Devastating natural disasters tore through the US in 2020, destroying more than 16,000 square miles and setting records for the most tropical storms and hurricanes in one season. And despite pandemic lockdowns, studies show that the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere hit the highest level since measurements began 63 years ago.
And experts predict things will get worse as people continue polluting.
The deets that matter for your wallet: There are a lot. Changing weather patterns (one effect of climate change) can impact what you pay for insurance, food, and utilities. Severe natural disasters could cause insurance companies to spend more on claims and push up your premiums to make up for it. More unpredictable weather and droughts could leave farmers short on produce or meat, making them bump your food bill higher. And if warmer temps have everyone cranking the AC, electricity could get more expensive, too.
On a larger scale, studies show that climate change can be a drag on the whole economy, lowering the world's GDP and increasing the global wealth gap. While it's on the gov to come up with and enforce big solutions to address climate change, there are ways you can help your wallet and the environment in the meantime.
What you can do about it: Make changes to slash your bills. And moves to align your money decisions with your values. Some ideas:
Know your insurance options. Get quotes from a few different, reputable insurance providers to find coverage you need at the best price. Then see if bundling policies, paying annually vs. monthly or quarterly, enrolling in auto-pay, and/or raising your deductible could save you more.
Grocery-shop smarter. Make a list to avoid impulse buys. Compare prices based on volume. Scan the shelves for deals. (They tend to stock the priciest products at eye-level.) Oh, and after you eat, try turning kitchen scraps into new food. Sustainable and delicious.
Go green(er) at home. Only running a full dishwasher, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, and unplugging electronics when you aren’t using them are low-lift ways to minimize your footprint and trim your utility bills. Win win.
Put your money where your values are. Find eco-friendly swaps for items you use every day. Think: reusable straws, a biodegradable toothbrush or clothing made from recycled materials. They might cost more, so you'll have to adjust your budget. You can also look into "socially responsible investing" – a strategy that considers companies' environmental and social impact, in addition to potential financial returns – and other ways to do biz with companies that share your values.
Vote. Not just every four years. Cast your ballot in local elections, too. Support lawmakers who champion climate change policies you believe in. And contact legislators to let them know your thoughts.
theSkimm: The environment isn’t the only thing that’s going to pay for climate change. Do your part to protect the Earth – and your finances. Because Captain Planet is right: the power is yours.
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Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Casey Bond, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus
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