Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reducing our Carbon Footprint is Critical: Take Action

I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher the other night with my husband, and the hot discussion was global warming. Bill and his guests were talking about how the current adminstation has done nothing.  Basically addressing global warming has been put on hold because Bush wants the next President to make the hard choices required to deal with it. Richard Clarke, the counter terrorism czar, was on the panel and he said something that really stuck in my head.  

"The real problem is, the last eight years were probably the critical years where we might have done something. And, you know, when we look back – and my book is about government failure, and I say in it, the biggest failure probably that has ever happened of the American government is the failure to do something about global warming. Because the consequences are going to be staggering. And the time when we could have done something about it has probably passed. You know, we should still try. But, the time when we could have really done something to mitigate carbon emissions, the president was saying there wasn’t a problem."

Ok, we all know Clarke really dislikes the President (and so do I) so his statement is more than a little slanted, but I do agree that the clock is ticking. We are approaching "midnight". So the question is have we reached a tipping point where we can't do anything to reverse global warming?

I hope not.  Global warming is a huge and scary issue. Fifteen years ago or so when anyone talked about climate change and global warming, it was hard for us to grasp the concept--what we were told was about the hole in the ozone layer-- because we did not see any changes. But now we see how our weather is changing, think Katrina. If our government is not going to do anything we as individuals MUST take matters into our own hands.

The Environmental Defense Fund released a new analysis that revealed that the overall cost of capping greenhouse gases for the average American family will amount to less than one percent of household budgets over the next two decades. To put this into perspective, assume your family has an annual income of $75,000.  We're talking less than $750 dollars a year.  The anticipated cost to the U.S. economy of reducing emissions is small, even difficult to measure against projected economic growth, but the most expensive policy by far is to do nothing at all

 Another study just release conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon revealed that our dietary choices, not food miles (how long food travels from production to consumption), determine a household's food-related climate impacts. So eating a cow raised on industrial corn is worse for the environment than eating a Mango from Mexico shipped to your grocery store.  

The researchers report that fruit, vegetables, meat and milk produced closer to home rack up fewer petroleum-based transport miles than foods trucked cross country to your table. Yet despite the large distances involved the average distance traveled for food in the U.S. is estimated at 4,000-5,000 miles ­the large non-energy based greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing food make food production matter much more than distance traveled. So the energy used to grow feed, fertilize, slaughter and transport is much more than the energy used to import fruits and veggies to the U.S.

Researchers Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews suggest that eating less red meat and/or dairy products may be a more effective way for concerned citizens to lower their food-related climate impacts. Moving to a diet that is entirely local would reduce the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions as driving 1,000 miles, while changing only one day per week’s meat and dairy-based calories to chicken, fish, or vegetables would have about the same impact. Shifting entirely from an average American diet to a vegetable-based one would reduce the same emissions as 8,000 miles driven per year.

We're doing our part.  We've joined a CSA (community supported agriculture farm) to lower our dietary carbon footprint and eat locally grown fruits and vegetables. Additionally, we've made a commitment to grow as much of our own food as we can in our family garden. 

So, what are you going to do? 

(Click on the image above by Learning Fundamentals to see different things you can do to help solve global warming)


Anonymous said...

How can you say it is bad to fly? If you add up the carbon emissions produced by the total number of cars it would take to transport the number of passenger that fly versus the carbon emissions of planes, I believe you will reach a different conclusion than it is bad to fly. -Pam

Anonymous said...

How can you say it is bad to fly? If you add up the carbon emissions produced by the total number of cars it would take to transport the number of passengers that fly versus the carbon emissions of planes, I believe you will reach a different conclusion than it is bad to fly. -Pam

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