New Year’s Resolutions

If you’re warming up your New Year’s resolutions, consider the following half dozen as potential candidates for your annual self-improvement vows. Stick with any of them and they’ll be good for you and for your planet.

1. Take climate change seriously.

If you’re still a skeptic, good for you, be a skeptic. But be an informed and honest skeptic. Educate yourself with the best scientific research available. Note: Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are not the best sources of scientific research on anything.

You could start your self-education by going to the United Nations Environment Programme website (unep.org/climatechange/) and reading the summary of current climate change facts and figures released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Argue with the IPCC findings if you like, but know that you are arguing with more than 97 percent of the world’s best climate scientists.

If you still want to deny the evidence of human-induced climate change, consider the implications for your children, and multiple future generations of your family, if you are wrong. Would a precautionary posture toward climate change not be the wisest position to take?

On the other hand, if you’re not a climate change skeptic, we suggest you go to the website of the Climate Protection Campaign – Sonoma County’s home-grown, nation-leading local climate change action organization – and find out what you can do personally to make a positive change in your carbon footprint.

2. Once every day, try to practice one simple, random act of kindness. The idea has become something of a feel-good cliche, but perhaps that’s because it really makes a difference in the lives of those who give and those who get.

3. Whether or not you need or support Obamacare, make a resolution to make your personal health a higher priority. Unless you are already an active athlete, unless you already exercise for 30 minutes or more, five times or more a week, commit yourself to trying to do so. It’s the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to reduce the cost of your own health care.

4. Pick a cause, any cause, make a commitment to support that cause in any way you can – with money, with volunteer time, with expertise or equipment – for a minimum of a month, and for a year if you’re able.

5. Whether or not you have school-age children, consider selecting one of the Valley’s eight public schools and arranging to drop in to observe a class. You’ll not only learn a lot about the process and the quality of public education, but you may find ways to serve and support the teachers who are shaping the next generations of our community.

6. Scour your house, collect everything you haven’t used, worn or even looked at in the last year, put it in boxes and bags and give as much of it as you possibly can to organizations – such as FISH, the Church Mouse, the Wilmar Center, Social Advocates for Youth – serving in-need and at-risk populations. Consider it an early, spring house cleaning. Odds are you’ll never miss any of it.

Whatever you decide to do, some experts advise entering it into your daily calendar so the resolution sits there confronting you every time you check your schedule.

Good luck.