Monday, October 15, 2007

Carbon Footprinting

Since Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize last week, I've been doing a lot of thinking about environmental concerns. Actually, I've been doing that for about 20 years now, but its finally really trendy. We've seen a shift in thinking in the last few years, and things are starting to get interesting. The general public is starting to be concerned about the impact their lives have on the rest of the world. Its like the butterfly effect-a butterfly in the Amazon flaps its wings and it effects Japan.

As a nation, we need to be concerned about the impact all that we do on the rest of the world. We are the largest, most prosperous country in terms of per capita income and consumption. We, as a nation, need to focus on what we can do in our everyday lives to make this world a better place.

First, and most obvious, decrease consumption. It does sound quite simple, doesn't it? In practice it is much more difficult, and expensive. However, by switching to just one energy efficient light bulb, you are saving 80 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Just one lightbulb! Imagine if everyone in the United States switched to energy efficient light bulbs for half the lighting in their homes, in a year we would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a greater number than if we all stopped driving. San Fransisco is pledging to turn off all the lights for an hour this upcoming Saturday. It is an interesting proposition, but the cynical side of me thinks that its reeking of a publicity stunt.

What would happen if we all turned off the lights for one hour in America? In the city, you would be able to see the stars. You could have a romantic dinner by candlelight. We could relive our pioneer days. I was always a Little House on the Prairie addict as a child and would pretend to be living back then. However, I don't know if I could do it for even a hour. Several weeks ago, we lost power for a few hours and it was hell. My son is afraid of the dark, so his crying and anxiety were killing me.

There are so many simple common sense answers to saving the planet. Recycle, reuse and reduce. There are better energy saving options-low flush toilets and showers, collecting rain water to water your lawn, carpooling. I would love to say that I do it all to save the planet, but it is baby steps for my family. Just getting my son to turn off the light or tv when he leaves the room is a minor triumph. Its like I won the Nobel prize myself.

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