What Do We Do Now?
The earth is getting warmer.
The world’s scientists agree on it.
What does it mean?
What can we do?
When do we start?
The majority of scientists worldwide agree that the earth is warming up and that human activities are making it worse. The United Nations recently released a report by a group of the world’s leading scientists and it paints a bleak picture of global warming. It states that we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and that mankind must do something about it immediately or face certain disaster. It’s very simple. You either trust the scientists or you don’t. Candlelight Stories trusts the scientists. They have done the research and studied the evidence. Their data looks at a time period covering thousands of years and leads them to the conclusion that mankind is polluting the atmosphere so badly that the earth’s temperature is rising quickly.
The Earth Is Getting Warmer
So it’s getting warmer. So what? Why is that bad? Top scientists estimate that the earth’s temperature will increase between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius in this century due to human activities like burning fossil fuels, putting millions at risk from rising sea levels, floods, famines and storms. Farmlands can become wastelands. Deserts can get hotter and spread so people get thirstier. They also get hungrier because it’s hard to grow things in a desert. Icebergs melt. That makes sea levels rise. That in turn makes low-lying areas near coasts get flooded. That’s bad for people who live in those places. Weather patterns change and become more extreme, making worse hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts. Animal species die out because their habitats become inhospitable. Back to the thirsty hungry people — when large groups of people get desperate for food and water they do three things. They move, they fight, and they die. A world with little food, lots of flooding, lots of drought, and bad weather is a world with lots of people on the move, fighting and dying.
The World’s Scientists Agree On It
We should say the majority of the world’s scientists agree on it. They really do. Who are these scientists? Can we trust what they say? Well, some of them are at the World Meteorological Association, and some others are on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Others are at the American Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here’s some information on the scientific opinion on global warming. As for trusting them — should we? The scientists say that the data shows that by burning fossil fuels in our vehicles and our factories we are putting billions of tons of carbon dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere. They say this traps heat on the earth and causes global warming. Could this be true? Well here are some nice charts of data they’ve come up with.
Global mean surface temperatures from 1850 to 2006
Does that look like it’s going down or up to you?
This chart goes back beyond 400,000 years ago. Look at the part where
the Industrial Revolution begins. Suddenly it jumps way up. That’s us.
That’s our cars, trucks, factories, and power plants making that spike happen.
Carbon Dioxide and Temperature Records
Here’s another important chart. It covers 650,000 years of data.
See that red arrow at the top for our present time? Doesn’t it seem
odd that it’s twice as high as the entire 650,000 years before it?
What Does It Mean?
Global warming means that the heat from the sun comes into the earth’s atmosphere and gets absorbed by the earth itself. Some heat radiates back off the earth, but some gets trapped by the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This trapped heat keeps getting absorbed by land and oceans until the whole planet gets hotter. The more carbon dioxide we put into the air from our cars, factories, power plants and agricultural activities, the more heat gets trapped here on the earth.
Here’s a Diagram
So, basically, we get a bunch of heat from the sun and we hold onto way too much of it after it hits us because we’ve got all this junk up in our air floating around there and making it very difficult for the heat to get out.
If we could just get rid of that junk up there, more of the heat would simply rise up and radiate out into space and leave us the heck alone so we can be cool.
Here is an excellent movie on DVD about global warming. It’s called An Inconvenient Truth. It explains the problem very clearly and is a fascinating film.
What Can We Do?
Here’s some stuff you can do. Parts of this list come from StopGlobalWarming.org.
Green = Best Things You Can Do
Blue = Easiest Things You Can Do
Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: Replace 3 frequently used light bulbs in your house with compact fluorescent bulbs. These lights use one-fourth the energy of regular lights. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, Costco, etc. Save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 per year.
Buy a Hybrid Car: The average driver could save 16,000 lbs. of CO2 and $3,750 per year driving a hybrid. These cars are the future. They are powerful, fast and extremely fuel-efficient. The Toyota Prius is generally considered to be the best.
Buy a Fuel Efficient Car: Getting a few extra miles per gallon makes a big difference. Save thousands of lbs. of CO2 and a lot of money per year. If you want an SUV, forget it. Think of it this way: the bigger your car, the worse it is for your air.
Inflate Your Tires: Keep the tires on your car adequately inflated. Check them monthly. Save 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $840 per year.
Change Your Air Filter: Check your car’s air filter monthly. Save 800 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $130 per year.
Fill the Dishwasher: Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year.
Use Recycled Paper: Make sure your printer paper is 100% post consumer recycled paper. Save 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper.
Adjust Your Thermostat: Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer. Save 2000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $98 per year.
Check Your Water Heater: Keep your water heater thermostat no higher than 120EF. Save 550 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $30 per year.
Change the AC Filter: Clean or replace dirty air conditioner filters as recommended. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150 per year.
Take Shorter Showers: Showers account for 2/3 of all water heating costs. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $99 per year. After all, you only need to be clean, not super-clean.
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead: Using less water in the shower means less energy to heat the water. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150.
Buy Products Locally: Buy locally and reduce the amount of energy required to drive your products to your store.
Buy Energy Certificates: Help spur the renewable energy market and cut global warming pollution by buying wind certificates and green tags.
Buy Minimally Packaged Goods: Less packaging could reduce your garbage by about 10%. Save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide and $1,000 per year. All that packaged food in the grocery store. Leave it. Buy the fresh stuff without all the boxes.
Carpool When You Can: Own a big vehicle? (remember our intelligence thing from above) Carpooling with friends and co-workers saves fuel. Save 790 lbs. of carbon dioxide and hundreds of dollars per year.
Reduce Garbage: Buy products with less packaging and recycle paper, plastic and glass. Save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year.
Plant a Tree: Trees suck up carbon dioxide and make clean air for us to breath. Save 2,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year. Many people who own houses chop trees down so they can have a better view or more sun for their pool. That is not very helpful behavior.
Insulate Your Water Heater: Keep your water heater insulated could save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year.
Replace Old Appliances: Inefficient appliances waste energy. Save hundreds of lbs. of carbon dioxide and hundreds of dollars per year.
Weatherize Your Home: Caulk and weather strip your doorways and windows. Save 1,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $274 per year.
Use a Push Mower: Use your muscles instead of fossil fuels and get some exercise. Save 80 lbs of carbon dioxide per year.
Unplug Un-Used Electronics: Even when electronic devices are turned off, they use energy. Save over 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $256 per year.
Put on a Sweater: Instead of turning up the heat in your home, wear more clothes Save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $250 per year. Most homes are too hot in the winter. Turn it down.
Insulate Your Home: Make sure your walls and ceilings are insulated. Save 2,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $245 per year.
Air Dry Your Clothes: Line-dry your clothes in the spring and summer instead of using the dryer. Save 700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $75 per year.
Switch to a Tankless Water Heater: Your water will be heated as you use it rather than keeping a tank of hot water.
Switch to Double Pane Windows: Double pane windows keep more heat inside your home so you use less energy. Save 10,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $436 per year.
Buy Organic Food: The chemicals used in modern agriculture pollute the water supply and require energy to produce.
Bring Cloth Bags to the Market: Using your own cloth bag instead of plastic or paper bags reduces waste and requires no additional energy.
Use the Canvas/Vinyl Bags Sold at the Market: It’s environmentally friendly and it’s easier to get all the groceries into the house!
Don’t use your fireplace: Burning wood or fake logs puts a lot of carbon dioxide into the air.
This list is only the little stuff that we all need to do on our own right away. It does not include the really big stuff that will make a huge difference. Some of the big stuff looks like this:
Get rid of the internal combustion engine: Burning fossil fuels (gasoline, oil, etc.) in car and truck engines is just terrible for everyone and for the entire planet. These things will soon be illegal for very good reason. And think of this: there is some lucky kid out there right now probably who will figure out exactly how to do this and will make billions and billions of dollars. Do you want to be that lucky kid?
Stop burning coal to make electricity: This is a huge one. Most of our electricity comes into our houses because someone in a power plant a few miles away is burning coal to turn the big turbines that make the electricity. That coal makes lots of smoke and carbon dioxide that goes right up into our air.
Stop flying airplanes: Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But airplanes are really bad. They use jets that burn lots of fuel and make so much pollution you would never get on another one if you knew how much.
Stop clearing forests and jungles: Yes, people, we need the trees. Trees are good. Like if you see your neighbor cutting one of these things down, you are free to go yell at them because they deserve it. The Amazon rainforest is being cleared out at a frightening pace. Who knows what those people are thinking.
Develop a way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: Trees do it. Why can’t we? Someone will build a machine or a chemical or biological process that can remove billions of tons of carbon from our atmosphere. Think that’s a crazy idea? Well, billionaire Richard Branson set up a $25,000,000 prize for the first person or company that can build such a machine.
Stop electing world leaders who don’t understand global warming.
When Do We Start?
Now. You bet. Why wait?