Climate change: Take action now

The responsibility for achieving a significant enough reduction in carbon pollution lies with us.

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 11:53am
  • Opinion
Michael Laurie

Michael Laurie

“Oh, people look around you now. The signs they are everywhere.”

— Jackson Browne,

“Rock Me on the Water,” 1972

In the report released last October by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), they said we have 12 years to reduce climate change before we risk major worldwide problems. They also said that the solutions are “affordable and feasible” but “carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.”

There will not likely be much action at the federal level for at least two years. Many people in developing countries are hoping to reach a more middle-class type of lifestyle soon. And workable solutions for reducing climate change impacts in a lot of industrial production are not currently ready. So, a lot of the responsibility for achieving that 45% reduction lies with us in our personal lives, businesses and volunteer efforts largely at the local and state levels.

The good news is that many of the solutions are well proven and will save more than they cost. The book “Drawdown” is the work of researchers from around the world, presenting information on 100 of the best solutions.

Here on Vashon, we have many opportunities to reduce our contribution to climate change with the help of our neighbors and local organizations.

Amory Lovins, a long-time international leader on sustainability efforts, recently said, “The biggest energy resource in the world, the one that’s bigger than oil, is efficient use.”

If you have not had a free energy audit through Puget Sound Energy’s program, please consider signing up to learn how best to save in your home, and you get free LED light bulbs, shower heads and faucet aerators.

If you have not done so, I encourage you to sign up for green energy from Puget Sound Energy (PSE). Depending on how much electricity your home uses, you can lock it all in as green energy for a monthly price of $4 to $20.

If your home is heated with natural gas or oil, I encourage you to get a quote for switching to electric heat pump heating, ideally a ductless heat pump if it will work in your home. About nine years ago, I switched from oil heat to a ductless heat pump as well as adding more insulation, more efficient lighting and appliances, sealing air leaks, signed up for green energy and more. And without considering the impact of signing up for green energy, I reduced my home’s energy use climate change impact by over 60% and saved a lot of money in the process.

You can also get involved with the Vashon Climate Action Group or the Backbone Campaign’s efforts to address climate change. If they succeed in their efforts to close the coal plants in Montana that PSE buys electricity from, it will be like removing 1 million cars from the road in terms of its impact.

There is a reason to celebrate the recent passing of a bill at the state level that will make all of Washington state’s electricity carbon-free by 2045. But there are still other bills at the state level that address climate change that could use your help. For more information on them, either contact the aforementioned Vashon groups or see the Northwest Energy Coalition online.

All actions that reduce climate change impacts will help, but it is important to try to focus a lot of our efforts on the actions with the biggest impacts.

There is a great graph at the beginning of an excellent article in Vox on climate change impacts, by one of the best writers on climate change, Seattle’s David Roberts.

That graph shows that the actions with the biggest impacts are: eat a plant-based diet, buy green energy, avoid one round-trip trans-Atlantic flight, live car-free and have fewer children. Just to be clear, I like children, and my work on climate change is to protect their future.

I encourage you to support the following other local groups in their efforts to help reduce climate change: Zero Waste Vashon in their efforts to reduce waste; Vashon Island Growers Association in their effort to support the growing and selling of local food; the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust in their effort to protect and restore wildlands; and the Vashon Forest Stewards in their sustainable forestry efforts.

— Michael Laurie has been a sustainability consultant for over 30 years.

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