In 2004 North Americans generate the equivalent of 20 tons of CO2 each. Activities such as electricity generation to industrial production, driving to work and powering your refrigerator all contribute to this number. While much of this is an inevitable consequence of modern living, a large portion is avoidable with only minor adjustments to our habits and thus little impact on our everyday lives.Simple changes like replacing incandescent lights bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL) or LEDs not only help the environment, but they can also save you money. The additional effort of separating recycling from trash is an easy, affordable and effective way to impact the rescuing of the environment. While we all often ask "What can I, as only one individual, accomplish? What does my one small act matter?" These questions are answered simply; it is not just the large policies that will save the environment, it is many individuals who together form a whole.
I believe that a significant portion of the change must come from governments, industry and corporate bodies, but the other part of the equation rests in our hands. While our individual actions may seem insignificant when we all take on even a little bit it can add up to make significant, earth-changing impact. "If every American home replaced just one light bulb or fixture with an ENERGY STAR, every year we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes, more than $600 million in energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars!" Many think that an economic recession is the wrong time to start being eco-friendly but it can actually be the best time to start. The ideas suggested above are just the tip of the global warming iceberg -- setting a thermostat a few degrees higher will not only impact the environment but the pocket book as well.
The consequences of not changing are very real. We are running out of oil. Some say we have already reached peak oil while others say it is rapidly approaching. Aside from running out of the life blood that keeps our society moving we face other perhaps more serious problems. The increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is heating our fragile world. An increase of just a few degrees has devastating effects. Our crops are in danger, our coastal cities are in danger and we face greater risk of epidemic. We must address these serious problems; we must make equally serious efforts to change for the better.
This past Thursday I arrived in Jerusalem, Israel to participate in the PresenTense institute as a fellow. This organization aims to solve problems facing both the Jewish and world communities at large. As a fellow, I will be designing a project, Green Me Up, aimed at encouraging individuals, the ones who have the ability to change the state of our environment for our children, to adopt greener practices. While my project will target the New York area at first, it is my hope that it will be successful and branch out to reach all those willing to participate. Through Green Me Up people be rewarded for saving energy. My hope is that by educating and rewarding green practices people will develop greener habits.
I will be blogging about my experiences throughout the summer as I develop my project. I will also use my twitter account, @Jnkeyak, to track my incremental progress.