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7/17/2006 08:20:00 PM | Nathan Empsall

What You Can Do
To Fight Global Warming:

1. Educate yourself. See Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" and Tom Brokaw's Discovery Channel special. If "ATC" is still showing where you are, go check it out. Otherwise, it should be on DVD soon, I'm sure, and I know the Brokaw special will re-air at some point. Tell your friends, too.

2. Buy local. Transporting foods from one end of the country to another in all those 18wheelers takes a LOT of oil, and thus puts out a lot of emissions. Buying local cuts down on the transportation emissions.

3. Use energy-saving light bulbs. We've got a couple around my house; they're just as bright, and they use much less energy. If every American switched to those, we'd really cut down on emissions, and our electricity bills would be smaller. It's win-win.

4. Turn off lights and other machines you're not using - the TV when you're not in the room, the computer when you're not going to use it for awhile, etc. If you've got an empty fridge (an old small one or something), unplug it. If you've got a big freezer in the basement or garage, see if you can't consolidate it into your regular freezer and fridge and unplug it (there's no way I can with mine, but it's worth a look).

5. Walk more, carpool, or use public transportation (when available). On most campuses, you don't have much of a choice. But, if you've got a summer job and find yourself driving 3 blocks to get your lunch break, start walking. I have at my two jobs.

6. Next time you have to make a major purchase, buy energy-friendly. Make sure your next appliance has an energy star on it, and get a car that gets good gas mileage. This is the single most beneficial thing you can do to fight climate change. Half the average American family's CO2 emissions, which total around 15 tons, come from their automobiles, and almost as much from their appliances.

7. Drive faster in the city (if you think you can get away with it) and slower on the freeways. I know going the speed limit (or less) on a freeway is a pain, I've always been a major speed demon, but gas mileage is a curve that peaks, for most vehicles, around 60. I used to consistently drive 80-85 in the 70, and now I do about 70. This will also save you money.

8. Recycle. Recycling aluminum cans saves energy, and recycling paper (newspaper, magazines, cardboard, office paper, mail, you name it) saves CO2-absorbing trees. Both make a difference. Even if there's no recycling in your neighborhood, I'll bet your local schools have recycle bins out front. Bag up your newspapers, cans and magazines and take them to the school once a week or so. That's what we do at my house.

9. Pressure lawmakers through letters and phone calls to sign Kyoto, focus on finding renewable energy sources, set higher emissions standards (something like 5% of the cars create 50% of auto emissions), and lower the speed limit to around 60. Hit both federal and local officials - since the feds have failed to act, many state and local governments are putting in Kyoto-like requirements for local industry. And seriously, writing/calling does make a difference. Constituent input is compiled and reported to the Congressman/Senator on a regular basis. They need to hear from us that this is an important issue, because they're not going to focus on issues that don't have votes. Letters to the editor are also something you can do, though I don't know how much of an impact they really have.

10. Tell your friends.

11. More on educating yourself: "An Inconvenient Truth" recommends climatechange.net. A good one with personal tips is http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/ten-personal-solutions.html. A lot of the stuff there concerns major purchase decisions, so share it with your parents. I also recommend talking to Dartmouth' Sustainability Coordinator, Jim Merkel, if you're on campus. He's got some great knowledge and advice to share.



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