An introduction to Global Warming and Peak Oil Concepts - An Essay

What Can I Do?

Many of the actions that you can take now cost little to no money, take minimal time investment and can save you $100 or more in your yearly power bills and reduces CO2 emissions by thousands of pounds per year.

Quick Fixes:

  1. Write your congressmen/congresswomen, your representatives, your president and vice president about your concerns and demand a progressive energy policy. They need to hear us and stand up for us. It's their elected job and we need to hold them to it.
  2. Vote with your dollar. This concept is very important – all of the products that are sold today are there because there is a demand for it.If everyone chooses not to purchase lumber that came from old growth forests, they would no longer be cut down.If everyone chose to drive a fuel efficient car or use biofuels, foreign oil consumption could be all but eliminated.The market is more under our control that you think – everything you buy or even better, choose not to buy, sends the manufacturer a message.
  3. Go CO2 Neutral. "Payoff" your carbon footprint by subscribing to a carbon offset company. We like carbonfund where you can "offset" yourself for $99 tax-deductable smackers a year. Yes, it's cheating, but it eases the conscience somewhat and puts your money where your mouth is.

Reduce Your Use

    1. Turn off all unused lights, avoid heating and cooling unused or little used rooms
    2. Install Compact Flourescent bulbs in your home.
    3. Install low-flow showerheads.
    4. When appliances need to be replaced, buy a highly efficient EnergyStar rated model.
    5. Unplug remote-controlled devices such as TVs, VCRs, DVD players and stereos as well as electronics and phone chargers when not in use – they draw a constant “phantom load” that can be up to 20% of your yearly power bills.You can also use power strips or “smart strips” that completely turn off devices that draw a phantom load.
    6. Improve your home’s insulation
    7. Turn down your thermostat by 2 degrees in the winter and turn it up by 2 degrees in the summer. Saves 2,000 lbs CO2/year and cash to buy that organic cashmere hoody that you wanted to keep you a little warmer!

Energy Options:

1. Solar - Our 4.5 kW system was installed by a local company, REC solar

2. Hydroelectric

3. Wind

4. Green Energy Credits - Native Energy

5. CO2 Offsets - Carbonfund
The “carbon trading” industry is taking off, especially in Europe.The concept is that companies or individuals can “offset” the estimated amount of CO2 that they produce by donating money or paying a company that specializes in carbon trading.Some companies, such as carbonfund.org are non-profit and the donations are tax-deductable.Other companies, such as Terrapass.com are for profit and contributions are not deductable.The companies in turn use that money towards efforts that reduce CO2 emissions or help to sequester CO2 in various ways:investments in renewable energy, tree planting, biogeneration plants over landfills and sewage treatment plants, and other methods.Proper research is important, not all CO2 trading companies are equal and some are under scrutiny for questionable projects.


Transportation:

1. Ride a Bike.

An amazing amount of fuel is wasted driving to areas within a few miles of our homes. Riding a bicycle is a clean, healthy, inexpensive, and convenient way to commute short distances.  Links:  San Luis Obispo rideshare bike info,

2. Public transportation

We can save an incredible amount of resources by sharing rides, taking public transportation and getting out of our cars whenever possible.  Links:  SLO Regional Transit Authority,

3. Electric Cars

This technology is coming along quickly and electric cars are becoming commercially available. The most exciting right now is the Tesla roadster, an all-electric sports car that goes 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, has a top speed of and a range of 250 miles! Links: Who Killed The Electric Car?,

4. Biodiesel

 Biodiesel is a hydrocarbon made from plant oil. It is renewable, CO2 neutral, emits no sulfur and has minimal emissions, and can be used without any or with very minor alteration to any diesel vehicle including cars, trucks, agriculture machines, trains, and generators. Links:Our Home Biodiesel Diary, The Collaborative Biodiesel Tutorial, Utah Biodiesel Supply,

5. Vegetable oil

Used or new vegetable oil can be filtered and will run in any diesel engine as long as it's hot enough. There are engine modification kits that will allow your diesel vehicle to run directly on vegetable oil. There are other 2-tank systems that start the vehicle on diesel or biodiesel, using your coolant system to heat up the oil, then switching over to biodiesel when it is up to temperature. These kits are fairly easy to install for the do-it-yourselfer and run from $600-$1500. Links: Greasecar, Frybrid, Golden Fuel Systems,

6. Ethanol (actually not a good option but better than petrol

7. Live closer to work

8.  CO2 Offset your Travel  - Carbonfund has vehicle, and air travel ClimateTags, as well as thier standard home, individual, family, and gift CO2 offset programs. 

Shopping

Buy less and buy local.Because it is available, we consume.There are endless plastic doo-dads made in Chinese sweatshops sold at corporate retailers that leave a toxic trail from cradle to grave.If you must buy something, try to buy a high-quality, responsibly made (no sweatshops, no toxins, FSC certified wood) product from a local, non-corporate vendor.  Proving that grassroots efforts and voting with your dollar works, the website "Victoria's Dirty Little Secret", got out the word that Vicky C's was printing their millions of catalogs on old growth trees.  They got enough pressure to change their paper source to FSC certified products! Links:  Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping,

Reuse

Rather than throw out things that you are done with, donate them to Goodwill, post them on Craigslist or http://www.freecycle.org/

Recycle

Be diligent in sorting your recycling waste.Information on our local recycling program can be found on http://www.iwma.com at the San Luis Obispo Integrated Waste Management Association. For the energy it takes to make one new aluminum can, 5 cans could have been recycled.Batteries are very important to recycle and are often overlooked.Both traditional and rechargeable batteries that end up in landfills leach toxic chemicals. Links:  Earth 911's Battery Recycling page

Food

Our American diets have become extraordinarily unhealthy and we are the most obese country on the planet.In general this is due to highly processed foods containing large amounts of sugars and simple carbohydrates as well as the plethora of fast food restaurants and large portions.There are other trends in food that affect our health and our planet as well.The production of one pound of beef requires 10X the amount of land and water than a pound of vegetables.This doesn’t mean you need to become a vegetarian to make responsible food choices.Although you can get all of the protein and nutrients that you need with a careful vegetarian or vegan diet, humans have evolved to be omnivores and animal products are fine for consumption.We should, however, reduce the amount of meat in our diets as well as be aware of how that meat is raised and what is fed to the animals it comes from.

    1. Buy local – this is the most important concept regarding diet.Local foods, whether they are organic or not, require significantly less energy to package and transport than the same food grown elsewhere.
    2. Buy organic – Pesticides and hormones are found in our foods in high enough levels to be detected in our urine.Nobody knows the full long-term effects of these agents on the human body, but there is evidence to show that high levels can be harmful.
    3. Buy responsibly raised/caught meats - Free-range chicken and eggs and grass fed beef are good.Patagonia “Oceans as Wilderness” campaign for responsibly harvested fishing.The current prediction is that we will no longer have commercially fishable waters with 40 years.The Blue Ocean Institute has a “Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood” with ratings of sustainability in different types of seafood (These can be downloaded or sometimes picked up at Patagonia stores).
    4. Buy fair trade – Fair trade certified foods (coffee and chocolate are currently widely available) are meant to ensure that the money you pay will end up back in the hands of the farmers that grow it.The fair trade system is extensively used in Europe and has been shown to significantly improve the living conditions, the education levels, healthcare, and the economies of these communities.

Housing Options:

Strawbale

Eco-Friendly Pre-Fab

Green Homebuilding 101



Where to find more information:

News: BBC news, The Guardian, The New Internationalist, Democracy Now!,

Blogs: The S.E.E.P., treehugger, grist, inhabitat,

Must Reads:

The Guardian's Ethical Living Guide

worldchanging - a user's guide to the 20th century

treehugger's "go green guide"

climatecrisis.org/ - The official website for former Vice-President Al Gore’s movie, “"An Inconvenient Truth"”, about climate change and global warming. (book)

The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World, Paul Roberts - review coming soon

The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, Tim Flannery

The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel Stephen Leeb, Ph.D.

Loose Change, a documentary discussing alternate explanations for the horrors that took place on 9/11/01. You can watch it for free here.

If you know of a great resource, let me know and I'll include it here. If you don't feel that the information presented here is important enough or there is not enough evidence to act upon, please continue to research the subject until you are convinced.

Favorite Sites/Companies:

Patagonia

Blue Ocean’s sustainable seafood guide.

Daily Heroics:

write your congressperson about your concerns

Ride your bike

Recycle EVERYTHING

Turn off the lights

Run the water less

Take your own cup/plate/utensils to work

Drive more slowly

Check the air in your tires

Compost

Buy Locally Grown Foods

Use Green Building Supplies (local, FSC certified, low VOC, etc)

Use public transportation

Knowledge is Power

The links on this page are to resources that we have used, to get you off to a running start. We think that by using a variety of news outlets and blogs a reliable world view can be developed.

Always try to have an open mind when synthesizing a variety of data, it's quality, it's source, it's reliability, objectiveness and it's honesty. The web is an amazing source of both information and mis-information. Try to verify your sources, read both sides, and decide logically who and what you believe on the subjects of global warming, the oil crisis, how our current political system has been rendered ineffective by corporate bribery and nepetism.  It is our duty as Americans and global citizens to research this information and act upon it. That means we all need to take individual action as well as get involved on a larger scale.