Green Energy Decisions that Individuals Can Make

In making changes in our uses of energy in order to become sustainable, much can be done on the large scale of our governments and our energy plants and utilities. However, in the end use, we personally are responsible for which technologies we choose, and how we choose to use them. Many of us know what the consequences of our choices are. We need to propagate those into the governments, the utilities, the car companies, the building and design companies, the airlines and transportation, the sources of science funding, the food industry, and many others. Then we have to make the beneficial personal choices, and educate our friends and others about why we make our choices.

Since the suggestions are for individuals, each city can run its own designed program to motivate its residents to undertake them.  They can have a very user friendly website to simply explain the relevance to climate, and why the actions are useful.  They can run Green Action ads in the various local newspapers and web news, timed to what is most effective at various times of the year.  In the summer they can feature air conditioning savings, in the winter heat savings.  In the fall they can point out Green car purchases.  They can also adopt Green incentives from other cities, such as reduced parking fees or extended time for electric or electric hybrid vehicles.

The wonderful thing is that energy is also very local. The Democratic states and Democratic cities, and universities and businesses have made commitments to participate in the Paris process, and to satisfy the Paris Agreement commitments made by President Obama. In Republican states, many cities are Democratic, and have Democratic House members.

Trump and Scott Pruitt, Administrator and Destructor of the EPA, are having their destruction of the Clean Power Plan, and pollution of air and water, challenged in courts on many grounds. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement does not become official until the next President is elected. With all of his efforts to deny healthcare to tens of millions, and increase taxes on many of his followers, while polluting their air and water, while abandoning their public schools, and averaging four lies a day, it is unimaginable that he will maintain their support for four years. His approval ratings have hardly budged from only 38%, the lowest of any President at this time period in their terms.

In terms of population and energy use, the cities in Republican states have a large share of the population and are Democratic, but have been underrepresented in Congress due to Republican gerrymandering. As such, they still can direct utilities to seek cleaner energy sources, through clean or green energy options.

Much of energy usage is under local control and individual control. We each choose which car to drive, and even whether to drive it in a fuel saving way. We choose whether to drive to many stores to shop, or to buy on the Internet when feasible. We choose to group our driving targets. We choose whether to carpool. We choose how many intercontinental vacations to take, versus US or local vacations. We choose whether business or conference trips are necessary.

We choose how much air conditioning to use, in terms of setting the thermostat in the upper 70s to reduce usage. We choose how much natural gas to burn to heat our houses, and whether to drop the temperature a little by wearing sweaters. We choose whether to take a little time to direct our heating or air conditioning to the rooms we are actually in. We choose whether to have drapes for insulation, and to actually use them.

Now, in California, we can choose 100% clean energy plans, which go to buying more solar, wind, or biomass and waste power production. These cost something like $5 more per month. They do not require a large investment or commitment like rooftop solar does.

The main food choice for the climate is to realize that cows give off methane. On a hundred year basis, methane is about 30 times more of a greenhouse gas than CO2, per molecule. Roughly, beef, per pound, is about seven times more polluting than pork or chicken. As more countries become developed and develop a taste for meat, they have to be informed of this. There is enough food being produced for a future population of 10 billion, but poor distribution leaves many hungry and some starving. There is also the problem of a large amount of food wastage.

Most important, we can vote every two years for representatives, sometimes for senators, sometimes for mayors, for city council members, for county supervisors, and every four years for Presidents. We need to vote for those who are informed about climate change, and are committed to acting on it.`

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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