Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Local Action on Climate Change

The Washington Post had an opinion piece this past weekend that got me motivated. This article is about how we can work to reduce CO2 emissions regardless of our acceptance of climate change science: "How to stop global warming - even if you don't believe in it".

The article addresses how politicians in Washington can get over the hump and pass legislation that is good for the environment, but without having to say it is.
So what's a conservative politician [the primary foot-draggers on climate change legislation] who secretly cares about climate change to do? How can Republicans, in Congress or in legislatures around the country, make the case to their colleagues - and how can they bring conservative voters along?

They must start by focusing on climate-friendly policies and stop assuming that we must first achieve unanimity on global warming science. People can support the transition to a carbon-free energy future without believing, or even knowing, that it might influence glaciers, coral reefs or Arctic ice.

There is a long list of carbon-reduction measures that strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents firmly support, including mandating better fuel efficiency, increasing federal funding for clean-energy research, spending more for mass transit, raising efficiency standards for homes and other buildings, and requiring utilities to produce more energy from renewable sources. They even support limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases - just as long as they are seen as anti-pollution measures, not "caps."
This, of course, can be applied to state-houses as well as Washington. And local governments. And community actions among neighbors. This is what that looks like in Montana:

The local CBS affiliate, KPAX, is broadcasting a series of energy-reduction, green-living, and carbon-reducing activities this week that anybody can take. You can watch Sunday's segment here.

While the recent tough economic times mean that you may not be able to afford to buy a Prius or build a sustainable home, there are some simple ways you can help the environment without spending a dime.

...While unplugging a few items around the house might not have a significant impact on your monthly energy bill, the environment will thank you.

"[There are] ways to measure our consumption and to become aware are going to be the biggest savings out there," Big Sky Solar and Wind Vice President Mike Sudik advised.

...Plasma TVs use almost 20 watts per hour when they are off, but plugged in. If you leave that plasma TV on when you're not watching it, each hour it uses 324 watts. So, if you left your TV on for a month that would cost around $40.

"The more you test that stuff the more you become aware and learn how everything is," Sudik advised. Walter Bernauer and Sudik run a solar company and most of their days are spent figuring out how to save energy. They tell their costumers that they don't have to get rid of their Plasma TVs and computers to save energy, as long as they are remembering to turn them off.

...So, even if you're only saving on a small scale, you're still helping the environment by using less electricity every day.

The program emphasizes caring for our natural environment and saving money (rather than spending money we don't have for more energy-efficient items.)

They also mentioned another local ''green' event in Missoula on November 6. Northwestern Energy, the electricity and natural gas company in the Upper Midwest and Northwest U.S., held Home Energy Expos around Montana this fall to help their customers lower their energy demand. The Missoula event was the largest, with natural gas customers waiting over an hour for free weatherization kits, access to information on reducing energy costs and qualifying for federal and state tax incentives, and participating in drawings for free home energy 'make-overs' worth thousands of dollars.

These kinds of local efforts are encouraging after a disappointing legislative session in Washington this past year. Montanans care about saving money, saving energy, and saving the environment. Power to the People!

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