Their children worry that polar bears will drown in the Arctic; you have seen the news of reduced snowfall, food shortages and prolonged droughts; Images of starving children in Haiti haunt you as you fill your hungry SUV at the pump. In recent years, global warming has morphed from a controversial theory to a heartbreaking reality, leaving us all in shock and wondering, “What can I do to help?”
The good news is that solving the climate crisis depends as much on changing our personal habits and lifestyles as it does on innovations in industry and political will. We all have a vital role to play.
So where do we start? Guilty of producing 21% of the world’s carbon emissions with only 5% of its population, Americans must seriously rethink how we live our daily lives. Here are some changes we can make in three areas – transportation, food, and housing – to start reducing our large carbon footprints.
Swap your gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient car. Options to consider:
- Hybrids (auto recharge battery and gas with up to 50 MPG)
- Plug-in hybrids (can hit up to 100 MPG for trips under 30 miles)
- Electric (small cars for running errands: 67% estimated cost savings)
- Hydrogen cell (now used in fleets, available to the public in 2010; 40% cleaner emissions with 50% operating savings)
- Switch from diesel (already 30% better MPG than gas, but polluting) to biodiesel for 78% cleaner emissions. No conversion required in cars after 1994. Diesel can also be replaced with cheap, recycled cooking oil from local restaurants.
- Convert or buy a new ethanol-compatible car to use a mixture of ethanol and gas up to 85% – E85 to reduce dependence on oil
Reduce the size:
- Use a fuel efficient scooter for errands in good weather (up to 100 MPG)
- Park your car and take public transportation: light rail, subway or bus
- Shared car with coworkers
- Ride a bike and forget about going to the gym
- Walking or skating
The average American creates 2.8 tons of CO2 emissions each year from eating, even more than the 2.3 tons each of us produces from driving (assuming 2 people per midsize car)! Our choices at the grocery store (or farmers market) really affect the health of our planet. Suggestions for a low carbon diet:
- Buy locally grown and produced food whenever possible. Transportation of food products from abroad or by truck through our country is the main reason why our carbon footprint in food is so high. Say no to imported water bottles from Fiji or France and get in the habit of drinking from your tap, which is often of higher quality.
- Avoid excessive packaging, especially with non-degradable petroleum-based plastics (those water bottles again).
- Buy organic to support sustainable and organic farming, and to get the most nutrients from your food.
And now for the lie. The average home in the US produces about 6 tons of CO2 emissions each year! Clearly, we need to make some changes and green our homes. That’s how:
- If possible, invest in alternative power generation with a wind turbine or solar panels that could meet much of the energy needs of an average family home and even generate credit from the power company for excess energy your home sends to the utility. net.
- Seal all doors and windows to reduce air loss (think energy loss) from 25% to just 4%.
- Invest in energy efficient appliances, including HVAC equipment.
- Just run full loads of dishes and clothes.
- Keep the thermostat at no lower than 68 degrees in summer and no higher than 76 degrees in winter.
- Replace all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that save 75% energy and last 10 times longer.
- Use lights sparingly.
- Invest in a home automation system to automatically lower the thermostat and water heater at night and when you are not at home, turn off the lights when you leave the room, close or open the curtains according to the heat and regulate the use of water from automatically. sprinklers. (Typical energy savings for HA systems are 25-30%).
The time has come to stop worrying and feeling guilty about the health of our planet and start taking action. The polar bears will thank us.