Friday, January 25, 2008

What You Can Do!

50 Tips to Help Climate Change

The Biggest threat to Climate change is the emission of CO² into the air. Here are some useful tips on how to reduce the release of CO² into the air, cutback on energy use, save money and help save our planet!

  1. Car Pool to School or Work or use Public Transportation.
  2. Bike or Walk instead of driving somewhere it helps the environment and is great exercise!
  3. Buy a Hybrid car when you’re looking for that next big purchase.
  4. Use bio-fuels in your car Bio-fuels are produced from crops such as oil seed rape or sugar beet, and burning them produces lower emissions of climate-changing gases.
  5. Make sure tires are fully inflated. Under-inflated car tires cause your car to have greater fuel consumption.
  6. Change your air filter regularly.
  7. Support your small town community by purchasing local and organic foods. This will cut down on energy, money and fuel used to transport products from around the world.
  8. Recycle aluminum, by recycling one aluminum drink can is enough energy to run your TV for 3 hours.
  9. Turn the thermostat down by just two degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer can save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year as well as money on your electric bill.
  10. Keep your heat off while no one is at home, or set a timer so it shuts off before you leave and right before you come home.
  11. Use thicker curtains to keep in heat and close them right before the sun sets.
  12. Turn your lights off when leaving a room!
  13. Use compact florescent light bulbs. They use less electricity and last much longer!
  14. Unplug cell phones and other chargers once electronic devices are fully charged.
  15. Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as often as possible. This can also help you to loose those extra pounds put on during the holidays.
  16. Pressure cookers and steamers use a lot less energy and also are very healthy method to use while cooking.
  17. Only use washing Machine and dish washer when there is a full load.
  18. Avoid using dryers as often as possible. During the summer hang the clothes out on a clothes line.
  19. Print Wisely! Think twice before clicking the print button while at the office or in class.
  20. Make sure all house hold appliances and office equipment is unplugged when not in use. Even if electrical equipment is switched off it still is using energy when plugged in.
  21. Use solar panels and other renewable energy sources.
  22. Teleconference instead of flying and paying for travel costs.
  23. Remember to recycle and try and use more recycled products such as recycled paper.
  24. Plant Trees
  25. Use Less Hot Water for heating water uses a lot of energy or switch to a tankless water heater. It can save you up to $390 in heating bills per year.
  26. Make sure water heater does not exceed 120 degrees and insulate it.
  27. Change your shower head to a low flow shower head.
  28. Avoid products with a lot of packaging for this will cut down on the amount of garbage you produce per year.
  29. Use energy star qualified products such as dishwasher, washing machine, dryer etc.
  30. Use a push mower when cutting the grass. This consumes no fossil fuels therefore it does not emit greenhouse gases.
  31. Make sure walls are insulated in your home. Making sure lofts and the upper floors of a house are insulated properly will keep the house much warmer during the winter.
  32. Switch to windows that are double- pane, this will also help keep the heat in during those cold winter months.
  33. Make sure doorways and windows are properly caulked and weatherproofed.
  34. Replace old electronics with new energy efficient ones.
  35. Buy large size/quantity products to avoid excess packaging.
  36. Use reusable grocery bags rather than continuously using the plastic bags at the store.
  37. An average American diet contributes about 1.5 tons of green house gasses per year. You can help reduce this by removing meat and dairy products from your diet one day a week.
  38. Don’t idle your car. You can also turn off your engine if you are waiting for more than 30 seconds to help cut down on the toxic fuel emissions from your car.
  39. Buy a fuel efficient car.
  40. Change your air conditioning filter as recommended.
  41. Heat your water using your stove rather than a microwave.
  42. Install low flow sink faucets in your bathrooms and kitchen areas.
  43. Drive less aggressively.
  44. Try and drive 10 miles less per week.
  45. Use reusable mugs for coffee instead of Styrofoam cups.
  46. Use washable dishes and silverware when having a party.
  47. Buy some vintage instead of new clothes from the mall.
  48. Take showers instead of baths.
  49. Buy Carbon offsets for what you can’t reduce.

Resources:

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/50_climate_top_tips.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/index.html

http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/whatyoucando/ http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/sgw_actionitems.asp

http://green.yahoo.com/pledge/create

-Amanda Bussett, Ithaca College Student

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

China Saves 37 Million Barrels of Crude Oil...



Beginning on June 1, 2008 there will be no more "free" or "ultra-thin" plastic bags in China. Really? China? China is following in the footsteps of Uganda, Ireland, South Africa and San Francisco! The banning of these plastic bags is going to save the Chinese 37-million barrels of crude oil each year! That's impressive! Why can't we do that here?


In the Fall of 2007 I gave up plastic bags! I had seen and heard all about what was happening on our planet, and still I did nothing. I somehow believed, but was not yet commiteed to making a change. Then I met a group of students from Cornell. These kids really cared and were passionate about this. After a discussion I had with them I went out and bought my first set of cloth grocery bags. They convinced me. Seeing Al Gore's, An Inconvenient Truth didn't convince me, watching CNN's, A Planet in Peril didn't convince me, but a group of college students were able to convince me in 20-minutes. If only they were able to sit down with the governments of the world and tell them what they told me. Perhaps some of them would listen.

-Billy Kepner, PRI/Museum of the Earth

Monday, January 14, 2008

Reflection

In order to understand how climate changes, it must be studied at local, regional, national, and global levels. After looking at the climate changes in each of these areas in conjunction with what I have learned about the Earth’s history for the past 4.5 billion years, I realized that what we as humans are contributing to the Earth’s climate is insignificant. Our contribution is insignificant in that the Earth will eventually recover from the forcing we have placed upon it. Carbon dioxide levels will be balanced out and will eventually return to equilibrium. What I failed to overlook earlier was that the problem revolved around the continuation of the human race as we know it, not of the Earth’s continuation. What we have started only affects us. From this perspective, global warming presents a very real problem. Just like viewing climate change on a global level, global warming is very relevant to the perspective of the viewer. By “saving” the Earth we are really only saving ourselves. Everything we do today to lower our carbon dioxide emissions and pollution output will only affect the human race. Further in the Earth’s timeline, these emissions will not matter. What we do is only for ourselves. Our actions are not for some disembodied creature that we must have intact in order to survive. We act for ourselves, so that the Earth will not change so much that we can no longer survive as a race. The Earth can and will react and change according to the imbalances we have created for it. It is we as a human collective who must be concerned. Personally, I feel more of a responsibility to the human race than to the Earth as a nonliving thing. If we can spread the notion of a responsibility toward each other rather than towards an Earth which will inevitably outlast us, will we be able to counteract the damage we have done to our future wellbeing and be able to continue to inhabit the Earth.

-Tyler Huth, Cornell University Student

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Smallness...

Did you ever hear about the hypothesis that a butterfly beating its wings could create a storm across the globe? The story goes that should something as small as a butterfly beat its wings at one location on the earth, the small wind that it would create would eventually travel and grow and begin a thunderstorm, or a hurricane, or a tornado somewhere else. This is one of my favorite analogies because it tells of what one small action can impact down the road.

This entire project has been an excellent learning experience. From all of the work that goes into a museum display to all of the things we can do to affect climate change, it has been an eye-opener. It was interesting to learn that many of the things that we can do to work on the climate change problem are things that will save households money in the long run.

Have you ever read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss? It is a story of the Once-ler, who comes to a forest of Truffula trees and sees the things he can make with them rather than the life that lives there. When he cuts down the first tree, out pops the Lorax, who tries to tell him that the forest is the home of many things and should not be cut down. The Once-ler does not listen, and cuts down more and more of the trees to create a product that sells and sells. The Lorax begins to send the animals of the forest away as the trees are cut down, until the Once-ler finally cuts down the last tree and the Lorax is the only one left. He leaves sadly, but the end of the story leaves the reader with hope that he will come back. The Once-ler has one single Truffula seed left, and he gives it to a boy to plant.

One of my favorite quotes from that book is the following:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

When you think about that quote, it really does sum up everything that we have been trying to convey with this exhibit. Unless we care enough to do something, nothing will happen, because we are the only ones. Throughout this semester, this has hit home again and again. If we were not to do something, who would? Who would go out and start recycling if we won’t? Who would pass resolutions to slow or halt the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? Who would challenge others to do something? Who would start caring enough to go and be a guide to the world if we won’t?

Ghandi said that we must be the change we want to see in the world. So we know what to do now. There really is nothing stopping us. The studies have been done, reviewed, and explained to the world. Experiments have been created, performed, and researched. The tools are in our hands; it’s just time to use them.

So the next time you go to the grocery store, ask if they have reusable bags you can purchase. Think of all the plastic that won’t be used! Think of the space in your home that you’ll have now that you don’t have to deal with the bags hanging around. Think of how much smaller the landfills would be without all that plastic. Going to a workout or a sports game? Reuse a plastic bottle for water (or better yet, get a bottle made to be washed!) instead of buying a bottle when you get there. Need to replace an appliance? Get an EnergyStar certified one! They don’t cost any more, but they save you money on your bills, and therefore cut down on energy consumption. That’s pretty good, two for one. Talk about more bang for your buck. And those light bulbs that your environmentally-conscious friend has been bugging you to change? Do it! And don’t forget to turn out the light when you leave the room. Saves you money and saves energy, too.

We’ve made a pretty good start. So we’re off the starting line, and we’re on the move. Time to catch up to the problems that we’ve watched build and settle in to a faster pace because we’ve got a long race ahead of us. Start small if you have to. It will build in time, until finally we can all start taking those bigger steps together. Almost like a three-legged race. If we don’t start small, often we collapse. But once we’ve got the rhythm, we can speed up and get somewhere.

John Donne wrote that no man is an island. We are all in this together. And if I don’t do a little something and you don’t do a little something, we will have nothing. So the next time you have the chance to do something, whether it be as small as turning out the light when you leave the room or as large as passing legislation to help fix the problem that mankind has created with climate change, do it. We only go through this life once; we may never have the opportunity again.

I’m going to be doing something. Because I can. Because I care.

Will you?


Laura Santamaria- Cornell University Student

How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
~William Shakespeare

Friday, January 4, 2008

A World of Change...

The problem of global warming is real. No matter how much skeptics cherry pick or doubters deny, the evidence is clear; climate is changing. The effects can already be seen with the recent droughts in the southeast, or increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes, or the higher than average temperatures over the last couple decades. However, just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean its not there. Several effects may be “there” but are either just too gradual for us to notice, or so regrettable that we refuse to believe they can be occurring. Sea level rise is a serious issue that will affect millions soon, but cannot necessarily be seen like an intense hurricane. Declining biodiversity and the introduction of foreign diseases is something that is gradual and too “slow” to catch with the naked eye. Even the drop in ice cover cannot be visually observed over a day, but rather over years. Nonetheless, these effects are occurring and undoubtedly, our dumping of anthropogenic gases into the atmosphere has either initiated them or accelerated exponentially an otherwise slow natural process.

After arguing with a skeptic for hours on the reality of global warming, I realized that the main point of doubters is that this is all just natural; all this warming and extreme weather and sea level rise is something that is occurring due to cyclical processes either in the solar intensity of the sun or on the earth systems. However, when I asked if this person wanted to see data refuting his argument, he blatantly remarked that there was no need to, he was right, and I was wrong. Epiphany: maybe skeptics aren’t as dumb as I had thought but rather na├»ve and ignorant of the facts. Maybe they just don’t want to admit that global warming is occurring because it is not something pleasant or something that is easily dealt with. Maybe, just maybe, skeptics know deep inside that global warming is real, but if they admit it to themselves and others, then that would mean that they must do something about it. I think part of this may be the fault of extreme warnings made by climatologists of an inevitable apocalypse without possible redemption; some people think we have surpassed the “tipping point” and anything done to mitigate anthropogenic climate change at this point would be futile. This is most likely erroneous, but nonetheless irrelevant, as we should still try to fix the problem that we created regardless of a chance that it’s too late. The world is definitely changing. But we must approach the issue with a positive attitude, for it is only then that we can hope to fix this problem for all future generations and provide a habitable planet for all organisms.

-Michael Bennett, Cornell University Student

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Parting Thoughts...

Well, the semester has come to a close and it is time to reflect on what I have learned. When I look back on it all, I realize that I have learned a vast amount about how the systems of the earth work and interact. I can describe how the carbon cycle works as well as tell you about the general atmospheric circulation patterns of the earth. But even though I know much more now that I did before, I now also know enough to realize the depth of what I don’t know. The field of earth science encompasses so much (everything enclosed within our blue sphere in space) that it seems almost impossible that someone could learn everything about the earth’s inner workings. And indeed, there is an almost infinite store of knowledge that no one knows. We spend our lives chipping away at this endless mass of knowledge in the hopes that we will eventually arrive at the ultimate answer to everything. I don’t think we’ll ever get there. In this class (and in life!) every answer brings only more questions.

One thing that I think we do have enough knowledge to realize is that the earth cannot sustain us the way we are using it now. The thing that separates us humans from other animals is our ability to consciously understand or surroundings and how the work. Doesn’t this sentient ability also give us some moral responsibility over the environments we so readily destroy? It would be a shame if our brain capacity (the reason we are able to alter our environments to such a scale) was also the reason for our downfall. The human race is capable of changing, we do it every day. All we need to do is have a little more respect for the planet we live on.

-Max Royster, Cornell University Student

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Projects....

I guess it’s a little bit difficult to put down into words everything that I have been able to take away from this project. Its different too; This wasn’t a math project where I spent the entire semester piecing equations together, I was doing my part to make a difference in the world. Its weird to think about that on a broader scheme. Mostly because before this project I never thought that anyone in their right mind would possibly listen to what I had to say about global climate change. So what have I learned from this whole thing? The cure for world hunger? The end to poverty? Its much more simpler than that. I’ve learned that I have to start small. Not “we”, not “us”; I. It starts with one. That’s all it takes. I guess that throughout my life I’ve depended on other people too much. But ill tell you what, I am not going to leave this climate change mess all up to my kids.

Now for the “we part”. We, as a community, as a population, as a union, need to stand up for what we believe in. we need to change the way that we live and the way that we view life. Its easy to slap that “buy local” sticker onto your car, but unless you are willing to make a change, unless you are willing to help others make a change, you might as well just hop into your gas guzzling SUV and bring it to the dump, because its not worth a thing. That isn’t to say that small gestures such as bumper stickers are meaningless. On the contrary. I believe that any way to get your message heard is a good way. But I also believe in taking action.

So the next time you go to Wegmans, splurge for the reusable bags. Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

-Kelsey Gleason, Cornell University Student