The impacts of climate change are hitting closer and closer to home. From the most named storms (30, as of November 18) of any Atlantic hurricane season on record to an unprecedented western wildfire season—including the largest Colorado and California wildfires by area in each state’s history—2020 was a year of extreme weather events in the United States.
Contributing to the wild weather, scientists tell us, were rising seas and ocean temperatures, drought, unusual lightning storms, and other telltale signs that the Earth’s climate is changing—and not in a good way.
It’s not that the warning signs of climate change haven’t been apparent for decades. In the 1950s, data on human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate modeling indicated that the planet was warming, and, if left unchecked, would cause irrevocable harm to life on the planet. Some 40 years later, the Kyoto Protocol, the first global agreement to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases was adopted by 37 industrialized countries, countries in transition, and the European Union.
Yet, even with more than a half-century of serious discussions about the need to stop, prevent, and reverse climate change, many people in the U.S. didn’t appear to finally sit up and take notice in greater numbers until the recent wave of natural disasters struck.
Why? Well, perhaps one reason why more people seem to be focusing on the real-world implications of climate change is a newfound personal connection to the planetary problem—specifically, the faces of the first responders.
Trained to react quickly, these familiar faces—emergency medical technicians, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other emergency personnel—are the ones dealing in often dangerous and exhausting ways with the realities of a warming climate. They also are, or easily could be, family members, friends, or neighbors. Feeling more personally connected with these heroes can have a profound impact when we hear about new climate science research, such as the recent study, published in the journal Nature, suggesting that that climate change may make hurricanes more destructive.
Fiercer, longer, and more frequent storms, wildfires, and other disasters puts more property, jobs, and, most importantly, the lives of first responders at risk right here in the U.S. That’s personal when the people rushing in to help are from your community or state.
Ford Motor Company understands this connection and feels it, too. The global automotive company, which has produced vehicles in the U.S. since 1903, has committed to build vehicles that first responders can depend on whenever and wherever natural disaster happens. More emergency vehicles services choose Ford commercial trucks, including vans, over any other manufacturer. [Disclaimer: Based on IHS Markit CYTD 2020 US TIPNet Registrations excluding registrations to individuals.]
Ford also collaborates with and donates to various organizations supporting first responders, such as The Leary Firefighters Foundation, which funds education, equipment, technology, training, and vehicles for firefighters nationwide.
At Ford, helping to build safe, reliable Super Duty vehicles for first responders and supporting first responder organizations and disaster relief programs are part of the company's core value of contributing to a better world. Another essential component of that long-standing commitment to make a positive impact on society is a company-wide focus on sustainability. Aspirational Goals of Ford squarely align with helping to protect the future of the planet. Among these goals are supporting 100 percent renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035, eliminating single-use plastics from operations by 2030, and supporting CO2 reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement, the landmark, 2015 international accord to keep climate change in check and limit future greenhouse gas emissions.
The planet-forward steps taken by Ford, one of the world’s largest automakers, have the potential to make a significant, positive impact in global efforts to curb climate change. But, that doesn’t mean that smaller steps—those taken by individuals—can’t make a big difference, too.
To be part of the change needed to reverse climate change, consider taking these five simple steps:
- Eat less meat and more vegetables. And, when you do eat meat, choose carbon-light chicken instead of carbon-heavy beef.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Buying fewer new items reduces the greenhouse gases produced and released by factories.
- Unplug. Leaving chargers and appliances plugged in when not in use wastes energy.
- Buy local. Purchasing locally grown and produced items limits transportation miles, reducing fuel consumption and air pollution.
- Plant a tree (or several). Trees, which absorb and store CO2 and emit pure oxygen, are natural climate change champions.