Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saving Energy

Delaying the process to reduce global warming could cause substantial risks. As the authors Dow and Downing said, “The climate system responds slowly, so the positive benefits of actions taken today will not be realized for decades.” So basically, the longer the wait, the greater risk the planet has.

It is quite unfortunate that even though something is and will be done for the future of the planet, reducing greenhouse gas emissions can never make the climate and ecosystems return to the way they were before. Well, some of the worst consequences can still be avoided, but only if there is an extreme reduction in emissions than before. On the other hand, reducing emissions will definitely require massive changes to the world’s carbon-based economy and the current inefficient use of energy. According to Dow and Downing, “The first round of the Kyoto Protocol committed the industrialized countries among the signatories to an average 5 percent reduction. However, the European Union environment ministers estimate that a reduction of between 60 and 80 percent will be needed to prevent dangerous climate change.”

Burning fossil fuels to power homes and run cars creates global warming pollution. The Union of Concerned Scientists said that 70 percent of the electricity is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil, but only 2 percent from renewable sources in America alone. Not just that, but can you believe that cars and trucks alone make up 25 percent of the United States carbon dioxide emissions?! I mean, how scary is that?! The sad part is that even if we humans do want to or try to reduce/prevent the usage of carbon dioxide emissions, we just can’t. For example, if we do not drive in a car, a bus or metro will most likely be taken. But either way, it’s not helping the planet.

Essentially, everybody can take action to fight global warming, and there is plenty of advice on how to do it. Some people might think that doing something as little as turning off a light bulb will not help, when the truth is that everything (whether it be big or small) makes a huge difference. Now, what should be done? Well, one of the biggest problems nowadays is the use of energy. Using less energy not only helps the planet, but also saves money on household bills. How good does that sound? For example, one should buy an “Energy-efficient” refrigerator, which actually saves about half a ton of carbon dioxide per year. Not just that, but instead of using standard light bulbs, one should use “Compact fluorescent light bulbs,” which are about 75 percent more efficient than the standard light bulbs. Lastly, one can reduce energy consumption just by sitting at home by insulating the windows, doors, and electrical outlets, and adding more insulation to the attic and basement (Dow and Downing 89).

Whether one is at home or on the road, the use of energy can definitely be saved. As Dow and Downing said, “Walking, cycling, using a car pool or taking public transport, all produce fewer emissions than those emitted by a single person in a car.” For example, instead of buying a regular car, one should go for a more efficient car, such as a hybrid gasoline-electric model so that way emissions are reduced. Well, even if one does not have a hybrid car, they can still help by reducing gasoline consumption. It is actually a fact that for every gallon of gasoline that is burned, about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide enter the atmosphere. Now, here’s something interesting I didn’t even know until I read it in a book. It is said that driving at 5 miles per hour below the speed limit over an 8-mile commute to work saves 250 kg of carbon dioxide per year (Dow and Downing 88). Wow! I can’t believe that reducing the speed of a car also makes a difference. I speed most of the time I am on the road, but after reading this, I realized that I shouldn’t just be slowing down to prevent getting speeding tickets, but also to help the world I live in.

As the Union of Concerned Scientists said, “By Using energy more efficiently and moving to renewable energy, we can reduce our contribution to global warming while creating a stronger, healthier, and more secure nation.”

References:

Dow, Kirstin, and Thomas Downing. The Atlas of Climate Change.Berkeley and Los Angeles: Myriad Editions Limited,2006.

"Global Warming." Union of Concerned Scientists. 21 May 2007. Union of Concerned Scientists. 27 Nov 2007. <http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/>

3 comments:

Julie P. said...

Great writing here...and thankfully this is still in the news. With the election of Rudd as the new Austrailian Prime Minister, he said just over the last few days that Austrailia will sign the Kyoto Treaty. This will leave the United States as the ONLY industrialized Western country to not sign. And we're the biggest carbon polluters...

Very scary indeed.

Dave said...

You cover your subject well. I like going back to your links and reading what you read. I agree with Julie that America always seems to be the one who doesnt want to play nice. Kyoto or the UN dues. But the global sites never seem to get to the root of the big problem.

N. McKenzie said...

I just love coming and reading to blogs for the week. They are always so informative and well put together.