As the US government backs off of various environmental regulations aimed at protecting our water, air and slowing the rate of carbon dioxide we are sending into the atmosphere, we are still on the hook for what happens next. Lets face it, those of us old enough to read knew climate change was happening in the ’70s (and, yes, as a kid I read Mother Earth News).
So what can we, as individuals, do to slow climate change?
I turn to the New York Times, which had an article speaking to this subject.
Step one. We drive too much.
Over two years, the average American driver travels a distance equal to the circumference of the earth. The average new vehicle gets only about 25 miles per gallon, which corresponds to about three-quarters of a pound of greenhouse gas emissions for each mile driven. Each year in the United States, 214 million drivers (with 240 million registered vehicles) drive 2.7 trillion miles, emitting about 2.4 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, based on the current fleet average of 21.4 m.p.g.
So, our options are to get a better car, or drive a bit less. If, like me, you need a better car but it may not be the right time to be forking out a lot of money, driving even a little less is a great answer.
If US cars averaged 56 miles per gallon, it would cut 10% of it’s greenhouse gas emissions. Yikes. that would cut a lot of that 2.4 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide mentioned above. But that won’t happen until gas goes back up to $4-5 dollars a gallon or above again.
So, next best things would cut 2.2% of emissions:
• Reduce the distance you drive by 1.2 percent. That’s the equivalent of about 13 miles a month for the average American driver, who logs roughly 13,000 miles a year
• Replace a vehicle getting the current average of 21.4 m.p.g. with one that gets 21.7 m.p.g.
• Keep your tires inflated to the recommended air pressure, or buy new tires marketed to have better rolling resistance.
• Reduce your driving over 70 m.p.h. by 25 percent.
• Reduce aggressive driving — making hard starts and stops, and speeding far above posted limits — by 25 percent.
• Fly 10 percent less.
• Turn down thermostat by three degrees, eight hours a day in winter.
• Replace one of every five incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.
• Reduce food consumption by 2 percent, roughly 48 fewer calories for many people. A miniature box of raisins is 42 calories.
• Reduce meat consumption by 7 percent — about a pound a month for some adults.
• Cut the amount of discarded food by 13 percent. This could be about three meals a week from leftovers that would have been thrown away.