This article was written by Cath Kestler, a Silver Creek resident. It is posted here with her permission.
We are all contributors to climate change and we all need to be a part of the solution. The recognition of climate change as a moral question is growing, as exemplified by the Summit of the Conscience for the Climate taking place on July 21st in Paris in preparation for the climate negotiations that will take place later in November this year.
It is universally acknowledged that electric energy production is the greatest single activity contributing the largest percentage of CO2 emissions. Although currently producing a relatively small percentage of electricity, renewables comprise the largest capacity for new production being installed (greater than oil, coal, and natural gas). The rate of growth of renewables implementation is greater than the fossil fuel rate of growth as well.
Nearly all states and nations recognize the significance of transforming electric production from fossil fuel to renewables. Most of them have a RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) declared, which ranks the renewables proportions as their ultimate goal.
As contributors we all have an obligation to change the way we live our lives. By requesting renewable electric for one’s residence, the electrons entering the residence aren’t necessarily produced by renewable means; but the kilowatt hours ARE purchased from renewable producers and let into the local grid. It’s easy.
According to James Wilmoth, a fellow climate change activist, “The most cost effective use of your money to reduce CO2 emissions is to use renewable electricity. You may switch to renewables at any time for as little as 10 cents per day, depending on your usage. You may hop in and out of plans or go back to fossil fuels if you feel it’s not for you. The most reasonable plan is no doubt Energy Cooperative of New York:
http://www.ecamerica.org/greenpower/howitworks.html. Another is Ethical Electric at: http://www.ethicalelectric.com. Using renewables is your FIRST STEP in becoming accountable for your personal CO2 emissions thereby mitigating global climate change.”
Other ways you can help is by making every day small changes:
- -Bringing your own re-useable cups to your local coffee shop.
- -Unplug chargers from the wall and turning off computers when they aren’t in use. These waste energy and add as much as 10 percent to your energy bill.
- -Turn off lights when you leave a room. Teach your children to do this as well. A compact fluorescent (CFL) is a better light bulb. It uses 66 percent less energy than a regular bulb and can last up to fifteen times longer. If every residence changed five regular light bulbs and started using CFL’s, it would be the equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the road for a year.
- -Buy appliances that carry the Energy Star label. This signifies the most energy-efficient brand—and the difference between these and the less-efficient ones are enormous. If you were to purchase one of today’s most energy-efficient refrigerators, it will use less than half the energy of a model that’s twelve years or older. Defrost your freezer. When ice builds up, it actually requires more energy to keep it cold.
- -Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes.
- -Think about where things come from, such as toilet paper—an item found in every residence in America—that is still made today mostly from virgin trees cut down from rare 100 to 150 year-old trees. A virgin tree is from a forest untouched by man. Trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, can no longer do, that job if cut down. If every household in the US replaced just one roll of virgin toilet paper with one roll made recycled paper products, 424,000 trees would still be standing. Kleenex and Puffs facial tissue, Bounty, Scotts, and Viva paper towels, Cottonelle and Charmin toilet paper are all made from virgin trees.
- -Pass your magazines on to a friend, hospital, library, or nursing home. The paper industry is the third-largest contributor to global warming pollution.
- -Opt for re-useable bags instead of plastic bags at the store. Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags in each year; less than 1 percent of these bags are recycled. Plastic bags come from petroleum, and the manufacturing of just 14 of these bags uses the same amount of oil that it would take to drive a car one mile. Paper bags are even worse.
- -Back to those re-useable cups, the Container Recycling Institute reports that Americans buy about 25 billion single-serve plastic water bottles each year—requiring more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 US cars for a year, according to the Earth Policy Institute. More than 80% of these bottles are thrown away or become litter 9enough to circle the globe 16 times each year). Buried in a landfill, a plastic bottle can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
- -Calculate your own carbon footprint at: stopglobalwarming.org or climatecrisis.net your estimated annual CO2 footprint is the total CO2 produced by your daily lifestyle. You can offset your personal or business carbon emissions by supporting organizations that build new wind farms, plant trees, and develop solar energy.
Changing simple things in your life can add up to helping combat climate change. It is at crisis levels, whether you believe it or not. Do your part and encourage your children to join in, they do believe. It is long overdue that climate change is addressed as a moral issue. Together we can have a greater impact and save the only planet that we have to pass on to our children.