The Bottom-Up Approach to Solving Climate Change

By: Sean Kim; Philips Andover Academy

          In today’s media and politics driven world, solutions to environmental issues and especially climate change is primarily discussed in political and global platforms. Anthropogenic climate change, given its complexity and scale, is thus perceived as an issue to be solved at a global, top-down level. As large and complex the issue of climate change may be, taking a bottom-up approach should not be neglected. A bottom-up approach to an issue is prioritizing actions that can be done at a local level, rather than relying on governmental and international efforts. 

          The most important value of the bottom-up approach is not having to rely on a massive, sudden change. Given the slower than needed traction of combating human impacts to the climate in the past few decades, it is unlikely that a stunning scientific discovery will remarkably solve the issue on its own. All nations coming together at a global level to discuss and put into action plausible solutions to climate change is not a likelihood either. Waiting for such a massive, sudden change to happen, impacts to the climate may become irreversible. On the other hand, the bottom-up approach shifts focus towards realistic and effective measures at the local level. 

          There are a few keys to driving the bottom-up approach to solving the issue of anthropogenic climate change. First of all, entrepreneurs and individual businesses play a crucial role. Sustainable management of companies will not only encourage sustainable practices in the respective industries, but also make sustainable products more profitable. For instance, a clothing company decides to implement sustainable practices by using recycled clothing scraps and plastic bottles as opposed to conventional cotton and polyester for production of fabric. The clothing company may decide to outsource fabric production to a textile producer that already run on such sustainable practices, thus directly bringing more profits for other sustainable businesses. Once the clothing is produced, the marketing of the final product will most likely focus on sustainability, thus encouraging more customers to purchase sustainable products. Sustainable management therefore plays an instrumental role in not only driving a sustainable economy, but also triggering a social revolution. More importantly though, the bottom-up approach encourages people to take any action possible. Small sustainable efforts in your house, school, or town will trigger more sustainable efforts from those around you. Rather than waiting for politicians and large industrial leaders to pivot towards a sustainable economy, smaller businesses and local organizations must look to drive sustainability.