Friday, December 18, 2009

Some good news, and some fun

Here's some good news and fun to counteract the rather disappointing news coming out of Copenhagen so far: last week, after years of inaction, the EPA finally determined that greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, endanger human health and welfare. The move is necessary to allow EPA regulation of global warming pollutants. At the same time, the EPA also proposed regulation of the largest sources of carbon emissions. EPA's actions should prod Congress to pass laws that cap greenhouse gases. A climate change bill has passed the House of Representatives, but a similar bill has languished in the Senate while health-care reform is debated. So, before you go full swing into Christmas, solstice, or Kwanzaa (or right after Hanukkah's over), please thank the EPA for these actions by clicking here. Please change the message so that it says what you want it to. And email your members of Congress to let them know you still support strong climate action despite all the tactics of the global warming deniers and those who are fighting to preserve the status quo. There is an excellent sample letter here, which can be sent to your Senators and representatives with the click of a mouse, that states clearly why the fuss over the stolen climate emails doesn't change the facts of global warming or their seriousness. Again, please change to suit your needs.

If you have a slightly sick sense of humor like I do (and don't object to violence to out-of-season vegetables), check out this funny video from Green Thing.

The New Mexican says they're deciding when to print my piece, so look for it this Sunday or the next and I'll link to it when it's published.

Resolve to do all you can to fight climate change in 2010. In the meantime, take the above actions, then relax and enjoy the rest of your holidays. I'll post again in the new year.
Stay cool,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't be fooled by deniers

Not one, but two opinion pieces in the Santa Fe New Mexican last Sunday are full of falsehoods and misleading statements about climate change. I will address these fully in response to the New Mexican, which I'll either excerpt or provide a link to on this blog, but in the meantime you can find facts and links to more information to counter most of the spurious claims in the New Mexican pieces in this piece by Scientific American. Remember, 97% of US climate scientists, the scientists who actually study this subject, agree that global warming is real and that it's caused by humans. Our National Academy of Sciences under George W. Bush, along with the academies of science of 10 other nations, agreed that the evidence for climate change and humans' role in it was strong enough to warrant fast action by governments. Update: The US National Academy of Sciences, along with the Academies of Science of 12 other industrialized and emerging nations, signed a statement in June 2009 including the following quotes: "Climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated,""The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable," and "Limiting global warming to 2°C would require a very rapid worldwide implementation of all currently available low carbon technologies. The G8+5 should lead the transition to an energy efficient and low carbon world economy." When we are faced with such great consequences and quite substantial evidence, do you think we should wait until the consequences are so dire that they can't be denied? The people who live on various islands and in the polar reaches, not to mention many species of plants and animals, are already facing dire consequences. By the time the consequences are in the faces of the rest of us, because the ocean and the natural world absorbs CO2 and heat and delays these consequences, scientists tell us it will probably be too late to avoid a world far different from the one that civilization evolved in. Do we really want to let a minority of vocal deniers, some of whom have been paid by oil companies to delay government action, confuse us into losing our chance to save ourselves and thousands of other species? Would you rather prepare for a catastrophe that might not happen, or not prepare for a catastrophe that is actually already happening, but not yet to most of us?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Should You Buy Carbon Offsets?

After encouraging you to offset your Thanksgiving travel by using one of the offset programs at the bottom of the homepage, I did more research. Carbon offsets, which are shares of projects you can buy that cancel out your greenhouse gas emissions for various activities, are controversial. Responsible Travel, one of the first travel companies to give travelers the option of buying offsets, canceled their program in October because they believe that offsets do more to soothe consciences than reduce CO2 output. We do need to ask ourselves whether we're buying offsets to assuage a guilty conscience, or whether we're using them when we've reduced our carbon footprint as much as we can. If you just have to take a flight, buying an offset will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions if the offset is real. Here's where things get dicey. Michael Wara, a professor at Stanford Law School and former climate scientist, says "we don't know" how many offset projects really reduce CO2 emissions. The hardest part is knowing whether a project would have been done without offsets helping to pay for it. My take is that it's very unlikely that all offset programs would have been done without offset money, so you are paying for some greenhouse gas reduction. Since it's an imperfect mechanism, it's not a great conscience-soother, so don't use it for that. With these cautions in mind, I've changed the links at the bottom of this page to only include carbon offset programs that serve individuals and are retailers for the Climate Action Reserve, which has strict requirements that projects are real, permanent, and additional, and includes independent verification. I encourage you to reduce your carbon footprint as much as you can (see the list of "10 Things" below), look at these sites, and then offset your holiday travel and other activities as much as you see fit. Going through the process will also make each of us more aware of how much greenhouse gas our different activities produce. Please share any thoughts, facts, or questions you have about offsets, and
Stay cool,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tell Senate to Pass a Strong Climate Bill

As you may know, the US House of Representatives passed a climate bill in June, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). We've been nagging our Senators meanwhile to do likewise, and it's time to nag them again. Click here to find your Senator and call, write, or email urging them to pass the strongest climate legislation possible. Until both houses pass a bill and the President signs it, there can be little progress on an international treaty, which is why world leaders delayed expectations this week for a strong new treaty to reduce global warming to come out of the Copenhagen talks. Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer introduced a climate bill on Sept. 30 that we should support. It needs strengthening, as lucidly outlined by Margie Alt of the Huffington Post blog site. Alt points out that we could achieve a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 just by investing in energy efficiency, which costs less than we're spending on energy now! We need to do more than this, and there are lots of options other than turning to nuclear energy, which is very expensive and creates waste that's radioactive for tens of thousands of years. Nuclear energy and offshore oil drilling are both being discussed in the Senate. Drilling for oil and burning coal cause global warming, they don't solve it, although sequestering CO2 from fossil fuels is an interim solution. Call or write your Senators now to urge them to pass the strongest climate legislation possible without relying on nuclear or coal. If you're traveling for Thanksgiving, have safe travels and offset your travel with the programs at the very bottom of this page! I'll post again in 2 weeks.
Stay cool,

This Isn't About Climate, But It's Unbelievable

I have to take a moment to post this unbelievable bit of info that I found buried in a UNICEF report. They sent me a nice email about buying stuff for the holidays to support their programs (which is a fine idea, along with giving them money) and about tracking progress on child nutrition. I was intrigued by the statement that "80 percent of all chronically undernourished children are found in just 24 countries." After following a link, I came to this report on Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition. On page 15, there's a world map that has a red circle on each country. The size of the red circle is proportional to the number of children in that country who are moderately to severely stunted because of hunger (they call it undernutrition now). But look--there's a pretty good-sized red circle on the U.S.! Now go to page 104. There's the top 24 countries in terms of numbers of stunted children. And look! The US is number 42 with not 714 children as I thought at first, but 714,000 children WHO ARE STUNTED BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT. This is 3% of all children under 5 in one of the richest countries in the world who are "below two standard deviations from median height for age of the WHO Child Growth Standards." We are doing only 2 percentage points better than Iran, the same as Ukraine, and worse than Chile and Croatia! TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Here's two cool ideas! Go to the appealing little site called and sign their petition for a climate treaty that is "definitive, equitable, and effective," and will set binding targets to cut greenhouse gases by 2020. The petition will be presented to world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference Dec. 7-18. When you sign, you can write what gives you hope. If you put down your city, your comment will be put on a map. You can click anyplace on the map to see what gives someone from that place hope. Pretty cool!

Now that it's finally getting cooler, make sure your water heater is well insulated. That can save you money and save 1,000 pounds of CO2 a year! If your water heater is warm to the touch, it could use more insulation. You can get a pre-cut insulating jacket for your heater for $10-$20 and put it on yourself. If your heater is gas-fired, you need to pay a professional or follow directions carefully. Here's a site with more information.

Good luck, and write us!
Stay cool,

Friday, November 6, 2009

We can't be the problem, right? Wrong.

One final myth to discuss in this series (I'm always happy to address others at your request): Human CO2 emissions are tiny compared with natural sources, so they can't be important.

Fact: While it's true that natural sources give off much more CO2 than humans, plants and the oceans are currently absorbing even more CO2 than they give off. Click here for more on this. It's humans' use of fossil fuels that have thrown CO2 levels off balance, since fossil fuels have been buried for hundreds of millions of years and their carbon has been out of circulation. Right now, nature is saving us from more extreme climate change than we're currently experiencing, because the oceans and plants are absorbing excess CO2. However, we're still emitting CO2 faster than natural sources can absorb it, increasing the greenhouse effect and causing climate change.

I know there are people reading this blog! (Don't worry, I don't know who you are unless you've told me, and I certainly won't share your personal info.) But all of us reading would love to hear from you--your questions, your thoughts, your ideas about climate change and what we can do about it. Thanks so much for all your support!
Stay cool,

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Great Day, and More Work To Do

Thanks to all those who participated in the planet's most widespread day of political action ever- with over 5,200 events in 181 countries! There was scant to no mainstream media coverage of Santa Fe's action involving 350 people, but there was a huge amount of coverage worldwide, including front-page stories in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune and top stories on Google News and CNN World online. Thanks to Barbara Wold for coverage on her blog Democracy for New Mexico. Organizers posted photos to from Papua New Guinea to New Jersey, Botswana to Brooklyn, Antarctica to China. Go see them--they're amazing and inspiring! And if you haven't contacted your Senators to demand the strongest climate legislation they can deliver, click here to do that. See my Aug. 28 post for more info.

Now, back to refuting myths, which I started in my Oct. 16 post. Myth #2: CO2 is not a major cause of climate change. Ads on TV and sites on the Internet proclaim this myth. But that's just what it is, a myth.

Fact: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (an international group of climate scientists established by the UN Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization), "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas, according to the IPCC and many other sources. If you're worried about the phrase "very likely," realize that the IPCC has a reputation for being conservative, because it can only report what all its many scientist from all over the world agree on.

Fact: The US National Academy of Sciences along with 10 other national science academies proclaimed in 2005 that the evidence for human-caused global warming is strong enough for governments to take rapid action.

Fact: 97% of US climate scientists surveyed agree that human activity has been a significant factor in rising average global temperatures.
Send us your thoughts and
Stay cool,

Friday, October 23, 2009

International Day of Climate Action October 24

"As far as we can tell, you'll be part of the single most widespread day of political action about any issue that our planet has ever seen," if you join the nearest action. So says Bill McKibben, the influential environmentalist and writer who started the 350 campaign, and with good reason. The International Day of Climate Action and broadcast the message that we have to limit CO2 (carbon dioxide) to 350 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere in order to maintain the planet close to the way it's been as civilization has evolved. This is a stiff challenge, as CO2 levels are currently at 390 ppm. However, there will be over 4,000 events in over 175 countries October 24 to bring the message to world leaders that we want a strong new treaty to limit climate change when they gather in Copenhagen in December. Click on this link and scroll down to see some great photos of the actions that are already happening around the world: Also follow that link to join an action in your community.

In Santa Fe, meet at the Center for Contemporary Art, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, at 1 p.m. (noon if you want to volunteer) for a human 350 postcard photo, march to the Roundhouse and rally. Bring signs that say 350, ride your bike or the bus as far as you can, and wear green or blue. Click here for more info. See you there!

I'll continue countering myths next week.

Stay cool,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Global Warming Myths and Facts

Due to the persistent publicizing of myths and misleading statements about climate change, whether or not humans are the cause, and whether we can do something about it (including those annoying and reckless ads proclaiming CO2 is Green), and due to the fact that I presented this information at church last Sunday, I'll be posting some common myths about global warming and the facts that refute them. Remember the international Day of Action on climate change Saturday, Oct. 24! Here in Santa Fe, it starts at 1 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Santa Fe Trail. See last week's post for more info. Hope to see you there!

1. Myth: The Earth isn't really warming. This myth has been bolstered by a controversy over how much temperatures have been increasing or whether they have possibly been cooling over the last several years to a decade. In any case, it requires at least a 30-year period to determine a climate pattern, as opposed to a weather pattern. Also watch out for myths based on local trends. Conclusions about global warming are based on worldwide and hemisphere-wide data.

Fact: "According to all major temperature reconstructions published in peer-reviewed journals, the increase in temperature in the 20th century and the temperature in the late 20th century is the highest in the record." (Wikipedia; also see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, RealClimate and many others). The actual temperature record goes back to 1850. Since then, scientists have measured tree rings, ice layers, coral reefs, and other data from all over the world and calibrated it to these temperatures. They can then use older tree ring, ice, and other data to tell what temperatures were in the past. Based on this data, global average temperatures are the highest they've been in at least 1,000 years.

I'll continue this series next week. Until then, post your thoughts in Comments and
Stay cool,

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 24th World Climate Action Day

On October 24, 2009, there will be actions all over the world to let leaders know that we want serious action on global warming! Click here to find an action in your area. In Santa Fe, people from nonprofits, schools, and with no affiliation are meeting at 1 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, for a human postcard photo, march to the Roundhouse and rally until 4 p.m. Ride your bike or take the bus as far as you can to get there (I plan to do both)! Global leaders are meeting in Copenhagen in December to write a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto agreement. Recent talks leading up to this meeting ended without much agreement, so our voices are needed to show leaders how important this is. The US, although the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases overall and per capita, does not participate in the Kyoto treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which 192 countries have signed, so we in the US especially need to make our voices heard.

I'll be participating in an adult education forum on global warming and reducing our carbon footprint at the United Church of Santa Fe with two other members of the church at 9:45 a.m. this Sunday, October 11. Come if you can, send me your comments, and
Stay cool,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Good news! While the country's been preoccupied with health care debate (a very important topic), the Senate has still been working on ACES (the American Clean Energy and Security Act), the global warming reduction bill that passed the House earlier this year. A draft of the bill the Senate is working on calls for deeper reductions than the House version--20% by 2020. This is just a draft, however, and the Senate is already subject to strong lobbying by the fossil fuel industry and others to weaken the bill. Please, if you haven't already, contact your Senators and urge them to enact the strongest possible bill that includes a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions. Cap-and-trade has proven successful in Europe, despite coverage in the US to the contrary. See my August 28 post for more information on this bill. Contact your Senators here. Tell them what you're doing to reduce global warming, and that you expect the government to do its part, too.

I ride the bus twice a week and ride my bike home from work those days to reduce global warming and to get exercise. It was hard to get started, but it's been fun to actually do! Today I got a ride to the Chavez Center from Hank, rode my bike to the coffee shop to do this, and am taking the bus & bike home. It's fun to get out in the community rather than spending time alone in the car or at home. Also, my internet is down (equipment failure)! We should have it up again within a couple of days, so send me your thoughts and
Stay cool,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Solar Fiesta This Weekend, Go Green Action Tips

This weekend, Sept. 26-27, 2009, the NM Solar Energy Association holds their Solar Fiesta! 10 am-5 pm each day at Highland High School in Albuquerque, you can learn everything about solar energy, from how to cook in a solar oven to how to have a full-scale photovoltaic system installed on your house. A photovoltaic system will convert the sun's energy to electricity for you to use! Photovoltaic systems and solar heating and hot water systems also qualify you for significant state and federal tax credits. Free workshops at 9 each morning teach you how to make your home more comfortable and lower your energy bills while lowering your contribution to global warming. Find out more by clicking here.

The NM Environment Department hosts Go Green Action Tips, a series of audio clips covering a wide range of topics, including water pollution prevention, limiting your mercury exposure, and a Green Vehicle Guide. Did you know that you shouldn't dispose of fluorescent light bulbs in the trash? They can be brought to the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station for recycling seven days a week, 8 am to 5 p.m., free for Santa Fe County residents. Or save them for your local household hazardous waste collection day. Each bulb has a small amount of mercury in it, and this mercury is released to the environment if the bulbs are disposed of in the trash. The mercury from the large number of compact fluorescent light bulbs now in use could be a significant threat to the environment. However, the amount of mercury released from burning coal for electricity to power the same number of incandescent light bulbs would be six times as great, and the amount of electricity used would be four times as great, according to Progress Energy, a company that owns two electric utilities. Since 57% of our electricity comes from coal, the mercury savings from using fluorescent bulbs are clearly significant.
Send me your ideas and questions about reducing our carbon footprint, and
Stay cool,

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Age of Stupid

Just a quick note on a couple of upcoming events. The Age of Stupid, a combination documentary-drama told from the perspective of one of the survivors of the human race in 2055, will premiere this Monday, Sept. 21 in 440 theaters nationwide, including two in Albuquerque. Beamed live from a solar tent in New York, the event will feature a discussion with scientists, political figures, and celebrities as well as the movie. The next day, Sept. 22, 80 heads of state will meet in NY for a climate change summit to focus on the need to achieve an ambitious agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. Starring Pete Postlethwaite (The Constant Gardener, The Shipping News), "The Age of Stupid, directed by Franny Armstrong, will be taken by some as an emergency wake-up call to do everything possible to avert impending catastrophe," according to The New York Times movie review. See details and buy tickets here. If you'd like to see it in Albuquerque, comment here to set up a carpool.

On October 24, is inviting people around the planet to hold events publicizing the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million in order for conditions on the planet to be similar to those that have sustained civilization and life on Earth. These events will be a message to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December that there is widespread support for ambitious goals to reduce CO2 to levels that support the planet's ecosystems and civilizations. There are a couple of events registered in Santa Fe--can you join me in helping at least one of them get some attention for this critical problem? Or organize an event in your community! Send us your thoughts!
Stay cool,

Friday, September 4, 2009

I've got two interesting things to share with you today. One of them is actually kind of fun! It's a campaign called So Much To Save. Click here to take at least one of five easy actions to reduce your impact on the planet, and get a free download of the So Much to Save album featuring Dave Matthews Band! Action #4 specifically addresses climate change. When you click on "Review Companies," it lets you download a pocket guide that rates companies on how well they're reducing climate change compared to their competitors. You can carry it with you to help you decide what companies to support for everything from household cleaners to banking. The pocket guide is compiled by, a site you might want to check for more detailed info on what companies are doing about global warming.

You also might want to read an article from the online version of Der Spiegel, one of Europe's largest weekly news magazines. Click here to read Spiegel's interview of Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a world famous physicist, climate researcher, professor, and the German government's top adviser on climate. Schellnhuber says that even Germany's targets for CO2 reduction aren't enough, and tells how even greater reductions can be achieved. In response to the interviewer's question of whether he's an idealist, he says: "The WBGU is not political; we merely advise the government and present our studies and findings to the public. Our budget has nothing to do with utopias but rather with the physical conditions under which we can prevent our civilization from crumbling." It's interesting to read articles from Europe, where there's really not much debate on climate change, except how to reduce it. Remember, humanity has come through many challenges; let's keep each other informed and encouraged to take action to meet this one. Send me your thoughts and actions by commenting below, and

Stay cool,


Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't let them forget

Sorry about my 2-week hiatus! I thought I'd be able to post before my vacation, but no. We took the train as we have many times, and it's a great way to travel.

We need to remind our Congressional representatives and Senators that as important as health care is, they can't forget about the critical American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES for short). ACES, the first national bill that would curb global warming, passed the House on June 26, 2009. Now we need the Senate to pass it. (Obama will sign it if it passes.) The bill needs strengthening, but there's a lot of pressure on the Senate to weaken it further. Please, click here to find your Senators and either attend a town hall meeting or contact them directly to pass as strong a version of ACES as possible. Or, click here to send an email.

The fossil fuel industry is throwing a lot of money and influence into opposing this bill. The idea isn't to eliminate the use of fossil fuels anytime soon--we don't have enough alternatives developed yet. It's to develop incentives for reducing our output of greenhouse gases and develop alternative energy sources that would also provide jobs so that we can fight global warming, which threatens to make all our other problems seem insignificant. Serious effects are already being felt, and the consequences of business as usual would be dire for the human species as well as many others. Because of delays that are built into Earth's climate system, if we wait to act until the most serious consequences arrive, it will be too late to reverse them. We need to act now to prevent the worst consequences of global warming from happening. Let me know what you're doing to reduce global warming!
Stay cool,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Is "Cash for Clunkers" Good for the Environment?

There's been a lot of publicity about the cash for clunkers program - the government program that pays you to trade in an older vehicle getting less than 18 mpg for a new one that gets at least 22 mpg. But does the program really reduce global warming? The answer is: a very small amount. The problem isn't that the concept is bad, it just doesn't go far enough. But it still makes sense for most individuals to get rid of an old gas-guzzling clunker for a vehicle that getssignificantly more miles to the gallon.

Making a new car produces greenhouse gases, of course. If you trade in a clunker getting 18 mpg for a new car getting 22 mpg, it would take about 5 1/2 years of average driving to save the amount of greenhouse gases that went into manufacturing the new car, according to the dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, William Chameides, quoted on NPR here. After that, you would be reducing your carbon footprint. With trucks, it might take eight or nine years, Chameides says (trucks usually have more material in them and more greenhouse gases are produced in their manufacture). With the median age of cars on the road in the US older than ever at 9.4 years, and some of the new cars purchased getting more than 22 mpg, the net result is positive. However, the Associated Press calculated that the greenhouse gas savings from this year's cash to clunkers program would reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by only a few hundredths of a percent, assuming 500,000 to 750,000 of the 260 million vehicles on the road in the US are traded in.

If you traded in a 20-mpg car for a 50 mpg hybrid, however, you'd make up for the greenhouse gases produced in manufacture in 20 months, according to Gil Friend of ClimateBiz. The greater the difference between the fuel economy of the old car and the fuel economy of the new car, the greater the savings in greenhouse gases. The longer you keep your new car the better for the environment, until there are newer cars whose efficiency is so great that it makes sense to trade in again. The savings with cash to clunkers is not as great as it could be - the original legislation required new cars purchased to meet stricter mileage standards to qualify - but it's a small step in the right direction. And it definitely makes sense for individuals to junk gas guzzlers and buy the most efficient vehicle they can, with or without a government program.
What's in your garage?
Stay cool,

Friday, July 31, 2009

Air Conditioning or Windows Down?

A debate rages about (who would guess?) which uses less gas: rolling down your car windows or turning on your air conditioning. However, all 3 tests I could track to their sources showed that running the air conditioner almost always uses more gas than rolling the windows down. For example, Car and Driver did a test on a sedan (they don't say what model, but the photos are of a small sedan) in which running the a/c reduced fuel efficiency by 15% at 35 mph, whereas opening the windows decreased it by only 1.5%. At 75 mph, running the a/c decreased miles per gallon by 6.8% vs. 2% for windows, and results at 55 mph were in between (losses for a/c decrease at higher speeds because the engine is producing more power.)

Consumer Reports findings for a Camry were less dramatic: using a/c at 65 mph decreased the car's fuel efficiency by 1%, whereas rolling windows down at that speed had no measurable effect on fuel economy. A third study by the Society of Automotive Engineers shows that while the results are closer for a sedan, both the sedan and the SUV used more gas with the a/c on than with windows down at speeds of 30, 50, and 68 mph when the temperature was 86F. Bottom line: minimize your use of air conditioning, especially when you're tooling around town. Keep in mind, too, when you ride the bus or train, you can enjoy A/C guilt-free, and bicycling creates its own cooling!

Comment with your thoughts, and stay cool!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Simple Ways to Keep Cool

Here's a few basic things to do to keep cool, reduce your carbon output, and cut down on cooling costs this summer:
  • Open windows when it's cooler outside than inside.
  • Even more important: Shut windows when it's hotter outside than inside. I haven't seen this advice elsewhere, but it can keep your house substantially cooler. Once the temperature outside goes above the indoor temperature, open windows heat your house. Try closing them-it may surprise you how much cooler it stays.
Here's some more tips, courtesy of I've been doing some of these for years, and some of them were new to me:
  • Close drapes and shades when sun is shining in, especially on east and west sides of house. Open them when it's cooler outside than in. (It helps if you're a bit obsessive, like me.)
  • Use ceiling and portable fans rather than air conditioning as much as possible. The breeze can make you feel just as comfortable as lowering the temperature 6 degrees.
  • Plant shade trees to block the sun.
If you must use air conditioning, follow these tips:
  • In dry climates (like Santa Fe), use an evaporative (swamp) cooler rather than a conventional refrigerated air conditioner. Conventional A/C uses 4 times the electricity a swamp cooler uses, according to energy company PNM. Swamp coolers only work in fairly dry climates, though.
  • Keep the thermostat as high as possible, 78 F or above. Each degree you raise it saves 2% on your cooling bill. Your house won't cool down any faster by lowering the setting.
  • Minimize opening and shutting doors, which lets heat in.
  • If it's humid, use a dehumidifier. You'll be comfortable at much higher temperatures.
  • Install room air conditioners where they'll be shaded-- they'll work much better. Seal any gaps on the sides with foam insulation.
  • Close off vents in unoccupied rooms. You'll save 5-10% on your energy bill. Close doors to those rooms if possible.
Comment with your ideas, and stay cool!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reduce Your Vacation Footprint

Since it's vacation time, here's a comparison of different modes of travel and their carbon footprints by, a non-profit think tank. SUV's with a solo driver produce the most CO2 per passenger per mile, followed by regular cars, airplanes, hybrid cars, cars with 3 riders, buses, and then trains, which produce the least CO2 per passenger mile except for walking or biking.

There's a lot of variability in the amount of fuel airplanes use, so use the World Wildlife Fund Travel Helper to decide what's the best way to get to your particular destination (even though it says Europe, it works for US destinations too). Then you can use a site like the Terrapass Calculator or Travelocity's Go Zero program to make a donation to a program that's reducing emissions. That way, you'll offset the emissions you produce with your travel. You can get to Terrapass and Go Zero at the very bottom of Carbonless Copy's home page. is another site that sells offsets.

Of course, a lot of people are staying home this summer, and that's the most carbon-conserving of all! Let me know how you're reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, and
Stay cool,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tell Senate to Join House in Passing Climate Change Bill

On June 26, the US House of Representatives passed the historic American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as Waxman-Markey (see my June 5 and April 10 posts). This is the first bill that a US Federal body has passed to curb greenhouse gases. In comparison, the European Union and its member governments have been committed to and achieving greenhouse gas reductions for about a decade. Let's celebrate the passage of this bill, though flawed, as a critical first step in achieving reductions in global warming!

Even more important, we need to urge the Senate to pass the bill, and we'll have to follow it through conference committee to ensure the strongest measure possible goes to President Obama, who strongly supports it. Click here to sign a petition on Al Gore's website to show Senate leaders you support the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Then post your thoughts and ideas for reducing our carbon footprint in a comment!

Stay cool,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Green Machines

I'm a bit wary of "buy green" campaigns. The best way to buy green is not to buy at all! Given that most of us buys things, though, here's a couple of resources to help decide which of the many examples of each product is the most environmentally-friendly.

Greener One rates products' environmental impacts using a formula created by a group of technology veterans. Contributors answer questions about each product's materials, manufacturing, use, and disposal. The formula uses these answers to calculate a Green Index for each product. As on Wikipedia, anyone can contribute to the site, and contributors monitor each other's entries. Greener One is up and running, but still being tested, so welcomes comments and contributors.

Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics rates the practices of the top 17 electronics companies in toxic chemicals, recycling, and climate change. The top 5 ranked companies from 1-5 are: Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Philips, and Sony.

An interesting single product to consider is Motorola's W233 Renew cell phone, carbon-neutral and made of 100% recycled plastic. Motorola uses offsets to neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions caused by its manufacture, distribution, and use. Maybe this was a reaction to their ranking as #8 on Greenpeace's list, or Nokia's 50%-recycled 3110.

What's your favorite green product?

Stay cool,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Forests: Big Carbon Sponges

Forests absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide and therefore reduce climate change. The Nature Conservancy has called destruction of forests "the largest overlooked contributor to climate change." Loss and degradation of forests causes 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A recent article in the LA Times describes how some forests in California are being managed to maximize their ability to absorb and store carbon. A foundation overseeing one of these, the 2,200 acre Van Eck forest, calculated the amount of extra carbon absorbed due to reduced logging there. The approximately 185,000 metric tons of extra carbon being sequestered in this way were sold to individuals and companies for $2 million to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Bank launched the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in December 2007 to provide incentives to countries with large tracts of forest to keep them standing. These countries now make more money from cutting them down. Industrialized countries, forest communities, the Nature Conservancy, and the private sector will join the partnership to find a way to properly value the carbon-sequestering abilities of forests. Otherwise, the money to be made from cutting down forests for biofuels and palm oil might outweigh the financial gain to poorer countries from keeping their forests, and these vast carbon-absorbing ecosystems, home to great biodiversity, might be further reduced, greatly contributing to climate change.
Send me your carbon-footprint-reducing ideas and news!
Stay cool,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Help pass historic global warming legislation!

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed Waxman-Markey, which I wrote about in my April 10 post, on May 21st. Waxman-Markey, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, proposes the first ever cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the US. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would reportedly like a vote on the bill in the full House before the July 4th recess. This means we all need to email our Congressional representatives now by clicking here, reading more about the bill, and then clicking on Send an Email to Congress under What You Can Do on the left side of the page. Of course, you can call or write your rep, too, but do it now.

The bill is controversial. Most environmental groups support it, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Alliance for Climate Protection, which was founded by Al Gore. Greenpeace does not support the bill, stating that it doesn't go far enough and gives too much away to industry. On the other hand, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association issued a statement calling the Waxman-Markey bill an "abject policy failure." The bill, imperfect as it is, faces a tough fight in Congress. I think it holds out the best hope we have for serious climate action this year. I also believe that the longer we wait, the stronger the opposition will grow. Please support this bill now! You can certainly ask for stronger provisions in your email. Go here to read Greenpeace's objections. And let us know what you think!
Stay cool,

Friday, May 29, 2009

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

When it's time to replace our tires, how many of us think about rolling resistance? Although the average car with low rolling resistance (LRR) tires would use 6% less gasoline (see this report by Green Seal) and produce 630 lbs. less greenhouse gases per year, tire makers are not required to label tires with their rolling resistance, according to The California Energy Commission will soon require tire manufacturers to make tire fuel efficiency information available to consumers, however.

Most new cars come with LRR tires, which help car manufacturers meet Federal fuel economy standards, but often original tire models are hard to find. Neither the local nor the national Honda office could (or would?) tell me what kind of tires our Civic hybrid had originally. Looking for replacement tires that would maximize gas mileage, I ran across the Green Seal report on LRR tires and was able to find some that a local shop could order. Keeping the tires pumped up makes a big difference, too. Our mileage varies by as much as 7 mpg depending on tire pressure.

By December '09, California expects to have minimum efficiency standards for tires sold in California. Let's ask our Congressional reps to require these standards nationwide! We could keep nearly 110 billion pounds (55 million tons) of carbon dioxide out of the air each year if every car and light truck in the US had LRR tires. Comment with your fuel efficiency and other carbon-cutting stories!
Stay cool,

Wikipedia has an article on LRR tires with links to more information. Check out the US Dept. of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's page on LRR tires.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stop Junk Mail

Here's an easy way to save yourself some hassle and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. Tonic MailStopper claims to stop up to 90% of your junk mail in 90 days. They work with over 6500 direct marketers to stop catalogs, credit card offers, and other mail you don't want. You'll save the energy and resources required to make and transport junk mail, as well as the time and energy you spend to recycle it or throw it out. This is a global warming action double whammy, since trees absorb carbon dioxide that causes global warming. Another site to look at is 41 Pounds, which claims to get rid of 80 to 95 percent of your junk mail for $41 for five years. You can also take the do-it-yourself approach for free by following the steps at or

I've just signed up for MailStopper. After you sign up, you enter organizations and catalog companies you no longer want to receive mail from in your online account. This allows you to receive mail from the ones you want, but requires work on your part. They also contact many direct marketers on your behalf to stop that mail directly. Some marketers require your signature to stop sending you mail, so MailStopper will send you postcards to sign and return. I'll let you know in 90 days if my mail has significantly decreased. Click here to check out MailStopper and sign up if you like.

Let me know how any of these or other carbon-footprint-reducing ideas work for you!
Stay cool,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tell EPA What You Think!

You may have heard that the EPA published proposed findings in April that increasing levels of greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare and that vehicle engines contribute to these greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This step enables the EPA and/or other agencies to join many other nations in regulating greenhouse gases and taking steps to rein in global warming. Greenhouse gas-producing industries will doubtless submit many negative comments on this finding, despite the fact that it is merely re-stating established facts (see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), so it's important that as many people as possible submit comments in support of these findings. To submit a comment, start by clicking here. Read the page and click on Instructions for Submitting Written Comments (PDF). Read the instructions, but instead of going to, click here, and under Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, click on Send a Comment or Submission. This will probably save you time and frustration finding the correct findings to comment on, especially if you've never used the site before. Note that they recommend you include your name and contact info, but if you do, they will be published along with the comments, so either make sure that's okay with you, or don't include your personal info. Real people read these comments, so say why this is important to you. I've included my comment in the next post below, in case it's helpful.

The weather around Santa Fe has turned warm, so I've been riding my bike home from work a couple of times a week. It's about 9 miles, but it's mostly downhill on the way home, so I take my bike on the bus in the morning and ride home in the evening. I've seen a lot more people biking in the last couple of weeks than I ever have before! Send me your ideas for reducing our carbon footprints, and
Stay cool,

My comments on EPA's Greenhouse Gas Findings

See my next entry, above, for how to submit your comment on EPA's proposed findings that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare and that vehicle engines contribute to greenhouse gases (I know, these things seem obvious, but this is an important step in the process). I post this in the hope that it's helpful to someone wishing to submit their own comment. Of course, use your own words.

My name is Bonney Hughes. I am representing myself and my family. I have an M.S. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University. I have a blog,, that explores issues related to greenhouse gases, global warming, and citizen action. You may contact me through this blog.

As I'm sure you know, the vast majority of climate scientists agree that current and projected concentrations of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations, and that human activity is increasing the concentrations of these gases. There is
now abundant evidence to support these two statements, summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; in The Hot Topic, by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King; and in Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, to name a few. Public health and welfare are and will be threatened by the effects of increases in greenhouse gases such as: increasing likelihood of stronger hurricanes; less snowfall and more variable rainfall resulting in more drought in some areas and more flooding in others (or a combination in some areas); more heat waves; rising sea levels; increasing rates of species extinction.

It is obvious that motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. Motor vehicle engines produce these gases, these gases are very long-lasting in the atmosphere, and there were 244 million motor vehicles registered in the US in 2006 ( Since these gases emanate from a huge array of sources, and action by a minority of individuals or companies will not only be ineffective, but put these individuals and companies at a disadvantage in many cases, it is vital that the EPA and other branches of the US government take action to reduce greenhouse gases and ensure that organizations and individuals do so as well.

I strongly support EPA's Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings because they are true and because they represent a first step in this vital direction. I urge EPA and other branches of the US government to take all effective steps to slow and reduce the production of greenhouse gases to reach the goal of 350 ppm CO2 equivalents with all possible speed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

We air what we eat

There are many reasons to eat locally grown foods: to support local agriculture, buy the freshest food, and reduce energy use and greenhouse gases associated with food transportation, among others. But two researchers have recently shown that the average American can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more by eating less red meat and dairy.

Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon did a comprehensive analysis of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by various aspects of food production and transport for the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Although food travels long distances, 83% of the greenhouse gases associated with food are emitted during its production. Each dollar spent on red meat and dairy products, because of the amount of grain and land required to produce them and the amount of methane cows produce, results in about 2 1/2 to 3 times more greenhouse gases than each dollar spent on chicken, fish, eggs, cereals, and other foods. Because of these facts, skipping dairy and/or meat one day a week would have the same impact as buying all your food locally. So in addition to buying as much locally-grown food as possible, reducing our red meat and dairy consumption can have a big effect on our carbon footprint. There are many variables in this equation, including whether your beef is grass-fed or grain-fed (grass-fed has less impact due to fossil fuel use in grain production) and whether you eat meat or dairy at all, but these values hold true in general for the US population (and almost surely for other nations as well). Whether or not you eat meat or dairy, reducing your consumption of produce that's traveled a long distance, which is usually true of out of season produce, can reduce carbon emissions significantly. For a good summary of the article, see The Daily Score blog here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Unplug Those Vampires!

Since I posted last week, I've read that McKinsey & Co, of which the McKinsey Global Research Institute is the economics research arm, has been involved in some controversial activities. McKinsey & Co is one of the leading management consulting firms worldwide. Enron was one of their biggest clients before its collapse. McKinsey recently recommended that the Minneapolis Public Schools cut teacher health care due to high costs. McKinsey is also credited with starting car insurance practices that result in more claims being denied so that shareholders get higher returns. However, the data in last week's post that was compiled by the McKinsey Global Research Institute is referred to extensively by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King, two respected climate scientists, in The Hot Topic, a well-researched book on global warming and its solutions, as well as by the global warming blog Climate Progress by expert climate scientist Joseph Romm. According to that data, which is of course based on certain assumptions and predictions, the actions that would result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, ranked in order of how much money they would save us, are:
  • Improvements in insulation
  • Improved fuel efficiency in commercial vehicles
  • More efficient lighting systems
  • More efficient air conditioning
  • More efficient water heating
  • Improved fuel efficiency in non-commercial vehicles
  • Use of sugarcane biofuel
  • Reducing standby losses (loss of energy from keeping a device on standby service without actually using it--such as a hot water tank, TV, VCR, charging device for electronics, etc.)
There are many other actions that would reduce global warming, but these are the major ones that would also save us money even in the short term, according to this report. Notice that many of the actions on the list--which apply to industries and homes--correspond to actions on our "10 things we can do to reduce global warming" list at the very bottom of this page. However, the last one, reducing standby losses, is not on the list, but should be. If everyone unplugged all their chargers and appliances when they're not being used, we could reduce global greenhouse emissions by 1%. That's because chargers and appliances in standby, like TVs, VCR's, and many others, known as "vampires," draw power even when they're not being used. That's a lot of global warming for energy that's being wasted.

What's in your carbon-footprint-reducing toolbox?
Stay cool,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reducing CO2 won't cost as much as many think

I found a great report through Climate Progress, the blog I talked about last week. The Carbon Productivity Challenge: Curbing climate change and sustaining economic growth, by the McKinsey Global Institute, gives us several bits of good news. First, a significant amount of CO2 equivalents can be cut by employing good old-fashioned ideas like insulation and improving the efficiency of lighting, heating, cooling, and vehicles, which would actually save money. These are some of the first measures we should put in place. Second, the cost to implement all steps needed to keep CO2 equivalents to a level that would avoid drastic consequences by 2030 would be only 0.6-1.4 percent of projected gross domestic product (GDP). This is similar to the cost estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and this form of insurance would cost less than what the world currently spends on insurance (not counting life insurance), which was 3.3 percent of GDP in 2005.

McKinsey's research also debunks some myths about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Contrary to the common notion that new technology must save us, 70% of reductions needed by 2030 don't depend on new technology. Read the summary here. At the bottom, there's a link to the full report.

Send me your ideas on what we can all do to reduce global warming, and stay cool!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Support a Good Bill

US Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey have introduced draft legislation that would be a good first step in reducing US greenhouse gas emissions. The bill introduces a cap-and-trade system and calls for greenhouse gases to be reduced 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 (Obama's plan would reduce them by 14%). Climate Progress, a useful global warming blog written by climate expert and American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow Joseph Romm, calls the bill "a very solid effort, a crucial move forward in preserving a livable climate and restoring US leadership in clean energy and green jobs, while keeping the overall impact to U.S. businesses and consumers very, very low." By 2050, both this law and Obama's plan would reduce emissions of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases by 80%. I urge you to go here to send a message to your representatives to support this bill and fight global warming in 2009.
Stay cool,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Be sure to celebrate Earth Hour tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, from 8:30-9:30 pm whatever your local time is. It's a symbolic and concrete action: turn out all unnecessary lights and electricity for an hour as part of a commitment to reduce global warming. Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million workplaces and homes turned off their lights for an hour. In 2008, 50 million people turned off their lights worldwide. This year, the goal is 1 billion people turning off their switches to send a message to world leaders at the global climate change conference in Copenhagen. Organizers have already exceeded their goal of 1,000 cities and towns participating. Of course, all the other actions you can take to reduce global warming are even more important, but this is a time when the whole world gets to act together (at staggered times) and send a message. (BTW, they've checked it out with power companies, and the event will have no ill effect on the power grid.) Watch this video with some inspiring footage of lights going off around the world. Then sign up at the official Earth Hour website. Happy Spring Break for those of you celebrating it this week or next! Remember to offset your carbon if you're traveling. Follow the links at the very bottom of this page to do that. Stay cool!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Today I came upon a website called WattzOn, which I found through a website called Carsharing.US, which is written by the guy who started the first carsharing company in the U.S., which was later swallowed up by Flexcar. I found Carsharing.US through a blog called Diamond-Cut Life, which I also recommend, and I found Diamond-Cut Life by Googling, believe it or not, global warming and fun. WattzOn offers a great tool for thoroughly examining your energy consumption, which is directly proportional to your carbon footprint, that is, the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced by you living your life the way you do. I took the test, and the WattzOn badge to the right tells you the result. You can click on it for more details, and do your own test at WattzOn. There's also a video to watch about individual energy consumption. My only complaint is that the site is a bit short on solutions. The intent is to create a community to share ideas, which is also my intent for this blog, but with a little more emphasis on solutions here. So send them in!

Stay cool,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pay As You Drive

Remember my post a few weeks ago on car insurance that costs less if you drive less? Turns out several companies are offering it around the nation. The Environmental Defense Fund offers a good overview here. The Brookings Institution reported that if all American drivers had pay-as-you-drive insurance, we'd drive 8 percent less, total US CO2 emissions would go down by 2% and oil consumption by 4%, and two-thirds of households would pay an average of $270 less per car for auto insurance. Here are the programs I found:
  • Owners of GM cars with OnStar can get discounts for driving less through insurer GMAC in 47 out of 50 states. Click here for info.
  • Progressive offers pay-as-you-drive discounts in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon.
  • Texas is the first state to offer insurance that's charged per mile you drive, allowing you to get the full benefit of driving less, through MileMeter. Go, neighbor!
  • In Massachusetts, the Environmental Insurance Agency offers a policy through Plymouth Rock that rewards you for driving less. EIA is owned by the Conservation Law Foundation, which has spent decades protecting the environment in New England.
  • The Federal Highway Administrations Value Pricing Program is launching a PAYD pilot program in Georgia.
Post your experiences with any PAYD program, or any other global warming solutions!

Stay cool,

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spotlight on

Check out climate action group They have an upbeat, action-oriented website that points out the critical nature of global warming while leaving you inspired to take action. was one of the organizers of the largest anti-coal protest yet in the U.S. on Monday at the Capitol Hill Power plant, where thousands turned out in dress clothes and shut down the plant for the day by blocking access. Plans for the protest caused Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to announce they would no longer burn coal in the plant--last week! Coal-fired power plants are one of the biggest contributors to global warming. is also organizing a Global Day of Climate Action worldwide on October 24, 2009, six weeks before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to write a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions. Find out more here: The website also offers a link to a Facebook application that can earn you rewards for actions to reduce climate change if you're 16-25. Might be interesting for the rest of us, too.

Thanks for the links, Patty! Here's clickable links to the story about recycled gifts: and the kids' energy-saving game:
Stay cool!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Well, there's some good news and some bad news this week. The bad news is that Chris Fields, one of the heads of the Nobel-awarded Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says that greenhouse gas emissions have been growing even faster than climate models projected. This makes the good news that President Obama asked Congress to send him cap-and-trade legislation to reduce global warming especially timely.

What's cap-and-trade? It's a market-based system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was shown to be quite effective in reducing the sufur dioxide pollution that caused acid rain. It puts a strict limit on emissions, and the sources of these emissions then receive a permit to pollute, basically, up to a given limit. These permits are such that total emissions don't exceed the strict emissions limit. The system allows the emitters to stay within their limit any way they see fit. Those that emit less than their limit can sell allowances to those who emit more. Before you become horrified, realize that a) the limit is reduced every year and b) this system actually worked more quickly than expected to reduce acid rain emissions, and more cheaply than critics predicted. When's the last time you heard of anything working more quickly than expected in government? Let's get behind this effort, which has been in effect in Europe since 2005.

Read The Hot Topic, by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King, for a good description of cap and trade, p. 156, and a wealth of good information on global warming solutions. And send me your tips and global warming info!


Friday, February 20, 2009

I heard a cool idea this week (seriously, I didn't intend to pun) on Living On Earth, the weekly environmental public radio show. California's energy commissioner, Arthur Rosenfeld, is a big advocate of white or light-reflecting roofs, which are now required for new roofs and re-roofs in California. He'll soon travel to China and India to urge those nations to require white roofs, too.

"If white roofs took over the world or the urban world over a twenty year program, we would save twenty five billion tons of CO2, which is the same as turning off the whole world's emissions of CO2 for one year," said Rosenfeld.

You can reduce the energy you consume to cool your house by 10 to 20 percent if your roof is white instead of dark. In addition, the white roof, because it reflects heat back into space, cools your neighborhood and the world directly. A thousand square feet of white roof cools the world enough to offset the heating effects of ten tons of carbon dioxide. That's about two and a half years of emissions from your family car or one year's emissions from your house, according to Rosenfeld.

What happens in winter? The amount you save on cooling is a lot more than you lose on heat, at least in most places. In Boston, you lose 15% of the summer savings on increased winter energy use, but in Birmingham, Alabama, you only lose 5%. The winter loss is low because of our tilted planet: In winter, the sun is low and shines mostly on the south wall of your house, and in summer, it's high and shines mostly on the roof. So we should paint our roofs white and our southern walls dark. Read Bruce Gellerman's interview of Rosenfeld here. And send me your tips! Have a cool week.


Friday, February 13, 2009

I can't say it any better than the Environmental Defense Action Fund does today: Friday the 13th just got a little scarier. The EDF Action Fund has put together 13 facts about the realities of global warming. Here's a few of them:

34% -- Percentage that 2008's Arctic seasonal sea ice melt outpaced normal levels.

1.5 million --Number of acres of forests in Colorado destroyed by the pine beetle, which is better able to survive warmer winters and is wreaking havoc in America's western forests. In Santa Fe, NM, we see thousands of trees killed by the pine beetle.

$427 million -- Amount spent by the oil and coal industries in the first six months of 2008 in political contributions, lobbying expenditures and advertising to oppose climate action.

A strong economy-wide cap on global warming pollution is the best way to get a handle on global warming, one that European countries have been implementing for years. But it will take a movement of millions of people like us to get our Congress to finally act.

So please, read the facts and click here to send your Congressional reps the message that you want action on global warming. Spread the word to your friends and family face-to-face, through email, Facebook, whatever. Send them a link to this blog! And help make future Friday the 13ths less scary!

Thanks, Patty, for sharing what you do to reduce global warming. If enough of us take actions like this, and I know there are a lot of you out there who do, it can make a big difference. Let us know what you're doing!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'd love to hear your ideas for reducing your carbon footprint. Here's an idea from Washington State: get your state senator or rep to introduce legislation that allows car insurance companies to charge people based on how many miles they drive. That would provide an incentive to people to reduce their carbon impact by charging less for insurance for those who drive fewer miles. Read more about it here: (BTW, the article features my sister Polly. Read it for inspiration!) It does raise some privacy concerns. Would you be willing to have the number of miles you drive monitored in order to save money on insurance and provide extra motivation for driving less? I would.

Friday, January 30, 2009

So here's a cool little thing you can do to reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint, if, like me, you're incredibly cheap and are still using a CRT (one of those big old clunky monitors). I know, I know, I really should buy an LCD monitor. But in the meantime, I've downloaded free software that cuts the energy use of my CRT by blacking out the part I'm not using. (The white space on a CRT is created by directing an electron beam at the little red, blue, and green dots (phosphors) at the front of the screen, which uses energy to make them light up.) The beam doesn't get fired at the part of the screen that's black. To download this program for free, go to: It also helps to shrink the size of the screen area you're using to minimize the white space showing. And buy an LCD monitor as soon as you can! Note: Don't download the program if you have an LCD monitor, and remove it if you buy one. The program won't save energy if you have an LCD, and it may even use more energy.

Post your ideas for saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint!

Friday, January 23, 2009

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about global warming. You can find some of them at the sites listed to the right. I'm far from perfect in trying to reduce my carbon footprint, but I've found that when I can do something, it turns out to be worthwhile even besides the benefit of reducing CO2.

Take riding the bus (please). That's something I thought would be a chore here in Santa Fe, NM, where public transportation is a bit sketchy, but turns out it's more of an adventure. It does involve getting up about 45 minutes earlier, and we have to walk or bike a mile and a half to the closest bus stop, but that's kind of fun. Not only do I get some exercise, it's a pleasant scramble across an arroyo and some more-or-less natural high desert terrain.

A couple of weeks ago, I read about a young woman who died after stealing a car. She was being chased by the police, tried to pass another vehicle, and ran head on into a crane. I didn't think too much about it, except to feel sad about a senseless death. A couple of guys got on the bus a couple days later, and one of them started talking to me, mentioning that they were from Santo Domingo Pueblo. After a few minutes, he pulled a ring out of his pocket. "Did you read about that girl that got killed when she crashed into a crane? She was a friend of ours. This is her ring. We're trying to get back to Santo Domingo to bury it."

You may think you're helping prevent climate change, and you are, but it turns out you're getting even more than you bargained for.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In case you hadn't heard, there's a bit of a CO2/global warming/climate change problem. I think the fact that grabs my attention the most is that we've created CO2 levels in the atmosphere that are higher now than at any time over the last 650,000 years (see Union of Concerned Scientists FAQ #5 here.) Humans as we know them today didn't even exist 650,000 years ago.