Climate Change Top 10 (& Footnotes)
- Advocate for pro-climate and clean energy legislation at the county, state and national levels and support and vote for candidates who are advocates for pro-climate legislation.1
- Switch you home electric energy source to renewable, such as wind or solar.2
- Reduce your transportation footprint by driving less and/or using a more fuel efficient car.3
- Reduce food waste.4
- Reduce (or eliminate) your consumption of meat (especially beef & lamb).5
- Plant and maintain trees 6
- Do an Energy Audit for you home, and fix the worst energy wasters.7
- Reduce airplane travel.8
- Buy fewer consumer goods and services and redirect some of the money you save to pro-climate products, NGOs, charities, businesses and politicians.9
- Buy carbon offsets to reduce you net carbon footprint to the world target of 2T.10
Footnote 1: Changing the laws can have the greatest effect on the largest number of people. See UULM and UUCC Climate Advocacy. Interestingly, beyond the topics typically considered in Climate Change (energy, transportation and food), the book Drawdown ranks the advocacy issues of “Educating Girls” and “Family Planning” as #6 and #7 greatest worldwide opportunities to reverse global warming. Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken, is subtitled “The most comprehensive plan ever produced to reverse global warming” and is available in the UUCC bookstore.
Footnote 2: Home Energy is typically the single largest source of GHG emissions for households, typically between 2T and 8T. (#1 per EPA, and #2 opportunity worldwide per Drawdown (after refrigeration)). There are multiple green energy sources (mostly solar and wind) available for local BGE customers. UUCC is partnering with Neighborhood Sun https://uucolumbia.net/climate-change-action-team/. Other suppliers with green options include Clean Choice, Green Mountain and WGL. Installing solar panels is also an option. The amount of GHG produced per kWh from generating electricity depends on the fuel used: coal = 909, oil = 821, natural gas = 465; solar = 105; wind = 13; nuclear = 6; hydro = 4.
Footnote 3:The EPA lists Transportation as the #2 largest area of GHG emissions in the US. In their carbon footprint model https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/, they list how much you can save by increasing your MPG, switching to electric or reducing mileage driven. More ideas are on the UUCC Climate checklist.
Footnote 4: Reducing Food Waste is ranked by Drawdown as the #3 opportunity in the world to reduce GHG. Experts estimate that from 25% to 50% of food is wasted in the US, much of it at the consumer level. Click here for the UUCC checklist for over 20 ideas to reduce food waste, or sign up for a CSA, Hungry Harvest, or Imperfect Produce.
Footnote 5: A Plant Rich Diet is ranked by Drawdown as the #4 opportunity in the world to reduce GHG. Reducing meat consumption also has health benefits. The amount of GHG generated varies by the type of meat (kg CO2e per kg consumed food): lamb = 39.2; beef = 27.0; cheese = 13.5; pork = 12.1; farmed salmon = 11.0; turkey = 10.9; chicken = 6.9; canned tuna = 6.1; eggs = 4.8. Look for a link from the UUCC Climate Team soon for more information on reducing meat consumption.
Footnote 6: A mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year, or a metric ton every 40 years. Land usage (mostly trees) is the only category listed by the EPA that is a net absorber or “sink” of GHG. Drawdown ranks tree and forest related topics as #5, #12, #15, #35, #38 and #39 worldwide. If you don’t have property to plants your own trees, there are also multiple carbon offset suppliers which offer tree planting (see footnote 10).
Footnote 7: BGE offers Energy Audits for $100. Their contractor does the audit (it takes 2-3 hours) and supplies about $100 worth of free energy-efficient merchandise (eg. lightbulbs, power strips, shower heads). The audit provides a list of potential areas of saving, and an estimate for some of the projects (such as insulation). BGE provides rebates for certain projects, if done by their certified suppliers. See also the UUCC checklist.
Footnote 8: Although it is impossible to measure precisely, it is generally acknowledged that the GHG emitted per passenger mile is higher for flying than for driving a car, especially for trips less than 500 miles. So, where possible, avoid airline travel, especially for shorter trips. When air travel cannot be avoided, consider buying carbon offsets. See Footnote 10.
Footnote 9: In addition to the “primary” carbon footprint (energy, transportation, food), we all have a secondary carbon footprint from all the goods and services we buy and use. According to several carbon footprint models, in the US, the average secondary footprint is often larger than the primary footprint. Your secondary footprint is directly relates to how much you spend, so buying fewer goods and services will reduce your footprint. (You can estimate your primary and secondary footprints on Carbonfootprint.com.) According to that site, the estimated amount of GHG (in metric tons (MT)) emitted per $1000 spent varies by which good and services are purchased – in descending order: food (.93); vehicles – not including fuel (.69); paper products (.58); computers (.57); mobile phone costs (.55); pharmaceuticals (.45); hotels/restaurants (.45); furniture and manufactured goods (.44); TV and radio (.35); clothes & textiles (.29); insurance (.27); recreational & cultural (.25); education (.22); banking and interest (.16).
Footnote 10: After we have done as many actions as we can to reduce our individual carbon footprints, we will probably still be far above the worldwide annual target of 2T. One viable way to close the gap is to purchase carbon offsets. There are multiple legitimate carbon offset suppliers, and carbon offsetting can be very cost effective supplement to our actions and advocacy to reduce CO2 emissions. For a primer on carbon offsets, click here.
02/2019 For questions, comments and corrections on the footnotes, please contact Ken Crandell.