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…
Facebook – Use 10 Percent Less
It’s amazing – Just 10% can halt global warming!
A good friend of mine responded to one of the email newsletters (you can subscribe near the top right of this page) I send out with the following comments. They are so heart felt and stimulating, that I’m posting them here (she said it was ok).
I struggle with the terminology – global warming. I think that people in Western Europe don’t really see that. Floods, a wet cold summer with temperatures well below the seasonal norm just don’t help people to associate what is happening to our climate with the words “global warming”. I talk about climate change which I believe is affecting us all. And I also believe man is responsible and that we need to be responsible for our carbon footprint and our waste. My big big bugbare is supermarkets……. Packaging – the reams and reams of cardboard and plastic, cheap meat, cheap this, cheap that. For me education about our life style and food is so important. We don’t need to eat loads of cheap supermarket meat. We should be eating very little meat and from quality sources. Too much to say here and I’m worried I’m going to get on my soap box, but in brief I think we should take about climate change, which will incorporate global warming which will result in flooding, the balance of the ocean currents and on it goes. And that we recyclle – reducing it as well as doing it properly. There – something to discuss over a nice glass of wine at some stage I feel.
What do you think?
This speech by James Hansen – Why I must speak out about climate change – really helped me understand the link between global warming and climate change. Global warming is the undeniable constant. The Earth is getting warmer rapidly and consistently. James explains how this warming causes more extremes in climate variation. The floods, storms, etc., are all predicted by global warming. It’s worth listening to James’ speech.
I’m always worried about cheap stuff in supermarkets because we don’t know what’s happened to make it cheap. Has somebody been exploited? Has the Earth been exploited? Are we helping to ruin peoples lives or the future of the environment just so we can save a little money?
I’d like to buy my things from globally responsible organizations, and then get the cheapest price I can. Just going for cheap, at any true cost, doesn’t do it for me.
Sue Stevenson says
Hello Peter, I so agree with you. This drive for cheap is, I believe, so counterproductive. It has so frightened me to see the rise of the likes of Lidl and Aldi over the last few years as more and more people are struggling financially. It is so frightening the hold that these large, often multinational supermarkets have over people’s lives. I got the back end of a radio 4 programme about a lady who is following a post war rationing diet. What really struck me about that was eating seasonal food. I see this a lot in the corner of France that we live in, as I go to the market twice a week to buy all my fruit and veg. Produce changes as the year moves on. It is all fresh and thankfully we have two markets a week as, because the produce is not pumped full of goodness knows what to give it an extended shelf live, what you buy just lasts in its fresh state for a few days. So I think we should really look at this and ask ourselves why we seeing strawberries (for example) in the supermarket throughout the winter. How many miles have those bananas flown? Where on earth has that exotic fruit that I don’t even recognise come from. What has been the effect of producing it and getting it into a western supermarket. I have made a conscious effort to boycott supermarkets. Of course I have to go to buy flour, loo roll etc etc, but refuse to buy any meat or vegetables from them. We need to stand up to them and make them behave. And again education is so important. Good on Jamie Oliver and his drive to educate school children about healthy, balanced food. That is where we need to start. Schools should be making children aware of what is happening to our world and what they can encourage their parents to do to help. No to cheap and lots. Yes to quality and less.
Couldn’t agree more Sue. We get manipulated by major companies and their big advertising budgets into doing things that help them make profits, even though they might not be good for us.
Talking about the freshness of food, I discussed this in a post called Finding the best food for your body where I made the following quote;
Consider this, if you pick something and then leave it in the fridge for a day before eating it, does it have more or less nutritional value? Many would say it has the same nutritional value and it’s fine. Actually, it has less than when it was picked. This is easily proved if we consider the same piece of food after 30 days in the fridge. Then it will be shriveled and gone off and you wouldn’t want to eat it. It has lost it’s nutritional value. From the moment something is picked, it starts losing it’s nutritional value.
It’s clear to me that local, fresh fruits and vegetables are what we need, and for those to be organically grown. The closer we can get to eating “living foods” the better.