Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day

It's Earth Day today. The CNN website has an extensive report entitled, "Changing Earth". Do click through and vote on the "Quick Vote" option which asks, "How do you feel about the current state of the environment?" Answers to choose from are:

* No worries
* I'm a little worried
* I'm very concerned
* Total destruction is underway

Needless to say, I picked the fourth answer. So did 25% of participants at the time I voted.

One of the articles in the report focuses on what we can actually do. Here's an excerpt:

Technology with the greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already exists, say Princeton University scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow in a 2004 study published in the journal Science.

Improving efficiency and conservation could slash billions of tons in atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases each year. Improvements such as efficient engineering, better gas mileage and new fuel sources for vehicles and power plants have the potential to halt growth of emissions by around 2050, according to the study."

It is important not to become beguiled by the possibility of revolutionary technology," the Princeton authors write in Science. "Humanity can solve the carbon and climate problem in the first half of this century simply by scaling up what we already know how to do."

The scientists picked seven actions that they say could stabilize the climate by 2054. They focused on technology already in place that simply needs to be expanded -- a lot.

Cars are an easy target. Each gallon of gas burned releases about 20 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That's a lot of carbon for the 2 billion cars that may be on the road by 2054, nearly four times the number today, the authors report.

The Science article suggests that doubling the average fuel efficiency of cars from 30 miles per gallon today to 60, switching to wind-generated hydrogen fuels or halving the annual number of miles traveled per car to 5,000 could slash carbon dioxide emissions. The savings would provide one-seventh of the total cuts needed to stabilize U.S. emissions, the article states.

Let me say that one thing I've done fairly recently is to stop going home for lunch. It's something I really like to do in the middle of the day but it is actually unnecessary. I have now cut the amount of driving I do almost in half by that one decision. I urge everyone to examine his or her driving habits and see if it's possible to cut back just a little. If everyone did this it would really add up and truly make a difference.

Celebrate this day. Speak to the Earth and tell her you love her. Go outside with bare feet and make physical contact with the Earth. Then make as generous a contribution as you can to the environmental activist non-profit of your choice. It will make the day a truly memorable one for all of us.

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