Ten Things we can do against global warming

By now, we all know that global warming is a fact. But for many of us, it’s difficult to understand how our actions are contributing to the problem. It doesn’t feel like we’re polluting when we switch on our television or do our laundry. We pass the blame for global warming off on the government and big business. But that is exactly how the problem of global warming crept up on us: we can’t see the damage we are doing to the environment, and we keep hoping someone else will solve the problem.

However, the truth is that global warming is being caused by the actions of nearly every individual on Earth. Nearly every choice you make as a consumer affects the environment, from the automobile you drive, the products you buy, and the amount of electricity you consume. Here is a list of ten things that will help you reduce global warming, heal the environment, and save money.

1) Drive wisely
A quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted in the U.S. comes from automobiles (1). To reduce your contribution to global climate change, drive only when necessary. Also, try doing all of your weekly errands in one trip. By not driving back home between each errand you save carbon emissions. If you are purchasing a new car, choose something that is fuel efficient or better yet, purchase a hybrid electric vehicle. Whatever type of vehicle you choose to drive, make sure your tires are fully inflated and your engine is operating efficiently.

2) Write to your government
Coal-burning power plants are the biggest contributors to global climate change, and yet the technology to reduce their output of carbon dioxide already exists (2). The only thing that prevents this new technology from being utilized is political will. A process called carbon capture and storage (CCS) would substantially reduce the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants, but few power plants utilize this technology (2). Write to your leaders and tell them you demand tighter regulations for coal-burning power plants.

3) Support renewable energy
Renewable energy sources, unlike fossil fuels, will never run out. This is because renewable forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, all come from forces of nature which never stop. Renewable energy also has the benefit of being much cleaner than energy obtained from coal, gasoline, and natural gas (3). Sign up for clean energy if it is available where you live. If it is not available, call your local utility provider and ask them why clean energy is not available in your area.

4) Replace regular light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs consume 60% less energy than conventional incandescent light bulbs (4). If every household in the U.S. changed to fluorescent light bulbs, we could prevent more than 90 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere (4). That would be equivalent to taking 10 million cars off the road (5).

5) Save energy and money at home
Small changes around your home can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and also save you money on your monthly energy bill. For instance, almost half of the electricity we use goes to heating and cooling our homes (4). By raising your thermostat just a few degrees in the summer, and lowering it a few degrees in the winter, you will be saving money and the environment (4). Even something as simple as replacing the dirty air filter on your furnace can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year (4).

6) Use less water
It takes energy to heat water. By using less water, you are also using less energy. Installing a low flow shower head and washing your clothes in cold water can save 850 pounds of carbon dioxide a year (4). Turning your hot water heater down to 120 degrees can save you even more money on your energy bill and reduce your energy consumption further (4).

7) Purchase energy-efficient household appliances
Replacing old appliances with energy efficient models can save electricity and cut down on greenhouse gases. When shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star label. This insures that your appliances will be energy-efficient. You can also browse for new appliances at www.energystar.gov to find the latest in energy-efficient technology.

8) Plant a tree
In its lifetime, a single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide (4). The shade provided by trees can also reduce your cooling bills in the summertime by as much as 15% (4). As part of the photosynthesis process, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. If we don’t replace the trees lost to deforestation, carbon dioxide levels will continue to rise.

9) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
By recycling old newspapers, plastic containers, and aluminum soda cans, you prevent carbon emissions (5). It takes energy to extract and process the raw materials used to manufacture plastic and metal containers, and producing paper goods requires logging. If you want to do more, be sure to purchase products made from recycled materials. This completes the "cycle" in recycle.

10) Get more people involved
Global warming isn’t being caused by a small group of people. We’re all contributing to global warming in our daily lives. When compared to the immensity of global warming, these tips may seem like small measures, but they become powerful when we all do our part. Tell five friends about how you are helping reduce the effects of global warming in your home. Write a letter to your local newspaper that encourages residents in your area to take up the cause of global warming.

(1) http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/vehicle_impacts/cars_pickups_and_s uvs/cars-and-trucks-and-global.html (2) http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/technology_and_impacts/energy_techno logies/coal-power-in-a-warming-world.html (3) http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_basics.html (4) http://www.climatecrisis.net/help-at-home.php (5) http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html

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