Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking the walk

Greetings Peaksters

      Well, given the lack of leadership by governments  we thrown back to individual action.   Below Greer rants, Saniford and Tranistioners strives.  And the country becomes less and less persuaded that individual effort will make a difference.


Greer :

"....dear reader, as you surf the peak oil and climate change blogosphere and read the various opinions on display there, I’d encourage you to ask yourself what those opinions amount to in actual practice.  A remarkably large fraction of them, straight across the political landscape from furthest left to furthest right and including all stops in between, add up to demands that somebody else, somewhere else, do something. Since the people making such demands rarely do anything to pressure, or even to encourage, those other people elsewhere to do whatever it is they’re supposed to do, it’s not exactly hard to do the math and recognize that here again, these opinions amount to so many ways of insisting that the people holding them don’t have to give up the extravagant and unsustainable lifestyles most people in the industrial world think of as normal and justifiable. 


Carbon Neutral Household Operations in 2012

In my personal quest for my family to be carbon neutral, 2012 was a significant step forward.  In 2011, we reached the point where our house itself did not require any fossil fuels to operate (by using wood heat and commercial renewable power).  In 2012, we undertook an energy audit and resulting house efficiency work to make a major reduction in the amount of electricity we use (thanks to Snug Planet). I'll quantify this when the heating season is over but we are now pretty much using no electricity for heat, relying entirely on wood for that.  Electricity usage for appliances and hot water should also have been reduced substantially.

Also, having found a carbon offset provider I like (Finger Lakes Climate Fund), I was able to offset all our personal air travel, car usage, and landscaping machinery fuel usage, resulting in overall carbon-neutral household operations in 2012 - for the first time ever.

Does this mean we are environmental saints with nothing left to do?  Absolutely not, nothing could be further from the truth.  My major goal in 2013 is to get a solar installation, which should mean we will generate most or all of our electricity on site.  Beyond that, I'd like to move to electric and/or plugin-hybrid cars to reduce our reliance on offsets.  The house could be made far more efficient still if we did a deep-energy retrofit when we replace the siding, and if we replaced the windows with more efficient (eg non-Victorian) ones.  All these are steps we can take entirely on our own in the next few years.

Looking to less easy fixes over the longer term: we buy many goods and services from suppliers who are not themselves carbon-neutral.  As carbon neutral alternatives become available, I would very much like to select those where practical.  Also, I work for a mainstream company who presently have no concern for their carbon footprint (eg, they won't reimburse carbon offsets for my work-related travel - I asked).  That too is something I'd like to improve on in the long term.

Still, it feels good to have gotten as far as we have.


Or how about  this?  The energy descent is cool!

Keeping warm in low temperatures = inside the house


Fewer Americans Say Their Actions Can Slow Climate Change


Americans may be buying more compact fluorescent light bulbs these days, but they are less likely to set their thermostats low during the winter than they were four years ago and have less confidence that their actions will help to curb global warming, according to a new survey.
Yale Project on Climate Change Communication
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication found that the proportion of people who say their own energy-saving actions can make a difference in arresting global warming dropped to 32 percent in the latest survey, conducted in September, from 37 percent six months earlier.
The survey, published this week, also suggests that doubt is growing that even widespread concerted action can make a difference when it comes to climate change.
Sixty percent said energy-saving habits could help curb climate change if they were adopted by most Americans, down from 78 percent in 2008; those who say they believe that warming can be slowed by changes in personal habits across the industrialized world dropped to 70 percent from 85 percent over the same period.
The proportion saying they keep their thermostats at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower during the winter, rose to 53 percent from 43 percent six months earlier but was down from 62 percent in 2008.
Only 15 percent of respondents say they have volunteered or donated money over the last 12 months to help reduce climate change, while fewer are avoiding buying products made by companies that oppose efforts to curb global warming, according to the survey, for which 1,061 adults across the nation were interviewed between Aug. 31 and Sept. 12.
Still, the authors contend that that the results show that Americans are taking action on global warming.
“Many Americans are no longer content to just talk about global warming, they are doing something about it,” said Anthony Lesierowitz, a principal investigator for the project. “Many are acting individually to save energy at home and on the road and are making consumer choices that support business action on climate change.”
There have been noticeable increases in the number of people who say they walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation than in the previous survey, conducted in March.
Twenty-five percent said they “always or often” walk or ride their bikes instead of driving, more than double the 11 percent registered in the previous survey. The number of respondents saying that they carpool or take public transit rose to 17 percent from 10 percent.
More than a quarter, 27 percent, said they planned to walk or bike more often over the next year. But that was heavily outweighed by the 63 percent of respondents who said they don’t expect to change their transportation habits.
People’s acceptance of compact fluorescent lighting in their homes is growing, the survey found. Fifty-seven percent said that “all or most” of their bulbs were C.F.L.’s, up from 53 percent in March, while only 9 percent said they had none of the energy-saving bulbs in their home, little changed over the last year.
Around a third of respondents said they have bought products made by green-minded companies in the last year, while 24 percent have not bought the products of companies perceived as being opposed to efforts to combat global warming.
But light bulb purchases apparently don’t correlate to political action. Although 70 percent believe global warming is under way, only 15 percent of respondents have donated money or volunteered to address the issue over the last year, and just 12 percent have contacted a government official on the subject, the survey found. Both of those measures showed little change over the last year.
And the number of people who say they talk about global warming with their family and friends – 29 percent – is heavily outweighed by the 71 percent who “rarely or never” do so.


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