9 min read

Here Are Some Easy Ways To Protect Animals From Climate Change

They need your help more than ever.

People and animals as we know them share this little planet, so if you're an animal lover, one of the best things you can do is stand up for the health of our Earth.

People are clever animals, and have been creating amazing things for years. Unfortunately, a side effect of much of this invention is the creation of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. These gases trap heat and make our planet warmer, causing sea ice to melt and ocean levels to rise.

Fifteen of the 16 warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 2001. And it's not stopping on its own. But there are things you can do right now to fight this.

1. Change your lightbulbs - really.

What are the five lights you use the most in your house? Identify them and replace their bulbs with bulbs that have the Energy Star label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Doing this can not only help you save $70 a year on energy bills; the bulbs also use about 75 percent less energy and last 10 to 50 times longer.

When you need a new appliance, choose a product that also has the Energy Star label. According to the EPA, products that have earned the Energy Star label "can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds and save you $11,000 on energy bills" over a lifetime.

2. Go meatless one day (or more) a week.

Big agriculture industries, like meat and dairy, emit more greenhouse gases than all the world's transportation combined. Producing beef, lamb and cheese creates some of the highest amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, so cutting down on demand will help.

Cutting meat out of your diet even just one day out of every week can make a huge difference. Here's a guide to help you come up with some great - and healthy - alternatives to meat. Pledge to go meatless one day a week here.

3. Check your savings accounts.

This might come as a bit of a surprise, but your mutual funds or 401(k) accounts could be wrapped up with antiquated fossil fuel industries, meaning you could be supporting the very pollution you're trying to prevent.

If you have mutual funds or retirement accounts, there's a new tool to check how much of your money is invested in stocks for companies that emit harmful fossil fuels. If you find that your savings is supporting these companies, you can make a change. If your employer decides where the investments are, create a team of concerned coworkers who are willing to come together and request a change in how the funds are invested. As suggested by Fossil Free Funds, start the conversations with something like this: "We want to reduce the future risk of our 401(k) fund choices. We also want to invest in a clean energy future. How can we enhance our 401(k) choices to do so?"

4. Carry your own cup.

The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups per year. Americans throw away about 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year - and styrofoam does not fully recycle. Five hundred years from now, the styrofoam we throw away today will still be in the landfills. Americans also throw away 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour.

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Recycling is, of course, a must. But reusing - cutting down on the amount of packaging that's created - is even more ideal. The less trash the better, so whenever possible, bring a reusable commuter mug to your local coffee place. Or pack your lunch in a sturdy reusable container.

How does this help? It not only cuts down on trash, but it also cuts down on the extraction of natural resources to manufacture, ship and dispose of non-recyclable materials.

Take a pledge to carry your own cup here.

5. Make your voice heard.

As the U.S. gears up for a new president, it's important to tell your representatives which issues matter most to you.

If you're concerned about global warming, you can tell your representative that you support the environmental agencies, like the EPA, that have been working on solutions to environmental problems for decades. You can also tell them if you'd like to see rewards for people and companies who switch to more sustainable energy usage, and penalties for people and companies who continue to contribute to global warming through carbon emissions.

Coal burning power plant in Arizona | Shutterstock

Find your representatives here. A phone call is often the best way to get your voice heard. You can also write to your representatives here. To see a suggested outline for your letter, click here.

"The single biggest thing folks can do is to let their elected leaders know they will not tolerate the destruction of our foundational environmental laws and regulations," Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, told The Dodo. "Those laws are not and should not be partisan: they protect the water we all drink, the air we breathe, our public lands and wildlife. It will be imperative that we all stand up locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in the face of this unprecedented threat."

"The next four years [could] turn this country into a fossil fuel exporting behemoth," Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo, "so every little bit of resistance to that helps."

To see a list of organizations fighting for the environment that need your help, click here.