ current climate efforts are rated by ‘Climate Action Tracker’ as “critically insufficient” in meeting the goal of limiting long-term warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, National Geographic reports.

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Image courtesy of Lance Cheung