Andersen: Eco warriors on the home front
December 4, 2016
If the Trump administration decides to act on climate change, great! Meanwhile, I'm hedging bets by doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint on the home front. Thinking globally and acting locally has never been more crucial.
There is no more democratic issue than carbon. Each of us contributes, and each of us can cut back. Thinking government is the answer has been a misconception from the beginning. Ultimately, it's up to each of us.
We make daily decisions on our individual carbon output, deciding what we buy, how we use energy, the way we live — all free choices for Americans who contribute the per capita bulk of global carbon.
That's why each of us has an obligation to wisely exercise our consumer rights and our freedom as Americans toward the benefit of all. As global citizens, our responsibility should go beyond national boundaries and parochial interests.
We can start with these actions:
• Reduce unnecessary lighting and unnecessary car trips
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• Drive low-carbon emission vehicles
• Avoid long idling
• Use public transit
• Heat or cool homes and buildings to reasonable temperatures, only in the rooms you're using
• Subscribe to solar energy collectives
• Install thermal hot-water panels
• Keep doors to retail stores closed during cold weather — yes, even in Aspen
• Insulate homes and buildings for efficiency
• Buy locally grown food to avoid long haul shipping
• Do business with companies that are energy efficient
• Harness the sun for passive heating
• Shade structures from the sun during hot summer days
• Realize that each of us makes a difference
Meanwhile, international progress is being made through negotiated agreements to fight climate change. The U.N. Climate Summit was held in November and the Paris Agreement was held just a few days before. Both events have moved the world closer to universal, collective action.
DonaldTrump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, so it's likely that his presidency may cause that momentum to slow. As the second-largest carbon polluter next to China, a U.S. withdrawal would stymie hard-won global progress.
Trump once called climate change a "hoax" put on by the Chinese to raise the cost of American products and gain a competitive advantage. Now China is pushing back, saying that climate change is no hoax. In a complete turnaround, China will most likely become the global leader for fighting climate change, dragging along a reluctant U.S.
The New York Times reported last week that oceanfront properties in areas prone to flooding due to climate change are being devalued as liabilities. These once prestigious locations were priced at a premium. Now climate change will devalue a pinnacle of the real estate market, sending shock waves through a volatile industry and ripples across the economic sector.
Trump has vowed to reinstate coal as a domestic energy source, defying coal's dirty emissions and its noncompetitive pricing compared with cheap natural gas. Trump also has vowed to kill Obama's Clean Power Plan that seeks to significantly cut greenhouse emissions in the electric energy field.
Science and nature are the ultimate truth-tellers. The year 2016 is expected to be the hottest on record — ever. Seventeen of the hottest years on record occurred within the 21st century.
Rather than simply roll over and accept these setbacks, each of us has a role to play. Only we can regulate our carbon footprints. In much the same way we cast ballots during elections, our every-consumer choice is a ballot cast either for or against climate change.
We must question the status quo of energy gluttony. We must see that the ever-rising Dow Jones average is not just a windfall for investment profits, but an index of climate change. In today's economy, when the Dow rises, so do carbon emissions.
The Republican-controlled Congress has an agenda against centralized federal authority. Climate change legislation will fall prey to that ideology. By endorsing the same ideology, citizen action on the home front empowers decentralized oversight and freedom of choice.
That collective choice must align to fight climate change. Instead of taking it to the streets, we must first take it to our homes and businesses.
Paul Andersen's column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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