Category Archives: carbon footprint

Is it Time to Stop Asking Whether Climate Change is Real?

Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)
Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)

Last night U.S. Senators talked “all night” about climate change. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid started the discussion at about 6 p.m. EDT yesterday, with the final address by Sen. Bill Nelson ending about 15 hours later, right before 9 a.m. EDT today. The White House posted live tweets during the overnight session under the hashtag #up4climate.

HT_cspan_mar_140310_16x9_608“We have a simple message for all Americans: We’re not going to rest until Congress acts on the most pressing issue of our time,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a freshman Democrat from Hawaii, who organized the all-nighter on the Senate floor.

Kate Sheppard live blogged the event; you can read the details of the speeches on Huffington Post.  

Many climate change activists are unhappy with the lack of progress on climate change by the Obama administration despite promises during the elections. Climate change deniers point to inadequate/conflicting evidence, uncertainty in the science because scientists are liberals, assertion that the effects are acceptable, and even that it’s a hoax.

Many Republicans see the issue as anti-business, so oppose efforts for the legislators to address climate change. 55% of Republicans in the House of Representatives and 65% of those in the Senate reject the science behind climate change or oppose action on climate change, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

How could something like climate change elicit so much partisan politics in the U.S.? Younger people here apparently see things differently – a bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters shows 80% support for Barack Obama’s climate change plan among voters under 35 years of age.

Perhaps this battle here in the U.S. is another between the religious right and the … well … almost everyone else. Why can’t religion and science just get along?

aa bruno1In the premiere episode of the program Cosmos on Sunday night, there was a segment about how the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno in the late 1500s expressed cosmological theories of an infinite universe. He was tried, convicted, and burned at the stake for heresy by the Roman Inquisition which was a method used by the Roman Catholic Church to stifle any alternative thinking. (Copernicus and Galileo were among its victims.)

According to a report yesterday in ClimateProgress, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of National Geographic and Fox’s new show Cosmos, said Sunday that he thinks the media needs to stop providing false balance in stories on scientific subjects like climate change.

“… science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

These conflicts boil down to a anthrocentric view of the world versus an isotropic Universe view. Are humans on Earth the center of the Universe and all that matters to God? Are humans supposed to use the Earth and its resources without thought for the future? We will soon look back on the climate change debate the same way we now look back on the idea of the Earth as the center of the universe.

However, while disagreement on the Earth’s position in the cosmos had significant implications for the power of the religious institutions of the time, acting as if climate change is real hurts whom, exactly? Even some of the world’s largest energy companies acknowledge climate change.

It’s time we stop arguing about it and take what actions are needed to preserve life on Earth. Because even if the consensus of scientists is wrong, taking care of the Earth not only makes sense, it is our moral obligation.

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4 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

There are several easy, but not obvious, ways people can reduce their carbon footprint.

carbon footprintEating locally grown food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Buying local not only reduces the use of fossil fuels, it also helps the local economy and is typically healthier than eating food from distant lands. Local food is typically fresher, tastier, and uses fewer or no chemicals.

Unplugging electronics when not in use reduces the use of electricity in the home and workplace. Even when not in use, electronics that are plugged in use a small trickle of electricity, commonly called phantom load and standby power. Have you ever noticed those little green or red lights, or the always-on clock display? Over time, this waste adds up. Lawrence Berkeley National Labs estimates that as much as 10% of residential electricity use is from standby power, which is responsible for about 1% of global CO2 emissions.  One way to make the turn-offs easier is to use power strips and end the phantom use with one switch for multiple appliances or electronics.

A third way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to reduce or avoid printing at the office and at home. Printing uses electricity as well as chemicals and paper. Much of the electricity used by printers, especially laser printers, is from standby mode. Instead of printing so much, review drafts on the computer screen and share documents online using a cloud-based service such as Google Drive, DropBox, or SharePoint. Also, Energy Star printers have lower standby electricity use.

Lastly, you can simply buy less stuff. Buying less by purchasing only what you need means you are simply not participating in the culture of overconsumption common is many western societies and directly linked to our individual carbon footprint.

Using these few easy steps, you can make meaningful progress toward reducing your carbon footprint.

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