I read Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth” and I agree that there is a planetary emergency in the warming of the average temperature of the Earth.
Al Gore puts forth a lucid and well-documented scientific case that humans are polluting the Earth at such a rate that we are creating a crisis. His book goes through 300 pages of methodical evaluation of the facts. It leaves quite an impression.
Here are some of the statistics:
- Each American is responsible for 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
- America contributes 25% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions with 5% of the world’s population.
- In the past 650,000 years CO2 levels have been between 200 and 260 ppm (parts per million). In the last 20 years they have been measured over 350 ppm. That is a 35% increase over anything seen before.
- Since the 1970’s the increase in new square miles of desert each year has increased from about 624 per year to over 1,374 per year, doubling the new square miles of desert per year in this time.
- The number of travel days in Alaska that trucks can safely cross frozen rivers and lakes has decreased from over 200 in 1970 to less than 100 in the year 2000.
The good news is that we can do things to reduce or reverse the impact, our ‘carbon footprint’, on the earth. The fact that we have significantly reduced the danger from ozone and CFCs in the past 20 years shows if we are committed we can make a difference.
The specific ideas below have been taken directly from the book from pages 305 – 321. If you want to read the book in its entirety it is available at Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. The book is published by Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA copyright © 2006. The book was printed on paper that was 30% post consumer waste and the pulp was produced chlorine-free using 100% green power.
Here are Al Gore’s suggestions and some reference websites:
-choose energy efficient lighting – compact florescent lights (CFLs)
-choose energy efficient appliances when remodelling – information about energy efficient appliances is located at www.energystar.gov/products
-properly operate and maintain appliances – place refrigerators away from heat sources like ovens, dishwashers. Dust the refrigerator’s condenser coil. Also run the dishwasher and washing machine only when it is full, use a clothesline instead of a dryer. For more tips visit http://aceee.org/consumerguide/chlist.htm and http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeffic_appl.htm
-heat and cool your house efficiently. Lower the thermostat by just a few degrees in the winter (or raising it a few degrees in the summer). Use a programmable thermostat.
-insulate your house. Look at www.simplyinsulate.com for more information
-get an energy audit at www.energyguide.com. The site will evaluate your energy use and make suggestions for improvement.
-conserve hot water. Set the hot water heater at no more than 120º. Take showers rather than baths, also install a low flow shower head.
-reduce standby power waste. 25% of the energy used by a TV is used when it is off by “leaking” electricity. Unplug appliances when not in use or when you are going on vacation. Put the appliances on power strips so you don’t have to unplug every one.
-enable the power management feature of your computer so it will go into “sleep” mode when not in use. Laptops are 90% more efficient than desk top models. Choose a combo fax, print, copy, scan model to save on energy. Go to www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=ofc_equip.pr_office_equipment for more information on computers, printers and other office equipment.
-switch to green power. For more information on various energy sources go to www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/renewable_energy. For more information about solar power go to www.ases.org/ and for wind power go to www.awea.org. Sell energy back to the power company, this is called “net metering”. For more information on net metering go to www.awea.org/faq/netbdef.html. For information on government tax credits for renewable energy go to www.dsireusa.org. Choose to buy power from green sources by going to www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower. Also see www.green-e.org.
-walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit where possible. You can use a free service to coordinate travels with others at www.erideshare.com or to learn more about how to use and support mass transit go to www.publictransporation.org.
-drive smarter. Avoid commuting in rush hour, observe the speed limit, avoid unnecessary idling and keep your car in good running order. Also combine different errands in a single trip. For information on the fuel efficiency of cars go to www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml.
-Buy a more fuel efficient car. Look up the fuel efficiency of vehicles at www.epa.gov/autoemissions or www.fueleconomy.gov. Buy a hybrid car, for more information go to www.hybridcars.com.
-Use alternative fuels, for more information go to www.afdc.doe.gov/advanced_cgi.shtml. Consider fitting your vehicle with a Hydrogen fuel cell. For more information go to www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fuelcell.shtml
-telecommute from home. For more information go to www.telcoa.org.
-reduce air travel. Take vacations nearer to home, go by train, bus, boat or car. Busses are the most fuel-efficient mass transit.
-buy “carbon offsets” to offset the carbon you are putting in the air. “Carbon offsets go to funding a project that reduces greenhouse-gas emissions elsewhere. More information about Carbon Offsets is at www.NativeEnergy.com/climatecrisis. You can learn more about green travel and carbon offsets at www.betterworldclub.com/travel/index.htm
- Consume less, conserve more
-can you make due with what you already have? Can you borrow or rent? Can you find the item second hand? For ideas on paring down go to www.newdream.org
-buy things that last. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” for more information go to www.epa.gov/msw/reduce.htm. To learn more about how to find a new home for something you don’t need go to www.freecycle.org
-pre-cycle – reduce waste before you buy. Choose items that are packaged in recycled materials or that don’t use excess packaging. For more information go to www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentid-2194.
-recycle. If 100,000 more people were to recycle it would take out 42,000 tons of carbon emissions of the air each year. To learn more about where you can recycle products in your area go to www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=ls&a=recycle&cat=1 or www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/recycle.htm.
-don’t waste paper. It takes more than 500,000 trees to supply Americans with their Sunday newspaper each week. Limit the use of paper towels, use cloth rags and napkins. Use both sides of a sheet of paper when possible. Stop unwanted junk mail. For information about how to remove your name from mailing lists go to www.newdream.org/junkmail or www.dmaconsumers.org/offmailinglist.html.
-bag your groceries and other purchases in a reusable tote. Reuse the plastic bags you have. America uses 12 million barrels of oil each year just to produce plastic grocery bags. Paper bags are made from virgin paper to be strong. 15 million trees are cut down to produce 10 billion bags each year. For more information go to www.reuseablebags.com
-compost. Decomposing organic materials in our landfills produce methane which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide in global warming. For more information on how to compost go to www.epa.gov/compost/index.htm or www.mastercomposter.com.
-carry a refillable bottle for water. This will cut down on the number of plastic bottles thrown away and if you get the water from a tap or drinking fountain you save energy in the collection and transportation process. For more information visit www.grrn.org/beverage/refillables/index.html.
-eat less red meat. It takes a lot more fossil-fuel energy to produce and transport meat than plants. Also much of the deforestation is for cattle. Fruits, vegetables and grains take 95% less raw materials to produce than meat. For more information in cows and global warming go to www.earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm and www.epa.gov/methane/rlep/faq.html.
-Buy local. The average meal travels 1200 miles to get to you. Buy from local farmer’s markets. Buy as much of foods in season. To learn more go to www.climatebiz.com/sections/news_detail.cfm?NewsID=27338.
-learn more about climate change at www.weathervane.rff.org, www.environet.policy.net, www.climateark.org, www.gcrio.org, and www.ucusa.org/global_warming. For dialy press alert headlines visit www.net.org/warming.
-let others know
-encourage your school or business to reduce emissions
vote with your dollars. For more information about the environmental practices and policies of companies go to www.coopamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper or www.resonsible shopper.org
-consider the impact of your investments. Some websites for investing in green companies are www.socialinvest.org/areas/research, www.socialinvest.org/Areas/SRIguide, www.unepfi.org and www.ceres.org
-take political action. For more information on cities that have adopted the Kyoto Protocol go to www.ci.seattle.wa.us/mayor/climate. To learn about politicians and candidates stand on global warming visit www.lcv.org/scorecard
-support an environmental group. Here are a few: Natural Resources Defense Council at www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/default/asp, the Sierra Club at www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming and Environmental Defense at www.environmentaldefense.org/issue.cfm?subnav=12&linkID=15.
I hope this gets you concerned and motivated to see where you can change to help the environment. If any of the websites are incorrect please let me know and I will check them. If you have any other ideas I would love to hear them. You can reach me at email@example.com.
As Al Gore says in this book “This is our only home, this is a moral issue and our ability to live on planet Earth is at stake. It is our time to rise again to secure our future”.