Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Why should you know? Do you care? Should you care?

There’s a lot of talk about one’s carbon footprint and how it relates to the hyper-large super-scary ultra- intense threat of Global Climate Change. Basically, Carbon dioxide is a gas that contributes to the Greenhouse effect, warming our planet. Methane is another one of those gases that is much more potent, but it doesn’t last a s long in the atmosphere, so people don’t worry about it as much. Anyway, we produce carbon dioxide lots of ways. Even breathing! But most of it is our lifestyle choices. Flying 5,000 miles a year, eating red meat every meal, and using a natural gas furnace from 1925 is going to use much more carbon than someone who bicycles to work, eats meat a few times a week, and has a 95% efficient furnace. Just as an example. I found a good website that is easy to use, simple, and will take less than three minutes to figure out just how many tons of carbon you put into the atmosphere every year.

This calculator from the Nature Conservancy is simple to use.

I was shocked to see that my household belches out 27 tons of carbon every year. That is…until I saw that the average American household produces 80 tons!

Reducing your carbon output will not instantly solve global warming, but every little bit that we can do can add up to have a significant effect. So see what you number is, and then maybe think about ways you can decrease it.

Quick fixes would be things like: using energy efficient lighting, buying energy star appliances, driving the most fuel efficient car you can afford…less, eating less meat, eating organically grown food, eating locally grown food, recycling as much as you can, composting food scraps, and many more!

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Climate change. Does it exist? Yes. Can we do something about it? Maybe. What the world needs now (besides love, as they say) is concerted action. We need to educate people on the true consequences of their actions, and what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet. For a few things you can do individually, check these out:

1) Live close to work & play. I know that for many people, they are settled in to where they are living. But the average American only lives in a house for seven years. So you still may be able to do this at some point in the future. Look at where you live now, and how far you commute. Can you live closer to where you work? Can you get a new job closer to where you live? When my wife and I were buying our first home, we took this into consideration. We decreased her commute time from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, and I was close enough to ride my bike to work most days.

2) Ride a bike. If you are physically able to ride a bike to do short errands, do it. Many car trips in the U.S. are for distance of less than a mile. Have to run down to the drugstore for something small? Take a bike. This alone will reduce your carbon footprint a great deal. Plus it may be quicker. What? you ask incredulously. Yes. My commute was 12 minutes by car and 7 minutes by bike…because of all the traffic. I can always go to the front of the line at a ed light, and speed by cars that are bumper to bumper.

3) Get an energy audit for your home. Many companies that deal in windows, insulation, or heating will offer these for free. A technician will come in and go around your house check for leaks. Not leaks from water in pipes, places where heat is leaking out. They seal off your front door with a big plastic gasket with a fan inside. This creates negative pressure in the house, so any place where heat would have been going out is now coming in. They use a thermal IMG_0251imaging camera to spot areas of cold. (white is hot, black is cold. You can see in the picture that the bottom panel of our back door is very cold, and cold air is seeping in underneath the door.) It was very cool to follow him around and see cold seeping in through the baseboards and around the door to the attic. Then I knew exactly where to seal with caulk or expanding foam. We also got our furnace replaced with a 95% efficient model and insulated all the exterior walls with blown-in cellulose insulation. This cut our utility bills in half! I wrote in more detail about that here.

There are so many other things you can do, so I will say that the biggest one is:

4) Read. Educate yourself on how you can live a better life for yourself, and the environment. You’re doing it right now! There are tons of simple things you can do. There are also things that many people believe will affect the climate a great deal, but actually don’t.

I focused on only one small part of the climate change issue, but there are myriad facets to this. I expect to read posts from other people doing Blog Action Day today about how coastal regions may be affected, our food supply, desertification, water shortages, international policy changes, new advancements in science, and much more. So just try and do your part, and we can make some change for the good of us all.

For more info, go here:

http://www.blogactionday.org/