Global warming is a hot topic right now (apologies for the pun) but does it really impact the thoughts and plans of your present daily life. Probably not. Despite the rhetoric, it is one of those things that people just cannot relate to. When the President tells us he wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, do we know exactly what that means or us individually? Do we all know exactly what we have to do to reach this goal and save planet Earth?
The problem with this problem is that nobody really knows what the problem is and how to solve it. The debate is relying on scientific data that has to be interpreted and there are two lobbies on the subject – one that says we humans are destroying our own planet and the other which says this is a natural phenomenon our planet has gone though for millions of years, from one Ice Age to the next. The bottom line is, we cannot relate to this discussion as individuals or families so we cannot contribute to the debate, let alone the solution.
Even if we take drastic action here in North America it will have little impact on the degeneration of our planet if the emerging economies (China, Russia, India) do nothing. This does not bode well for global trade in the future as the western world (USA, Europe) could potentially start punishing polluting countries with trade tariffs and penalties on products that have been made with high levels of pollution. This would give rise to all sorts of undesirable tension around the world. This is all high-level stuff that we as individuals cannot relate to so we have to find other ways to motivate ourselves to contribute to the preservation of planet Earth.
So forgetting the high-level debate for a moment, what can we do as individuals to help our planet avoid this potential disaster. We have to bring down the discussion to a form we can understand locally that motivates us to action now; not when the politicians have signed their agreements. What can we do in our daily lives that not only makes us feel good but also could potentially save us a lot of money?
Energy and transportation represent a large portion of our monthly expenses and these are the things that mainly cause the pollution problem. Are there ways and things we can do to save ourselves lots of money, reduce overall pollution and significantly contribute to reducing global warming now, not just in the future? Here is a 10-point plan that everyone can do right now to make a major impact:
- Commit to having one “car-free” day every week. This may require some planning but it can be done.
- Only drive the speed limit and use the “cruise-control” on the freeway. Never stand long without moving on “idle”. Turn the engine off.
- Avoid unnecessary trips to the store to buy things you forgot. Make a list and buy those items next visit. Buy in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco.
- Change your thermostat three degrees down in the winter and three degrees up in the summer.
- Discover, write down and paste up on your fridge the off-peak power times of your utility company. Make sure you only run washers and dryers during these periods.
- Turn TV’s off that are only on to create “background noise”. This is a good move anyway!
- Turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater two notches.
- Check every door and window for gaps or drafts. Use some simple materials to close these gaps – fillers or rubber strips from Home Depot.
- Take in your car for a “tune-up” and/or service. This could also save you lots of money.
- Take public transport at every opportunity.
If we would all follow these and other simple rules we could make a major impact not just on the environment but also our monthly budgets. Not doing these simple things is just a waste of money and energy and if we don’t make this our priority then the government will come and make those decisions for us. Global warming should be a priority in all of our lives all of the time. Even if you don’t see the immediate effect on planet Earth, you will definitely see a big impact on your pocketbook. This is something you can measure and boast about to the rest of the world and start to make a significant difference.