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J. Harrington, "Climate Diet" - Creating a Cooler Climate: You Can Make a Difference

Global warming. The subject seems to be coming up a lot these days. Extreme weather events are becoming more common. Fertile land is morphing into desert. Each year seems hotter than the next. In fact, global mean temperatures increased significantly during the past century and scientists predict that they could climb 6o F - 11.5o F by 2100 with bigger increases in the North America.

What is the main culprit behind global warming? We are. Our overuse of carbon-based energy sources like coal, natural gas and oil contributes to the greenhouse gases that are warming our world. Each year humans collectively spew around 55 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2e) into the atmosphere. On average, Americans contribute about 20 tonnes per person to the tally. Twenty tonnes! The result is that the Earth’s paper thin layer of heat trapping gases is becoming too dense.

harrington1.jpgWhat can we do about this growing problem? Plenty! We don’t need to wait around for industry or government to save us. We can choose to take personal responsibility for our own contribution to global warming; one individual, family, school and community at a time. It has never been easier to cut back on our use of fossil fuels, recycle, buy healthier and more climate friendly foods and products, and save money in the process. There are literally hundreds of low cost actions we can take to make a difference. Listed below are just a few low cost, high impact suggestions that collectively can reduce the average family’s carbon footprint by 20-30%. You do not have to do everything at once. Start with lifestyle changes that you and your family are most comfortable with---changes that, over time can accrue real environmental benefits.

So what are we waiting for? It is time to start cutting our carbon footprint!

Fifteen steps to a cooler climate:

  1. Partially or completely replace one or more vehicles with a combination of public transportation alternatives.
  2. Reduce or eliminate air travel.
  3. If you must buy a vehicle, purchase the most fuel efficient one that will suit your family’s needs (hold on to used vehicles until they come to the end of their useful lives).
  4. Turn down the thermostat on your heater 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and turn up your air conditioning 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. If you do not have a programmable thermostat, get one.
  5. Fully weatherize and insulate your home.
  6. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs throughout your home.
  7. Increase your recycling and composting rate to at least 60% and reduce your overall waste stream 25% or more (avoid heavily packaged items, spend less time money and energy shopping your life away).
  8. Insulate your water heater/pipe system and consider reducing hot water temperature, especially when you are not at home.
  9. Reduce hot water use by installing low flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Cook liquids in insulated containers and reduce stove use.
  10. If you need new appliances, buy the most energy efficient available.
  11. Reduce meat consumption, especially beef.
  12. Buy local, organic and minimally packaged food.
  13. Create wildlife-friendly habitats in outside spaces.
  14. Join a group/organization that is working on environmental issues.
  15. Make environmental issues a top priority when voting or volunteering.
Copyright by Dr. Jonathan Harrington, 2008
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