The only way I know to fight feelings of despair is to get together with other like-minded people, share ideas, and see how we can together and separately take action. I always come away feeling better. Hopeful.
You can meet these people and groups in many places. I found my group in my church, South Church in Andover: South Church Green Team. Two other local churches that I know about are active: West Parish in Andover has a Green Team (West Parish Community Action). North Parish in North Andover has the Climate Justice Task Force (North Parish Climate Justice). All three churches have large solar PV arrays generating their electric power!
Most towns have environmental or sustainability committees: North Andover Sustainability Committee, Andover-Green-Advisory-Board
You can get involved in activism with national environmental action groups like 350.org, Sierra Club or The Nature Conservancy. You can take action by participating in political protests on the streets. Vote. Encourage your friends to vote. Always vote with climate change at the top of your list. (On that last point, I could go on with a whole discussion on why climate change is the only issue that really matters, both for your future and your kids. BTW, "your future" applies even to people in your 80's and 90's!.)
Direct action starts with our own life choices. Drive an energy efficient car. Or even better, take public transportation whenever you can. Switch to GreenUp electricity. Make efficiency upgrades or install solar panels on your home.
The Problem Of Where We Are Now
But when thinking about our life choices - what we buy and how we live - here's the problem -
The problem is that the safe emission level is just 0.6 metric tons per person! (MIT study Science Daily Apr 2008),
As an American, it is almost impossible to make changes in your life to meet that level. But before you change your life, here are two big things to do first:
How Carbon Offsets Can Make A Difference
I used www.carbonfootprint.com to estimate my family's household and yearly living usage. I came up with approximately 25 metric tons. This is a good deal lower than the average American household. It's about half since we have solar panels (PV and hot water), a super insulated house (the addition is constructed with insulated concrete forms, all new windows, a high efficiency boiler), a hybrid car, etc. We don't fly much, most years not at all.
The cost to offset this carbon footprint is around $217. That's it! Even for the average American household of 4 that produces 45 or 50 metric tons, it would still only cost around $400-$450 to offset their usage.
As a step to protecting a livable world, for ourselves and our children, this sounds like something all of us could do.