Climate change is real, but do you feel powerless in facing that reality? Renewable energy is one of the solutions we have for both climate change and air pollution health issues.

If you are still waiting for confirmation that the human race is responsible for global warming, consider whether waiting is worth the cost of inaction, the loss of human lives and the billions of dollars wasted in economic losses. Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action, a major peer-reviewed 2015 study by the Environmental Protection Agency, says that “global action on climate change will significantly benefit Americans by saving lives and avoiding costly damages across the U.S. economy.”

Image credits: Jürgen from Sandesneben.

Renewable energy is a solution to our environmental problems. It could impact both climate change and air pollution health issues.

Renewable Energy Is Worth the Investment

Renewable energy makes countries more financially resilient and provides continuity to life even after the worst scenarios. Most countries are dependent on foreign oil reserves; fossil fuels which require transportation or centralized electricity generation. When there is a natural disaster, access to these fossil fuels can be disrupted. With renewable energy systems, both decentralized electricity generation and off-grid set ups provide opportunities to for countries to bounce back from disasters more quickly. As the price of renewable energy technology decreases as more projects are developed (economies of scale) – the return on investment will increase. The financial returns on investment in renewable energy can also be a catalyst for improving everyone’s quality of life.

Most energy projects have financial obstacles to their implementation. However, the advent of crowd-funded emerging technologies, renewable energy cooperative financing and low-cost buy-in shares alleviate these financial issues.

Another issue is local “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) opposition. For example, local residents may oppose the establishment of oil and gas drilling or wind farms.

How Will the Renewable Energy Market Fare in the Trump Administration?

What direction will the renewable energy market take with the new administration? That remains to be seen.

Ultimately, the power to effect change really lies with each of us. There is always something we can do, but we have to get moving, now. The longer we wait to solve environmental problems, the higher the cost will be to humanity. We are seeing only the tip of the iceberg, such as the irreversible damage fossil fuel consumption causes to our climate, ecosystems and quality of life.

Renewable Energy Innovation Tied to Our Spending, Career and Skillsets

Whether we’re broke or wealthy, we all shape the economy we live in. How we spend our money affects the renewable energy market.

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How we earn a living also drives the renewable energy market. Every career and skillset can be adapted to careers in renewable energy innovation and adoption.

Want to know how? Take a look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Jobs and Career Planning Resources. This website includes guides that describe job opportunities in wind and solar energy fields.

Shape Your Green Economy at Home and in the Office

If you’ve researched the costs of renewable energy installation in your home, business or utility company, you will find that their costs are tied to your consumption of energy. Renewable energy will remain out of the price range of many of us if we do not reduce our energy consumption.

There are many small ways to reduce your energy use. Be the person who turns off the unnecessary lights at work. Be the person who tracks electricity consumption. You will save your business unnecessary costs and achieve instant star employee status.

The EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator allows you to measure greenhouse gas emissions from driving a car, using incandescent light bulbs or moving waste to landfills. Once collected, this information can be communicated to other people and used to determine ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Use Green Products and Check for “Made with Renewable Energy” Labels

Use products that have been manufactured by companies using renewable energy. There are countless “Made with Renewable Energy” labels on products and there are companies that tell you how they are committed to renewable energy. This is one of the latest trends in green marketing, which makes the case for future investment in renewable energy.

If you don’t have the money to invest in renewable energy, encourage the companies you already invest in to use renewable energy sources. If they do not comply, take your business elsewhere. Your dollar is the most persuasive voting tool.

For an added push, complete customer service surveys or go on social media to tell manufacturers that you’ve chosen their products because of their investment in renewable energy. Your opinion will matter even more to those environment-minded companies.

Explore and experiment with emerging technologies and products. For every problem with renewable energy, green technology and conventional products, there is some company, entrepreneur or scientist working on a solution.

We won’t solve environmental problems unless we explore innovative solutions and inventors won’t find solutions if we don’t support their technologies. Even after years of prototyping and company investment, innovative technology still requires public buy-in.

Aside from social media and other news sources, stay abreast about how emerging technologies are being tested in real-life scenarios in the U.S. General Services Green Proving Ground Program.

We Can’t Afford the Cost of Water and Air Pollution from Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Extraction

By 2050, the world may face climate change issues from rising seas and the loss of species diversity. We can’t afford the cost of water and air pollution created by coal, oil and natural gas extraction.

Fossil fuels are also blamed for the erosion of respect for treaties to protect indigenous lands and the disruption of ancestral burial grounds. There is also a disregard for cultural heritage, as evidenced by the Standing Rock Indian Reservation protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

There is no better time for each of us to take action. Regardless of whether we have enough money to invest in renewable energy or we make the choice to reduce our energy consumption, there is always some action to take.

Renewable energy is the fuel and the power is ours.

This is a guest post by Dr. Ariana Marshall, a faculty member with the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at American Public University. She is the Director for the Caribbean Sustainability Collective and focuses on culturally relevant sustainability and climate change adaptation. Ariana completed her doctorate in environmental science and risk management at FAMU.