Thursday, November 13, 2008

Make These Five Easy Changes Today

A United Nations study released today claims negative climate change could be progressing faster than we think, and The New York Times reports one official as saying there is an "urgent need to take on emissions across the planet".

Every time I read an article to this effect (there seem to be more and more these days), I think "What can I do?" has a great list of changes we can all make to do our part. Below are five I consider to be the easiest (as in, start them today!), but all are attainable.

The first item is an addition:

1. Ride a bike. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but please don't drive if you don't need to. Yes, we all need to go places that sometimes require cars, but we should ride -- or walk -- when we can. Next would be public transit and trains, then carpooling, then driving. Cars should be our last option.

Over the summer The New Yorker ran an inspiring piece on Samsø, and island in Denmark that has -- over a period of 10 years -- made itself carbon neutral. The article also presents a team of scientists and thinkers who argue for a 2,000-watt life, or a life in which each person uses 2,000 or less watts of energy daily. The reporter admits to having trouble finding a person who does this successfully, and comes close with a Swiss engineer and his family. Their secret? “The most important decision was that we wouldn’t have a car,” he says. “That was a conscious decision. We looked for a house where we didn’t need a car.” The New Yorker piece continues:
Driving a lot—even in what, by today’s standards at least, counts as an energy-efficient vehicle—also makes it difficult to live within two thousand watts. A person who drives a Toyota Prius ten thousand miles a year consumes roughly two hundred and twenty-five gallons of gasoline. This is equivalent to consuming around eight thousand kilowatt-hours, or to using nearly a thousand watts on a continuous basis. (For a family of four, the same gasoline consumption would come to almost two hundred and fifty watts per person.)
That pretty much says it all.

Some more:

2. Ban plastic. 2.5 million individual plastic water bottles are thrown away every hour in the US. Buy a reusable water bottle, say no to plastic bags in stores and carrry a tote!

3. Buy minimally packaged goods. Less packaging can reduce your garbage by about 10%.

4. Buy local. Find your local CSA and shop at the Greenmarket!

5. Take shorter showers. Can't stand the thought? Take a regular-length shower every other day, instead.


Michael said...

I can't help but say: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that 1/5 of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the animal food industry - they concluded that if we cut our meat and animal product consumption in half, it would have a much bigger impact than if we cut driving in half!

The easiest and greenest lifestyle change we can make is to give up eating meat. You can do that and then drive an SUV the rest of your life, and you'll still be greener...
Read about it here:
"Shun Meat, Says UN Climate Chief"

JJN said...

I agree giving up meat is a great way to help curb climate change. I am not a vegan, and frankly, I don't know if I ever will be. But I do eat about 90 percent vegetarian, and I'm very picky about the little meat I do eat. Buying local isn't just for produce. There are several vendors at the Union Square Greenmarket that sell locally-raised meats. And my favorite restaurant, Marlow and Sons, is opening a butcher shop in Williamsburg that will be the first in the city to sell local meat from small farms.

Michael said...

The fact that you eat mostly vegetarian, means you're cutting down your carbon footprint enough to make up for all the flights you ever want to take. : )

If everyone followed your example and started with even just one vegetarian day a week, the climate crisis would be history.

JJN said...

So I guess I will drive to the Inauguration...

Michael said...

Absolutely. It would still be great if we could find a Hybrid...

Maybe we can ask a car company to sponsor our trip and they can put an ad on the side of the car about their green tech?