What is the most critical, dangerous, life-threatening problem of our time? Carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Everything else — political discord, economic downturns, loss of freedoms — can be changed fairly quickly. But once those greenhouse gases become trapped in the atmosphere, they will be there for a long, long, long time. And they will contribute to the droughts, floods and other weather anomalies that cause me and you and our fellow humans so much misery.
But what can we do? Isn’t that someone else’s fault? Someone else’s responsibility?
Truth be told, if each of us took some action on this front, the cumulative effects would be astronomical.
And it must begin at home. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the energy used in buildings accounts for 39 percent of all greenhouse gases.
To cut down on energy use in our own homes, we can:
• Switch to efficient lighting
• Replace broken appliances with energy efficient models
• Switch to solar hot water heating
• Seal leaky ducts in the attic
• Seal leaks in old window assemblies
• Unplug electronics that are not being used
• Put in extra insulation when remodeling
And so on. Surprisingly, the energy upgrades that seem the most exciting — solar panels and new windows — give you the least bang for your buck.
In my own home, the things I do to cut down on energy use also cut down on that hopeless feeling. While it might be self-righteously pleasurable for a moment to blame everyone else for the world’s problems, it ultimately feels much better when my action is part of the solution. How about you?