Let's not argue. I don't know what you believe about global warming, and I don't intend to try to change your mind, whatever you believe. However, I have viewed information from many sources and I am of the opinion that it is real and the world is in danger. Our environment, our coastlines, our way of life, and the lives of millions, including our grandchildren, are in danger.
That's my opinion on the subject of global warming. You will have to form your own opinions. If you want to know more on the subject but don't know where to start, I recommend Al Gore's movie, “An Inconvenient Truth". I rented a copy from Blockbuster and watched it, but it is also available for purchase at http://www.climatecrisis.net
What I DO know personally is that the resources of the earth are finite and some are beginning to get close to running out, particularly those petroleum resources that heat and cool our homes, cook our food, heat the water in our bath, and help propel our assorted array of motor vehicles and transportation devices. I also know that those parts of the earth that I have loved for over half a century and wanted to pass on to my kids and grandkids are rapidly becoming an embarrassment for those of us who have not done anything to stop what is happening to them. You know, fields, the air, water, birds, animals. . . silly stuff like that.
Reversing this is going to be a huge job, and we normally assign huge jobs like this to “the government", whoever they are. Wait a minute, isn't the government our servant? Oh? I thought not. Anyway, “the government" is an ungainly beast which normally moves very slowly and is often ineffective and tends to break things when it tries to move quickly. It also tends to follow the biggest carrot.
However, much of the reversal needed could be accomplished by people like you and me, if we can convince enough people to act more in favor of the future of the planet and less in favor of personal gain and self-aggrandizement.
Here are some ways I have found that a person or family, and even some businesses and governmental units, can begin changing the possibility of a bleak environmental future into a brighter one. By the way, I know that these are easily done because in the last six months, my wife and I have done most of them. If we can do it, anybody can.
1. Get a more fuel efficient vehicle. Now, don't go out and buy a new car just because I said that, but when it IS time to get a new car, why not make fuel efficiency a factor. Your wallet will thank you when you fill up at the gas pump. You know, the other day, my wife and I were sitting at a stoplight near our home, and four huge SUV's went through the green light. . . each with only one person. Look around the next time you're stuck in traffic. Do you think all those SUV's and pickups with one person belong to huge families that regularly transport such large items that they HAD to have an SUV or pickup?
2. Get a hybrid car. My wife and I purchased a hybrid, a Toyota Prius. We get more than double the gas mileage of our previous car and still get a nice, comfortable ride. There's plenty of room inside, and we got a tax incentive. Many states and cities, by the way, offer additional perks for hybrid owners. Some give parking breaks, some give HOV lane access even with one person in the car, and some give other benefits. You'll probably get a higher trade-in when you go to get your next car.
3. Change your light bulbs. In case you haven't seen them in the store, there is a new type of light bulb, the compact fluorescent. Just as an example, the replacement compact fluorescent for a typical 60 watt incandescent bulb uses only 13 watts and will save approximately $37 over the life of the bulb. While these bulbs are more expensive up front than standard bulbs, they last five or six times as long as the standard bulb. Although your cash savings are not that great per bulb, as you can see, using them in place of a standard bulb can cut the electricity used for lighting by about 75%. Just imagine if you gradually replaced all the bulbs in your house, and so did your neighbor. One small benefit I noticed immediately. I live in Texas where it is HOT all Summer long. These lower wattage bulbs generate less heat, and my air conditioner (energy efficient) actually was better able to cool the house once I started using them!
4. Get energy efficient appliances. The next time you need to replace a refrigerator, air conditioner, hot water heater, washer, dryer or other appliance, shop with energy efficiency in mind. Appliances now have labels that will give you an idea of how efficient each appliance is so you can compare. Don't get one bigger than you need. Again, your personal savings for electricity may be small, but the benefit to the environment is great.
5. Use green power. Almost every power company can provide a green option. This is power generated by various means such as wind or solar power. Give them a call or check their web site and find out more about what they have to offer. Green power is usually slightly more expensive but again, the benefit to the environment is what you are trying to accomplish. My electric company estimates that my using their green power program saves, in a year, the rough equivalent of a the pollution caused by a car driving 3,900 miles.
6. Vote with your wallet. Let's face it. The big companies that have a vested interest in preserving the status quo will take notice if our buying habits begin to change. They know what's being bought, and they tend to be more responsive to the will of the people than “the government". Get real, folks, they are still churning out behemoths for the highway because that is what a large chunk of the population is asking for. If more people start asking for hybrid cars, compact fluorescent light bulbs, energy efficient appliances, and green power, SOMEBODY will gear up to provide it. The existence of a market also encourages research and development and competition to provide the next best model. Want a kick? Go to Google.com and do a search on something simple like “emergency power". You might be amazed at all the interesting new items becoming available that can provide emergency backup power, and the cute little tricks that are now being done with portable solar power units.
This is not everything that can be done. There are many other steps each of us can take. The first thing that pops into people's minds is recycling. That's good, but here's another. What's wrong with second hand. . . excuse me. . . pre-owned? There are millions of lonely, practically new items sitting on shelves waiting for you to take them home. What do you and I do instead? We go buy everything new, which means more resources have to be used to produce and transport these goods. . . and we won't talk about the packaging that is clogging the landfill (or my garage). Who cares if your great-looking tackle box, hammer, or blender is new or used? Not only will you be helping keep stuff like this from going to the landfill possibly, but you will probably save a bunch of money as well! You can use the money you save to put a few gallons of gas in your new hybrid car.
Hey! Can you imagine the impact if businesses started using efficient light bulbs and recycling stuff? I know a few do already, but we need more to do it. If you run a business or know someone who does, why not send them a copy of this article?
Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer. A University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting, he is a member of Mensa and has held several managerial positions. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a blog on the subject of hybrid cars and alternative fuels at http://hybridcarsalternativefuelsandmore.blogspot.com/