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,