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Solutions for Global Warming
Want some good, new-fashioned fun? Think green in creative new ways and improve your life support system.
Solutions imply knowing what the problem is.
And what the goal is.
In that light, let's look at climate change -- what causes it and what will improve it. And your role in the process.
Climate change is happening because of a growing imbalance of particles such as carbon materials in the atmosphere vs. in the crust of the earth. You can probably guess that they move from one place to another through sizeable events -- not just human -- but they all add up.
They all trap heat in the thin layer of atmosphere that encapsulates earth and our life-supporting layer of air, light and organic processes. That heat changes the atmosphere in numerous ways -- that affect weather and that affects life at ground level.
Since Americans' per capita emissions of heat-trapping gases is 5.6 tons—more than double the amount of western Europeans—we can all make choices that will greatly reduce our families' global warming impact.
- Volcanoes spew pollutants
- Wildfires send solid particles and chemicals into the air
- Massive land movements send dust into the air -- both human created and natural landslides
- Oil, coal and gas exploration, recovery and usage transfer buried carbon particles to the atmosphere through escape...and burning.
- Burning of forests (such as the rainforests) sends carbon soot and smoke into the atmosphere
- Burning of houses, landfill contents, etc. spew forth!
- Even animals produce methane as a natural result of digestion :-)
The Union of Concerned Scientists offer these Ten Personal Solutions that can help solve the global climate change ... right where you live, work and play.
- Use transportation more wisely. Share transportation and choose vehicles for high performance and low fuel usage. Ech gallon of gas you use is responsible for 25 pounds of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. And saving gas will not only save emissions -- it saves costs in your pocketbook!
- Choose clean power. More than half the electricity in the US comes from polluting coal-fired power plants. Turn off lights. Switch to electricity companies that provide 50 to 100 percent renewable energy. (Go to Green-e.org for more information. Green-e is the nation's leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market.)
- Use appliances that are Energy Star rated. (EnergyStar.gov )Compare before you shop for a rental or purchase of appliances, heating and cooling units, home electronics, lighting, office equipment, home improvement, etc.) They have a store locator and rebate finder on the Energy Star website that is awesome. And they have detailed programs to help businesses with buildings and plants, as well as building and remodeling homes. Energy Star is an amazing resource!
Energy savings will pay back the extra investment on high performance purchases within months. Household energy savings really can make a difference: If each household in the United States replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we would save $15 billion in energy costs and eliminate 175 million tons of heat-trapping gases.
- Unplug extra appliances that aren't in use! Take a plug-patrol to see what's plugged in and not being used. Computers, televisions, radios, stereos, refrigerators, hotplates...they all leak energy when sitting idle. Plug the leaks...and clean the air you breathe!
- Get a building energy audit. There are often free home or business energy audits available from your utility companies (electricity and gas). Simple measures such as installing programmable thermostats and insulating heating and cooling systems (water and air) can reduce carbon dioxide emissions...and your utility bill!
- Light bulbs matter. Replace your incandescent bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents...or LEDs. Have you seen the maps from space with all the light? That's us -- you and me! Turning off lights and replacing those billions and billions of bulbs will make a significant difference!
- Think before you drive. If you own more than one vehicle (including bicycles, skateboards :-), etc), use the less fuel-efficient one ony when you can share the ride with others! Driving a full minivan may be kinder to the environment than two midsize cars. Whenever possible, join a carpool or take mass transit.
- Buy good wood. Supporting forests that are managed in a sustainable way helps biodiversity -- you know, all those butterflies, birds and skinks you enjoy! Well managed forests are huge natural workers for cleaner air and carbon management. FSC-certified paper and wood products help protect forests. (Learn more at Forest Stewardship Councilwww.fscus.org)
- Plant trees. You can make a difference by planting trees (and letting them grow to maturity). Arborists and urban foresters can help you select the best kind of trees that balance carbon storage, water table replenishment, habitat for native wildlife...and native plant colony support. Trees are like the infrastructure of the living world -- they provide food, shelter, compost, soil and water nutrition, and many other functions. The right tree in the right places is more valuable than diamonds!
- Let decisionmakers and policymakers know you are concerned about climate change and sustainable environments for all lifeforms. Learn how sustainable natural systems work for our survival -- clean air, fresh water, wholesome food...and life itself.
- Take action on LOCAL critical issues. Know what's facing your local community most urgently. It might be transportation. It might be drought. It might be urban sprawl. Help your coworkers, friends and neighbors understand the need...and give them a practical project to join to make a difference. It might be carpooling. Picking up trash at local streams. Planting a few trees. Turning off lights. Or asking the local utility to buy more green power.
Our opportunity for creativity, innovation and frugality has never been so important or widely recognized as the key to solving our global problems. Have some fun...while you make a difference!
Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions