What the individual can do

I have spelled out the responsibilities of experts of all kinds - scientists, economists, technologists, politicians, industrialists, communicators and educators. There are important contributions also to be made by ordinary individuals to help to mitigate the problem of global warming.15 Some of these are to:

• ensure maximum energy efficiency in the home - through good insulation (see box on page 342) against cold in winter and heat in summer and by making sure that rooms are not overheated and that light is not wasted;

• as consumers, take energy use into account, e.g. by buying goods that last longer and from more local sources and buying appliances with high energy efficiency;

• support, where possible, the provision of energy from non-fossil-fuel sources; for instance, purchase 'green' electricity (i.e. electricity from renewable sources) wherever this option is available;16

• drive a fuel-efficient car and choose means of transport that tend to minimise overall energy use; for instance, where possible, walking or cycling; think before travelling by air;

• check, when buying wood products, that they originate from a renewable source;

• contribute to projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions - this can be a way of compensating for some of the emissions to which we contribute, e.g. from aircraft journeys;17

• through the democratic process, encourage local and national governments to deliver policies which properly take the environment into account.

• An integrative, holistic approach that considers the interactions between multiple stresses and between various possible solutions. Such an approach also seeks to integrate perspectives from both the natural and the social sciences, so as to understand better the dynamical interplay by which environment shapes society and society in turn reshapes environment. And these various integrations must also be in a global context.

• A goal of finding solutions not just of characterising problems. There is a tendency amongst scientists to talk forever about problems but leave solutions to others. Applied research seeking solutions is just as challenging and worthy as so-called fundamental research identifying and describing the problems.

• Ownership by both scientists and stakeholders.19 People are more prepared to change their behaviour or beliefs in response to knowledge that they have had a hand in researching or shaping.

• Scientists must see themselves more as facilitators of social learning and less as s ources of social guidance. The problems faced in environmental research are such that solutions will only be reached aftera long and iterative learning process in which many sectors of society as well as scientists must be included.

Two other qualities that need to govern our attitude to research that have often received emphasis in this book are those of honesty (especially accuracy and balance in the presentation of results) and humility (see, for instance, the fourth bullet in the last paragraph and the quotation from Thomas Huxley in Chapter 8, page 255). Together with the theme of holism from the last paragraph, they make up 3 Hs, an alliteration that assists in keeping them all in mind.

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