Ask Charlie

Climate change is obviously a big problem for human beings. Don't agree? Then I implore you to check out the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC are the experts on climate change. Trust me, there's nothing scientists love more than to prove each other wrong, especially scientists who come from different backgrounds and cultural perspectives.

So you can trust them when they say, according to The New York Times, that damages from climate change are expected to cost the United States up to a 10th of its total gross domestic product by the end of the century, which would be twice the losses experienced during the Great Depression.

Sadly, the most efficient solution to this problem would be to regulate carbon emissions and fully reform the industrial agriculture system. To truly lower your carbon footprint, you'll have to walk your feet on down to your local polling place and vote for greener laws and candidates.

However, the opportunity to vote only comes once or twice a year, at most. So, for people who care about the future of our planet and about doing what's right, here are a few of the simplest things you can do to cut down on your personal carbon footprint.

The number one method for cutting down the size of your footprint, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is to change your mode and frequency of travel. In most cases, Flagstaff residents have a 1 to 2 mile daily commute.

So, next time you're feeling lively, consider taking your bike to work and leave the Wrangler in the garage. Hiking, bussing and carpooling are also good alternatives to automotive travel. Another thing to consider is a staycation on the upcoming spring break, as limiting air travel helps to reduce carbon emissions.

Secondly, the WHO recommends Americans make changes to the way they eat. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture accounts for 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. A large majority of agricultural emissions can be attributed to the raising, slaughter, processing and shipping of livestock. This is because livestock requires vast amounts of feed and energy to raise. Furthermore, livestock produces carbon emissions through natural digestive processes.

It's time for the U.S. to admit to its dietary overindulgence. Eating several ounces of meat every single meal is environmentally unsustainable and may not even be healthy for humans. Cutting back on personal meat consumption or cutting it out completely greatly reduces your personal contribution to global climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also recommends organic farming as a greener alternative to industrial farming.

Next, the WHO says to limit your use of water and electricity. This suggestion might seem strange, but consider where these resources come from. Many people don't realize that in 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration observed that nearly 63 percent of electrical energy was created by the consumption of fossil fuels. Nearly half of that amount was produced by coal, the most environmentally damaging and arguably the most harmful type of fossil fuel from a humanitarian perspective.

Conserving water lends itself to damage control. As global temperatures rise, levels of atmospheric moisture are depleted in many parts of the world, which could lead to intense, global dry spells.

The final thing the WHO recommends is to limit personal waste. We've all heard the adage, "reuse, reduce, recycle." However, what I propose is a more holistic approach, one that could potentially diminish the size of your footprint in each of these areas.

I propose that we, as a country or simply as a community, choose to consume less on a daily basis. It might seem like an unsophisticated approach. However, to me, it seems the most obvious answer.

What if we, as a society, chose to be less indulgent? What if we, as individuals, decided to pay attention to and appreciate the things we already have? What if we limit ourselves to only our fair share of goods and natural resources?

It seems that in American society, we are very disconnected from the concept of modest living. So, I say, if you want to lower your carbon footprint, lower your weekly Amazon bill. Less packaging and shipping means fewer emissions and a greener planet. Or maybe consider choosing a salad at home provided by a locally supplied grocer, rather than swinging through the drive-thru for a double cheeseburger at lunch. Skip out on a shower, a drive or a flight. Living a plentiful life doesn't have to come at great cost to the environment.

By leading less consumptive lives, it's easy to imagine a brighter future for our planet. At the very least, living a more modest consumer lifestyle can help alleviate your ecological conscience. Most importantly, by maintaining a minimalist lifestyle, you can begin to fully experience the elementary pleasures of being alive. In my own experience, inner happiness and lowering my carbon footprint have gone hand-in-hand, and I hope the same will happen for you.