Did you know that if we reduced our emissions by just 10%, we could halt global warming? In fact, if you listen to James Hansen in this video he suggests that, if we start today, we’d only need to reduce emissions by 8%. We should be able to do that, shouldn’t we?
10% Less Emissions
10% less emissions really means 10% less carbon based pollution. It’s not a one-off thing though. In order to halt global warming, we need 10% less emissions year-on-year. So each year we need to be reducing by another 10% but we only ever have to be concerned about a 10% reduction.
This is the idea behind the Use 10 Percent Less initiative. It feels much easier to reduce our usage by just 10%, than to be told that we must stop using something altogether. For example, trying to stop using cars completely is almost impossible, but using them 10% less is well within our reach.
There is some practical evidence that reducing our emissions can have a real and rapid effect on the planet. During a time of high pollution in Paris, when the authorities only allowed half of the passenger cars within central Paris, the measurable air pollution decreased by 20% in just one day. That surprised me. It highlighted the dramatic negative impact we have on the planet every day.
Have a look at the movement called “350” which is trying to get the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere back to 350 ppm. Today it’s 401 ppm (see http://co2now.org) and scientists believe that 450 ppm is a tipping point from which we can’t go back.
Another piece of evidence about the rapid effect of pollution was found when I was looking into the effect of vapor trails from air planes. After the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, all U.S. air travel was suspended for three days. During this short time span scientists noticed a significant change in the surface temperature of the Earth because of the lack of vapor trails (that help trap heat radiating from the Earth). Once again, I was surprised just how quickly a reduction in pollution can have a measurable positive impact on the environment.
When people discuss reducing CO2 emissions, most of the time I find they are talking about finding alternative sources of energy to provide what we need. This page from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that 20-30% of additional renewable energy could decrease CO2 emissions by 30-40%. One of the biggest problems in the U.S. is the reliance on coal fired electricity plants. Replacing those with cleaner alternatives can have a huge effect.
A Problem We Can Fix
If the solution to global warming is to replace the energy sources we use, then it quickly can seem like someone else’s problem. We, as individuals, can’t replace the energy sources our country uses. That’s a job for governments. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there’s nothing we can do.
But we forget that using less and reducing emissions would have the most immediate positive impact of all. And, we’re in charge of how much we use. We don’t have to wait for energy sources to be replaced. If we use less today, the impact on our environment would be immediate (and it would save us money!).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) provides information about what individuals can do in the home, office, school and on the road. On their website they make the following statement;
Driving a car, using electricity to light and heat your home, and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce emissions through simple actions like changing a light bulb, powering down electronics, using less water, and recycling. This site provides more than 25 easy steps you can take at Home, School, the Office, and On the Road to protect the climate, reduce air pollution, and save money. Take action today! Small steps add up, if we all do our part.
This is really good. It would be even better if they explained how significant using less can be. Using less is the single most positive action any of us can take today. If we all started using less today, the benefit for the planet would be immediate.
The planet deserves our respect. It has provided every single thing we take advantage of in our lives (except for the sunlight, of course). Yet we take it for granted and abuse it just to make profits for ourselves (even if that is bad news for our children and grand-children). Polluting the Earth and chopping down its forests are clearly bad directions (we don’t even need global warming to tell us that). Reducing pollution and emissions can only help and must give the Earth, and us, a better chance.
There’s No Downside!
Apart from taking a bit of effort, there’s no real downside of using 10% less. What would be the consequences?
- less pollution
- less CO2 in the atmosphere
- we’d use our natural resources more slowly
- we’d save money
Some of the things I’m currently doing to use 10% less are;
- improving my driving style to use less fuel
- driving less kms per month
- taking public transport, or walking, sometimes
- flying less
- using less plastic
Is there any point to arguing whether or not using 10% less could actually can halt global warming when just the act of trying brings so many benefits?
If we can’t use 10 percent less than we did last year, then we’re not really trying!
Let’s just do it! Small steps add up! We’ve got nothing to lose (except our planet!).
Together we can halt global warming!
Are you willing to try and use 10% less?
Can you find one area of your life where you can use 10% less?
To do this, we need to support each other. I certainly need your support to keep at this. I need your ideas and encouragement.
You can share you ideas and achievements in the comments below or using Facebook or Twitter…
It’s amazing – Just 10% can halt global warming!