Bichon Frise wrote:
What modern convenience are you willing to give up to save mother earth? Most blab on about solar/wind energy but never give me a straight answer. I want action today! Most will not offer up a sacrifice and mumble that they are only a drop in the bucket. They only wish others to sacrifice.
"Sacrifice" is the wrong way of looking at it. I've spent years reducing my greenhouse gas emissions to where our emissions are about 80% below those of the average U.S. household, but I've never really made any sacrifices that I can think of. I'm cheating because I happen to live in Québec, where almost all our electricity comes from hydropower, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases, but I used to live in places where my electricity use did contribute to climate change, and I was able to reduce my emissions with no real pain and some financial benefit.
Forget renewable energy for now, you can get a long way toward reducing your emissions just by following the points below:
The keys are:
1. Improve energy efficiency in your home and office. As Amory Lovins says, energy efficiency is not only a free lunch, it's a lunch you're paid to eat. There are very few energy efficiency improvements you can make that will not pay for themselves in a few years or less, and after that it's all profit. Lawrence Berkeley Lab even did a comparison years ago of investments in energy efficiency and investments in the stock market, and ROI of energy efficiency improvements beat the market indexes in most cases. EPA's Energy Star program saves Americans $18 billion/year on their energy bills, which is something like twice EPA's entire operating budget. What's not to love about that?
If you rent and don't own your home, you can still save. I got my electric bill down to $35/month while living in rented apartments and cottages in New England, one of the regions in North America with the highest electricity prices (well, nothing like Hawaii, but still).
There are zillions of websites telling you how to improve energy efficiency in your home or office. Google is your friend. You can start here: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/
2. Transportation: You don't need a Prius to save the world, but it helps to think long and hard about how much car you really need, and whether you even need a car in some cases. My Toyota Matrix is 8 years old and only has 45,000 miles on it. I used to drive that much every two years. Now I take public transport or ride my bike. No sacrifice, and in many cases fewer headaches (it can take 20 minutes just to find a parking place in my city) and better health (biking is good exercise).
3. Waste: Recycling is all well and good, but the biggest benefits come from source reduction (reduced packaging, not buying stuff you don't need) and reuse. All the benefits of "frugality" apply here, and don't necessarily involve sacrifice unless you see frugality as a sacrifice in itself.
I think these are some good ideas for small scale starter conservation. If people realized leaving their computer on or leaving the printer plugged in drains energy, they may change their behavior.
But the micro scale needs to go beyond crushing a few cans, buying an appliance with an energy star rating and planting a garden. The alter of environmentalism requires more. Give up the vehicle, give up the air conditioning, give up the yard with green grass, give up the multiple room home/apartment. Show us the way to the promised land.
The slothful scientist servants neither work hard nor efficient enough to please the almighty mother herself. Mush, Mush you indolent fools! For it is you that must save us! I cannot be bothered to unplug my modern contraptions nor go a summer without air conditioning nor take public transport. You should raise up the technology to make me feel green. I shall reduce your food rations until I feel a slight tint of green.
An so it goes...