If everyone on Earth lived my lifestyle, we would need 3.3 Earths. That’s the result of a questionnaire I completed about our family’s carbon footprint on www.myfootprint.org.
This was an eye-opener, because I thought we were doing just about everything we could to limit our carbon use. I’m thinking more about this because of yesterday’s announcement by President Obama that states have to reduce their emissions from power plants by 30 percent. Even as the coal industry challenges the rules in court and Republicans whine over supposed lost jobs, some in the environmental movement say this level of reduction isn’t enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Before we all have to consider changes that fundamentally alter our lifestyle, like giving up long-distance travel or clothes dryers, I think we should concentrate on things everyone could do that don’t require any personal sacrifice of convenience or comfort. Most of these changes require an initial investment but save money in the long run. Here are some:
1) Change to a hybrid vehicle. Our Prius averages 45 miles per gallon, almost double what our previous vehicle did. The initial price may be a little higher than other cars, new or used, but so is the trade-in value.
2) Install compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) lights. These cut down dramatically on electricity usage (and bills) with little change in illumination. What’s not to like?
3) Insulation. Old houses in particular can benefit from increased insulation, eliminating air leaks and installing double-paned windows, which reduce the need for heating oil.
4) Buying locally produced meat, milk and vegetables. Why have your food trucked from afar when you can support local farms? If you can afford the greater cost of eating local, the payoff is in greater freshness and smaller use of chemicals and antibiotics.
As our terminology has shifted from “global warming” to “climate change,” which more accurately depicts what’s going on, polls show that people consider “climate change” to be less threatening than “global warming.” It’s time we all woke up to the threat, no matter what we call it.